Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mapimation Update

Modern travel, especially air transportation connects today’s world—air travel connects people and goods with any corner of the world within 24 hours or less. Yet the globe’s 15 largest airlines only represent seven countries. Though less realized, air travel holds similar status today to marine travel a century ago. Until recently, the measure of a nation’s power could be gauged by the size and power of its navy. Today, air dominance holds a similar status. A century ago, wars were won by ships, worlds were connected by ships and all goods crossing oceans were freighted on ships. Today, air superiority wins wars, one can fly to any corner of the world within 24 hours, and 36% of the value of all goods traded around the are world flown to their locations (pretty good considering that this 36% of value constitutes only 5 percent of volume, all other goods are moved via ship, truck, train or other mode of transportation). Air domination today is equivalent to naval domination centuries ago.

Of the 15 airlines mapped, seven countries are represented and coincidentally these countries have recently been some of the largest players in world affairs. Upon research of further statistics one finds that two major demographic factors become very telling of which countries retain air dominance. All of the dominant countries have populations over 40 million (except Australia) and a GNP per capita income in excess of the equivalent of 26,000 USD. There are many countries with higher populations for instance China and India, however, the per capita income in these countries is significantly lower than in the countries of air superiority. Other companies such as Luxemburg or Norway, have among the highest per capita incomes but their populations are to small to support a major air transportation industry.

Some exceptions to occur, Australia for instance has a relatively small population and yet Qantas Air slides in as the worlds 13th largest airline according to passengers per year. Canada also seems as if it could qualifiy to have an airline in the top 15 yet Air Canada is barely excluded in the top 15 and comes in at position 19. However, neither of these exceptions or any others are far out of the theory that there is a strong correlation between a country’s population+per captia GNP versus that country’s air superiority.

My map intends to explore the spheres of influence of the major airlines and the countries they represent and it goes further attempting to predict future dominant powers as represented by air superiority. Based on the growth of airlines and the rate of change in population/per capita GNP the map predicts which airlines will rise next to bring their countries to the economic forefront of the globe. The best prospect, no surprise, seems to be China. Already having the largest population, the Republic of China’s GNP per capita is increasing at an incredible 9.90%. Other good possibilities lie in Taiwan, Russia India and Iran, all of which have significant populations, sufficient resources, and above average economic growth.

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