Measuring Beijing's international air connectivity and suggestions for improvement post COVID-19

Linfeng Zhang, Meng Hou, Yichen Liu, Kun Wang, Hangjun Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This study empirically measures Beijing's international air connectivity through descriptive statistics and various connectivity indexes. In particular, we comprehensively benchmark Beijing's international air connectivity with other major international exchange centers and gateway airports around the world. It is found that, although Beijing has direct flights to a comparable number of foreign destinations, the city still significantly lags behind other major counterparts in international air connectivity. This is due to Beijing's inferior connection quality in terms of flight frequency, number of seats, flying distance, and its poor international transfer capability. Moreover, a gravity-type model is applied to investigate the determinants of Beijing's route-level direct flight traffic. An index of potential market size is calculated for a sample including candidate overseas airports without direct flights with Beijing. It is found that Beijing has already opened direct flights to most of the candidate airports that have high market potentials. The air transport market potentials to major B&R (Belt-and-Road) cities are very low. However, given China's growing trade and economic ties with the B&R countries, Beijing could consider more favorable policies in support of direct flight operations to B&R countries. It is more important for Beijing to upgrade air connectivity quality by liberalizing restrictions on flight frequency and airfare. The newly opened Beijing Daxing Airport adds valuable capacity for Beijing to better explore international connectivity. Although COVID-19 pandemic forces Beijing to shut down international flight operations until now, the city needs to formulate clearer long-term strategies to improve international its air connectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-143
Number of pages12
JournalTransport Policy
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Beijing
  • COVID-19
  • Direct flight traffic
  • Gravity model
  • International air connectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation


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