Intercontinental flight departures reachable within 5 hours, 2012


Observations for policy

Regions and cities in Europe are increasingly integrated in the global economy. Flows of people, inter alia via intercontinental flights, are cause and effect of this globalisation. Some cities in Europe function as gateways for intercontinental flights.

In a globalised world, gateways are important focal points of social and economic development and receive considerable policy attention. However not only the presence of an international airport is relevant for cities and regions to be globally competitive, also the connections to these gateways are of relevance. Good connections to Europe’s main gateways of flows of goods and people can also enhance the global competitiveness of regions without international airport.

Policy context

Globalisation encourages connectivity between people. A set of territorial assets such as linkages, urban advantages, attractive environments and processes of territorial cooperation and governance have become vital economic resources for regions. The Territorial Agenda 2020 includes the priority of ensuring global competitiveness of the regions based on strong local economies. By ensuring close linkages to global gateways regions can enhance their global competitiveness, the number of intercontinental flight connections is an indicator to measure this.

Adequate infrastructure is important for the development of gateways. This entails not only the number of global flight destinations, but also their connections to other cities and regions in Europe, by road rail and air; i.e. maintaining good connections with the main gateway’s hinterlands. European Common Transport Policy connects main global gateways, including main international airports, to the rest of Europe. This policy aims at a core European network connecting 94 main ports to rail and road links, 38 key airports with rail connections, 15.000 km of railway lines upgraded to high speed and 35 cross-border projects aimed at reducing the most important transport bottlenecks, as stated in the sixth Cohesion Report.

Map interpretation

The map illustrates global travel connections by the number of intercontinental destinations for which flight departures are reachable within five hours travel time. The map shows clear regional differences in terms of reachable global connections by air. Regions in the core of Europe, the UK, Benelux, Germany, France and Northern Italy are among the best-connected regions. However, the highest numbers of reachable intercontinental flight destinations are in South West Europe, in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon. These cities serve many intercontinental destinations themselves and have good connections to other European airports with intercontinental destinations.

Regions in the most Northern, Southern and Eastern parts of Europe have lower global connectivity. It often takes more than five hours for persons living in these areas to reach an airport with intercontinental destinations. Although capital cities like Athens, Sofia, Bucharest or Stockholm serve as important national gateways, their global connection in terms of intercontinental flight destinations served is relatively low.

Concepts and methods

Global travel connectivity is illustrated in the map by the number of intercontinental destinations for which flight departures are reachable within five hours travel time. If an airport with global flight connections is reachable from a region within the given timeframe the intercontinental destinations served from the airport are added to the regional global connectivity value. The travel time depends on the shortest route by intermodal trip chain of road and air. Double counting of destinations for one region is excluded.