Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox
Chapter 14: Airports: From Flying Fields to Twenty-first Century Aerocities
Lucy C.S. Budd INTRODUCTION I started my travels – where else? – in the airport (Pico Iyer, 2000, p. 41) Since the dawn of commercial aviation at the beginning of the twentieth century, airports have played a crucial role in the development and maintenance of a new world order. At their most basic level, airports exist to facilitate international flow and mobility and are routinely classified and judged according to the number of direct flights they host and the volume of passengers, cargo and aircraft they process. Each nation has (with the exception of Andorra, San Marino, Vatican City, Monaco and Liechtenstein, the only countries in the world without an airport) developed a national airport system appropriate to its transportation needs and this has resulted in a global airport system of great complexity. There are currently around 49,000 active airports in the world, ranging in size from tiny airfields that serve some of the remotest regions on earth to mega aerotropoli that handle tens of millions of passengers every year. Yet, irrespective of their particular geographic characteristics, airports have become a common feature of our industrialized landscape and have left indelible imprints on our language, culture and environment. As the transition points between earth and sky, airports enable people, goods and information to travel around the world. They have brought nations closer together in time and space and have enabled business and personal relationships to be routinely conducted at a distance. They have inspired novelists, artists, architects, politicians, musicians, philosophers, and...
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