Structure, resilience and evolution of the European Air Route Network from 2015 to 2018

Esteve, Pau; Ramasco, Jose J.; Zanin, Massimiliano
IEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering 10 (4), 2045-2058 (2023)

In spite of the dynamic nature of air transport, air route networks, i.e. the backbone used to organise aircraft flows, are expected to be mostly static, with small changes occasionally being introduced to improve the efficiency and resilience of the system. By leveraging a large data set of European flights comprising years 2015 to 2018, we analyse its structure and evolution from the perspective of complex networks, with the aim of firstly describing it, and secondly to confirm its static nature. Results depict a highly dynamic system, with major topological changes happening at the end of 2017. Peripheral links are usually more vulnerable, due to the lack of effective reroutings, as well as central regions; additionally, the overall resilience of the network is almost constant throughout time, in spite of an increase in traffic. We further test several hypotheses regarding the design considerations driving such evolution. Beyond specific operational insights, these results highlight the importance of taking into account the evolution of this network in the study of traffic flows.

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