Exploring the structure of the U.S. intercity passenger air transportation network: a weighted complex network approach
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The U.S. airline network is one of the most advanced transportation infrastructures in the world. It is a complex geospatial structure that sustains a variety of dynamics including commercial, public, and military operations and services. We study the U.S. domestic intercity passenger air transportation network using a weighted complex network methodology, in which vertices represent cities and edges represent intercity airline connections weighted by average daily passenger traffic, non-stop distance, and average one-way fares. We find that U.S. intercity passenger air transportation network is a small-world network accompanied by dissortative mixing patterns and rich-club phenomenon, implying that large degree cities (or hub cities) tend to form high traffic volume interconnections among each other and large degree cities tend to link to a large number of small degree cities. The interhub air connections tend to form interconnected triplets with high traffic volumes, long non-stop distances, and low average one-way fares. The structure of the U.S. airline network reflects the dynamic integration of pre-existing urban and national transportation infrastructure with the competitive business strategies of commercial airlines. In this paper we apply an emerging methodology to representing, analyzing, and modeling the complex interactions associated with the physical and human elements of the important U.S. national air transport and services infrastructure.
KeywordsNetwork analysis Air transportation network Complex network Rich-club phenomenon Dissortative mixing
Support by the president fund in Houston Advanced Research Center for this project is gratefully acknowledged. We would like to thank anonymous reviewers who have provided valuable comments that substantially improved our arguments. We are fully responsible for any remaining errors.
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