01 April 2007

The global air transport network

Having read Mark Buchanan's book "Nexus - Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks", I found the academic paper The worldwide air transportation network: Anomalous centrality, community structure, and cities' global roles by R. GuimerĂ , S. Mossa, A. Turtschi & L. A. N. Amaral, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 to be interesting. This research used data from OAG - 500,000 flights between 27,000 pairs of cities scheduled during the first week of November 2000. A non-technical description of the results is also available together with a couple of ranked lists of all the cities in the database.

Note, in particular, the significance - "centrality" - of airports in Anchorage in Alaska and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Both areas of the world are very much dependent on air transport.

For someone who often takes journeys that involve flying four sectors (the research shows that a traveller can get from any city to any other with an average of 4.4 sectors) it was fascinating to read of the most disconnected places in the world - Mount Pleasant (MPN) in the Falkland Islands and Wasu (WSU) in Papua New Guinea - flying between them required a 15-sector journey!

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