TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (2): 196-205.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003112

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Spatial Structure and Evolution of the Three State-owned Airlines’ Networks in China

Du Delin1,2, Mo Huihui3 and Wang Jiao’e1,2   

  1. (1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China; 2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; 3. China Academy of Civil Aviation Science and Technology, Beijing 100028, China)
  • Online:2019-03-05 Published:2019-03-05

Abstract: With the deregulation of civil aviation, airlines are becoming more important in the air transportation market and have gradually become an important research object in the aeronautical transportation geography. In China, all state-owned airlines were regrouped into three major airline groups: China National Aviation Holding Company (whose core business is Air China), China Eastern Air Holding Company (whose core business is China Eastern Airlines), and China Southern Air Holding Group (whose core business is China Southern Airlines) by 2002. Over more than 10 years, the three major airlines have developed rapidly and the market has expanded. At present, the three airlines have basically dominated the domestic air transport market, and their network structures have very important effects. The network organization and hub selection of the three airlines is not only a research topic of economics and management but is also worth studying from the perspective of geography. Taking the three airlines as examples, this paper analyzes and compares their network structure and characteristics over the last decade using the methods of graph and complex network theories. The results are as follows: 1) the networks of the three airlines are still in the development stage and show the characteristics of “small world” and “scale-free.” The structure of their networks was optimized from 2005 to 2015. Of the three airlines, Air China has the smallest scale and cohesion, China Southern Airlines has the largest segment and the greatest cohesion, and China Eastern Airlines has the fastest expansion of the network scale. 2) The three airlines were significantly correlated with each other in their degree centrality, but the correlations among their betweenness centrality were weak. This means that the same airport may have similar, direct connectivity in different networks, but the transfer capacity is different. 3) The hierarchies of the three airlines are basically formed. The hubs of their global network are obviously different, but the construction of their regional hubs is similar. Beijing-Capital International Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport are the hubs of the air network of Air China. Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Kunming Changshui International Airport, and Xi’an Xianyang International Airport are the hubs of the air network of China Eastern Airlines. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, and Urumchi Diwopu International Airport are the hubs of the air network of China Southern Airlines. The regional hubs of the three airlines are still changing, but they have a certain similarity with each other.

Key words: state-owned airlines, spatial structure, network analysis, centrality