Chapter 4: Aviation and telecommunications networks
In 2011, air cargo accounted for an estimated 40 per cent of international trade by value, despite carrying only 2 per cent of the total goods by mass (ICAO, 2013). Air cargo has not only outpaced the worldwide growth rate of air passengers and gross domestic product (GDP), but has also expanded at an even greater rate in lesser-developed countries, where road conditions are poor and cargo security is lax. This rapid growth stems from a reduction in the cost of transporting cargo by air from using the belly capacity of wide-bodied passenger aircraft; growth in knowledge-intensive goods such as computers and electronic goods, with higher value to weight ratios, comprising a greater share of international trade; and the adoption of agile supply chain management practices that use the aircraft as a ‘virtual warehouse’ to meet the premium on speed, flexibility and freight security. The overriding issue in discussing air cargo, air passenger and telecommunications in this chapter is the degree to which the global huband-spoke system, evident in container shipping, has permeated their respective operations. Is there a ‘Main Street’ in air cargo, air passenger and telecommunications? Are there ‘cul-de-sacs’ in these different modes? And to what extent are these patterns reflected in the operations of major players?
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