Felix Guntermann / Addis Ababa Airport between Globalization and Fragmentation – A Hub in Space and Time

Name: Felix Guntermann
Organization: University of Bonn, Department of Geography
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sabine Troeger
Email address: felix.guntermann(at)geographie.uni-bonn.de
Expected date of completion: April 2018

Abstract of thesis:

Addis Ababa Airport is currently facing rapid growth and expansion, an extraordinary development compared to other African airports. The national home carrier is playing a substantial role in boosting economy and promoting tourism. The network of served destinations is one of the biggest within Africa. Within these parameters Ethiopia’s level of interconnectivity and acceleration is on the rise. Besides the national actors, additional stakeholders – mainly from China – are becoming more and more important due to foreign direct investments. In enhancing their economic activities new trade routes have been established that open up opportunities for the country and the African continent. However, closer ties between Ethiopia and its Asian partners create new challenges with ambivalent impacts – not only in economical but also in political, social and cultural fields.

Bole Airport is seen as a central node channeling lines of movements, practices and subjects. This ‘hub’ permanently translates them into recent processes of development on multiple spatial and temporal scales. Against the background of globalization and fragmentation, the research aims to analyze the function of Addis Ababa Airport in contributing to the development of the Ethiopian nation in global terms, in the African context, and from a local perspective. Based on empirical research it discusses the development processes not only from growth-oriented perspectives, but also in a more transformative approach focusing on inequalities, inclusive/exclusive impacts and changing power structures.

Elien Van De Vijver / Exploring the mutual relationship between air passenger transport and economic development. A quantitative study at various spatial scales

Name: Elien Van De Vijver
Organization: Ghent University, Belgium
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ben Derudder and Prof. Dr. Frank Witlox
Doctoral Committee: Prof. Em. dr. Georges Allaert, dr. Guillaume Burghouwt, Prof. dr. Ben Derudder, Prof. dr. Frédéric Dobruszkes, Prof. dr. Kevin O’Connor, dr. Veronique Van Acker, Prof. dr. Veerle Van Eetvelde, Prof. dr. Frank Witlox
Email address: elienvdvijver(at)gmail.com
Date of completion: December 4, 2014

Abstract of thesis: The overall aim of this research is to contribute to ongoing research on the reciprocal and complex relationships between air passenger transport and economic development. Its goal is to contribute to a more profound understanding of these links at both the aggregate and the regional level. Four general research objectives have been put forward. These objectives are to (i) discern some of the determinants of, and their respective importance for, air passenger transport, (ii) study in what ways and to what extent air passenger transport influences economic development, (iii) reveal some of the signs of causality between economic development and air passenger transport, and (iv) determine some of the intervening factors in this relationship. These objectives are translated into a series of specific research questions that are answered throughout the dissertation, using different combinations of methodology, geographical scale and scope. A crucial quantitative method used in the thesis is heterogeneous Granger causality analysis, which enables us to not only investigate the association or link between economic development and air passenger transport, but to include an element of causation in the research in order to deepen our understanding of the relationship.

Some of the main results of the thesis confirm the strong link between the income level of a country and its ability to generate air passenger travel. However, this ability is also influenced by (i) the extent of air transport liberalization, which has a positive effect on the demand for air passenger travel, and (ii) rising fuel prices, which restrain the demand. These two factors are very important in stimulating –or impeding- further air transport growth: it is not certain that rising incomes will guarantee continued air passenger growth if the pace of air transport liberalization slows down or if fuel prices keep rising. Viewed from the opposite angle, we investigate how air passenger transport also has an influence on the development of regions or countries. We find that regions that have more and better connections are generally marked by a presence of more knowledge-intensive services, which are characterized by the importance of transmission of information and knowledge. This interrelation is however geographically specific in that it often depends on national and regional particulars.

By using heterogeneous Granger causality analysis, we were able to investigate the causal relationship between air passenger transport and economic development simultaneously. Our method revealed that air transport is an enabling factor for economic development, but not a sufficient condition. In the same way, regions with higher economic development do not always lead to generating higher passenger numbers. Multiple intervening factors are important in the relationship, among which air transport liberalization, fuel prices and the specific level of economic development are the most important. Hence, we conclude that air passenger transport should be viewed as an INUS-condition, an ‘insufficient but non-redundant part of an unnecessary but sufficient’ condition, for economic development. This is crucial, because a large part of the literature consider a stronger causal link from air transport to economic development than vice versa, which may create the impression that this relationship is straightforward.


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