Traffic&Transportation Journal
Sign In / Sign Up


Air Passenger Transport and Regional Development: Cause and Effect in Europe
Elien Van de Vijver, Ben Derudder, Frank Witlox
Keywords:economic development, air passenger transport, European regional development, Granger causality,


This article scrutinizes the mutual and complex causal relationship between air passenger transport and regional development in the European NUTS2-regions with heterogeneous Granger causality analysis between 2002 and 2011. Employment is used as a relatively robust and measurable indicator of a region’s development and employment in the services sector and in the manufacturing sector is treated separately to discern basic sectoral variances. The proposed methodology allows investigating (i) if air transport in the European regions causally influences employment, (ii) if employment also leads to higher transport levels, and (iii) regional variations in this causal relationship. The results show that both directions of causality occur among the European urban regions, albeit very geographically fragmented. This indicates that air passenger transport is a necessary part of, but not sufficient condition for generating regional development. The more abundant relationships for employment in the services sector confirm the sensitivity of the services industry to air passenger transport.


Brueckner J. Air traffic and urban economic development. Urban Studies. 2003;40(8):1455-1469.

Button K, Lall S. The economics of being an airport hub city. Research in Transportation Economics. 1999;5:75-105.

Button K, Lall S, Stough R, Trice M. High-technology employment and hub airports. Journal of Air Transport Management. 1999;5(1):53-59.

Debbage K, Delk D. The geography of air passenger volume and local employment patterns by U.S. metropolitan core area: 1973–1996. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2001;7:159-167.

Irwin MD, Kasarda JD. Air passenger linkages and employment growth in U.S. metropolitan areas. American Sociological Review. 1991;56(4):524-537.

Ivy RL, Fik TJ, Malecki EJ. Changes in air service connectivity and employment. Environment and Planning A. 1995;27:165-179.

Dobruszkes F, Lennert M, Van Hamme G. An analysis of the determinants of air traffic volume for European metropolitan areas. Journal of Transport Geography. 2011;19(4):755-762.

Mukkala K, Tervo H. Regional airports and regional growth in Europe: which way does the causality run? Environment and Planning A. 2013;45:1508-1520.

[9] Percoco M. Airport activity and local development: Evidence from Italy. Urban Studies. 2010;47(11):2427-2443.

Liu Z, Debbage K, Blackburn B. Locational determinants of major US air passenger markets by metropolitan area. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2006;12:331-341.

Zuidberg J, Veldhuis J. The role of regional airports in a future transportation system. (Research report 2012-05, Commissioned by Assembly of European Regions (AER)) Amsterdam: SEO Economic Research; 2012. Available from:

European Commission. Air transport. What do we want to achieve? Brussels: European Commission; 2014. Available from:

Dobruszkes F. An analysis of European low-cost airlines and their networks. Journal of Transport Geography. 2006;14:249-264.

ELFAA. Liberalisation of European air transport: The benefits of low fares airlines to consumers, airports, regions and the environment. Brussels: European Low Fares Airline Association; 2004. Available from:

Scharpenseel MF. Consequences of EU airline deregulation in the context of the global aviation market. Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business. 2001;22:91-95.

Bowen J. The economic geography of air yransportation: Space, time, and the freedom of the sky. London: Routledge; 2010.

Pavlin S, Dimnik I, Starcevic M. Influence of low-cost carriers on airport infrastructure development. Promet - Traffic & Transportation. 2007;19(1):49-54.

Donzelli M. The effect of low-cost air transportation on the local economy: Evidence from Southern Italy. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2010;16(3):121-126.

Cooper A, Smith P. The economic catalytic effects of air transport in Europe. Final report EEC/SEE/2005/004. Brussel: Eurocontrol; 2005. Available from: eec/report2005/025_Economic_Catalytic_Effects_of_Air_Transport_Europe%20.pdf

Olipra L. The impact of low-cost carriers on tourism development in less famous destinations. Conference proceedings CITTASLOW: il valore della lentezza per il turismo del future; 2012 June 13-14; Perugia/Orvieto, Italy. Available from:

ACI, Airports Council International Europe and York Aviation. The social and economic impacts of airports in Europe. Brussels: ACI and York Aviation; 2004. Available from:

Hakfoort J, Poot T, Rietveld P. The regional economic impact of an airport: The case of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Regional Studies. 2001;35(7):595-604.

Heuer K, Klophaus R. Regionalökonomische Bedeutung und Perspektiven des Flughafens Frankfurt-Hahn. Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn GmbH; 2007. Available from:

Abraham T, Heising P, Aring J, Klophaus R. Regionalökonomische Auswirkungen: Ausbau Flughafen Lübeck-

Regionalökonomische Studie. Im Auftrag der Flughafen Lübeck GmbH. Unterlage B-4. Bonn; 2007. Available from:

Perovic J. The economic benefits of aviation and performance in the travel & tourism competitiveness index. In: Blanke J, Chiesa T, editors. The travel & tourism competitiveness report. Reducing barriers to economic growth and job creation. Genève: World Economic Forum, 2013, p. 57-61. Available from:


Van De Vijver E, Derudder B, Witlox F. Exploring causality in trade and air passenger travel relationships: the case of Asia-Pacific, 1980-2010. Journal of Transport Geography. 2014a;34:142-150.

Tranos E. The causal effect of the Internet infrastructure on the economic development of the European city-regions. Spatial Economic Analysis. 2012;7(3):319-337.

Button K, Taylor S. International air transportation and economic development. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2000;6(4):209-222.

Button K, Yuan J. Airfreight transport and economic development: An examination of causality. Urban Studies. 2013;50(2):329-340.

Burmeister A, Colletis-Wahl K. Proximity in production networks: The circulatory dimension. European Urban and Regional Studies. 1997;4:231-241.

Vickerman RW, Spiekermann K, Wegener M. Accessibility and regional development in Europe. Regional Studies. 1999;33:1-15.

Zak D, Getzner M. Economic effects of airports in Central Europe: A critical review of empirical studies and their methodological assumptions. Advances in Economics and Business. 2014;2(2):100-111.

Goetz AR. Air passenger transportation and growth in the U.S. urban system, 1950–1987. Growth and Change. 1992;23:218-242.

Debbage K. Air transportation and urban-economic restructuring: Competitive advantage in the US Carolinas. Journal of Air Transport Management. 1999;5:211-221.

Alkaabi K, Debbage K. Air passenger demand and skilled labor markets by US metropolitan area. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2007;13(3):121-130.

Button K, Taylor S. International air transportation and economic development. Journal of air transport management. 2000;6(4):209-222.

Green RK. Airports and economic development. Real Estate Economics. 2007;35(1):91-112.

Blonigen BA and Cristea AD. Air transport and urban growth: Evidence from a quasi-natural policy experiment (Working paper). University of Oregon and NBER; 2012. Available from:

Neal Z. Creative employment and jet set cities: disentangling causal effects. Urban Studies. 2012;49:2693-2709.

Bel G, Fageda X. Getting there fast: globalization, intercontinental flights and location of headquarters. Journal

of Economic Geography. 2008;8:471-495.

Denstadli JM. The impact of videoconferences on business travel: the Norwegian experience. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2004;10(6):371-376.

Faulconbridge JR, Beaverstock J, Derudder B, Witlox F. Corporate ecologies of business travel in professional service firms: Working towards a research agenda. European Urban and Regional Studies. 2009;16:295-308.

Van De Vijver E, Derudder B, Bassens D, Witlox F. Filling some black holes: Modeling the connection between urbanization, infrastructure, and global service intensity. The Professional Geographer. 2014b;66(1):82-91.

Derudder B, Witlox, F. The impact of progressive liberalization on the spatiality of airline networks: a measurement

framework based on the assessment of hierarchical differentiation. Journal of Transport Geography. 2009;17(4):276-284.

Graham B. Liberalization, regional economic development and the geography of demand for air transport in the European Union. Journal of Transport Geography. 1998;6(2):87-104.

Dubois A, Gloersen E, Lätheenmäki-Smith K, et al. Regional disparities and cohesion: What strategies for the future? Report to the Directorate General Internal Policies of the Union of the European Parliament. IP/B/REGI/IC/2006_201 14/05/2007. Brussels: European Parliament; 2007. Available from: http://

Spiekermann K, Wegener M. Accessibility and spatial development in Europe. Scienze Regionali. 2006;5(2):15-46.

European Commission. Regions in the European Union, Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics, NUTS 2010/EU-27 (Eurostat Methodologies and working papers). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities; 2011. Available from:

Lieshout R. Measuring the size of an airport’s catchment area. Journal of Transport Geography. 2012;25:27-34.

Maertens S. Estimating the market power of airports in their catchment areas – a Europe-wide approach. Journal of Transport Geography. 2012;22:10-18.

Sellner R, Nagl P. Air accessibility and growth – The economic effects of a capacity expansion at Vienna International Airport. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2010;16(6):325-329.

Thelle M, Pedersen T and Harhoff F. Airport competition in Europe. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Economics; 2012. Available from:

European Commission. NACE Rev. 2 – Statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community

(Eurostat Methodologies and working papers). Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities; 2008. Available from:

Hurlin C and Venet B. Granger causality tests in panel data models with fixed coefficients (Working paper Eurisco 2001-09). Paris: University of Paris Dauphine; 2001. Available from:

Lütkepohl H, Krätzig M. Applied time series econometrics.

Cambridge: University Press; 2004.

Hood MV III, Kidd Q, Morris IL. Two sides of the same coin? Employing Granger causality tests in a time series cross-section framework. Political Analysis. 2008;16:324-344.

Nijkamp P. Improving urban environmental quality: Socio-economic possibilities and limits. In: Pernia EM, editor. Urban poverty in Asia: A survey of critical issues. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 241-285.

Eurostat. Statistics explained: Manufacturing statistics - NACE Rev. 2. Luxembourg: European Commission, Eurostat; 2013. Available from:

Rey B, Myro R, Galera A. Effect of low-cost airlines on tourism in Spain. A dynamic panel data model. Journal of Air Transport Management. 2011;17(3):163-167.

Dobruszkes F. The geography of European low-cost airline networks: a contemporary analysis. Journal of Transport Geography. 2013;28:75-88.

Jones Lang Lasalle Hotels. Low cost carriers and their impact on European tourism; 2006. Available from:

Airline Network News and Analysis (ANNA). Ryanair launches 20 new routes, mostly to Eastern Europe; 2012. Available from:

Allroggen F, Malina R. Do the regional growth effects of air transport differ among airports? Journal of Air Transport Management. 2014;37:1-4.

Tranos E, Reggiani A, Nijkamp P. The accessibility of cities in the digital economy. Cities. 2013;30:59-67.

Copyright (c) 2023 Elien Van de Vijver, Ben Derudder, Frank Witlox

Published by
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences
Online ISSN
Print ISSN
SCImago Journal & Country Rank
Publons logo
© Traffic&Transportation Journal