A NETWORK THEORETIC INVESTIGATION INTO THE TOPOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF U.S. AIRLINE ROUTE NETWORK GROWTH
Hicks, Kenneth A.
Isenhour, Michelle L.
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Commercial airline networks are complex, dynamic systems that have become critical components of infrastructure, and understanding the nature and evolution of these networks is necessary in order to maximize their benefits. In this thesis we model the U.S. domestic air transportation system as a temporal multilayer directed network and investigate the route network structure of different U.S. airlines. We apply a network theoretic framework to the evolution of these airlines, represented as layers of the network. We identify the topological properties of these layers as airports are added to and dropped from the airline route networks during years of growth. From this framework, we develop a model based upon centralities for identifying airports that make good candidates for addition to or removal from an airline network, and assess how our model aligns with historical decisions made by the airlines. We find the model to be more successful in identifying airports (1) for removal from, rather than in addition to, a layer, and (2) for addition by low-cost carriers rather than full-service carriers.
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