An analysis of the Chinese scheduled freighter network during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic

Article


Deng, Yu, Zhang, Yahua and Wang, Kun. 2022. "An analysis of the Chinese scheduled freighter network during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic." Journal of Transport Geography. 99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2022.103298
Article Title

An analysis of the Chinese scheduled freighter network during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic

ERA Journal ID19644
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsDeng, Yu, Zhang, Yahua and Wang, Kun
Journal TitleJournal of Transport Geography
Journal Citation99
Article Number103298
Number of Pages12
Year2022
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN0966-6923
1873-1236
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2022.103298
Web Address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966692322000217
Abstract

COVID-19 caused the vast majority of passenger flights to be grounded, but the crisis raised the importance of the network of dedicated cargo flights and, therefore, interest in its development. This paper aims to evaluate the Chinese scheduled freighter network (CSFN) via its topological properties and to explore its changes following the COVID-19 pandemic. Using spatial analysis with the complex network theory (CNT), the paper found that the CSFN displays small-world and scale-free network properties, similar to that of air passenger network. Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Nanjing are the dominant national hubs in the CSFN because they host the headquarters of many e-commerce giant enterprises and have relatively underutilized airport capacities. The CSFN has improved since the COVID-19 pandemic, with increased network average degree, clustering coefficient, and closeness, and reduced average path. These improvements were mainly driven by major hub cities whose centralities had been strengthened with more route connections. Since China's air passenger traffic had quickly restored in the second half of 2020, we argue that the changes in the CSFN during COVID-19 were unlikely to be a result of the substitution effect between freighter and passenger aircraft. It was more likely a result of the higher air cargo demand during the pandemic and airlines' realisation of the importance of freighter operations in China.

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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Business
University of International Business and Economics, China
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