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A Network Map of the World’s Air Traffic Connections

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A Network Map of the World's Air Traffic Connections

A Network Map of the World’s Air Traffic Connections

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

In 2017, airlines moved over four billion passengers, a number that continues to grow each year.

As more and more people around the world can afford to scratch their travel itch, new connections and airports will be created to meet that demand. Remarkably, the world’s air transport network doubles in size every 15 years, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates that it will do so again by the year 2030.

Today’s data visualization – created by researcher, Martin Grandjean – is a dramatic look at over 3,200 air traffic hubs that connect our world’s population centers. The unique, force-directed layout allows us to see relationships beyond geographical location.

air traffic network map

As the GIF above reveals, Europe remains an important linchpin in international travel, and cities on North America’s West Coast – such as Vancouver and San Francisco – swing in response to Asia’s gravitational pull.

The World’s Most Connected Airports

While all airports are effective at moving passengers from point A to B, particular locations play a crucial role in the global network. To help put this connectivity between airports into perspective, OAG created the Megahubs International Index.

Below are the top 50 internationally connected airports:

RankAirportAirport NameCountryConnectivity Index
1LHRHeathrowUnited Kingdom379
2FRAFrankfurtGermany307
3AMSAmsterdam SchipholNetherlands299
4ORDO'HareUnited States295
5YYZToronto PearsonCanada271
6SINSingapore ChangiSingapore257
7CGKSoekarno–HattaIndonesia256
8ATLHartsfield–JacksonUnited States256
9KULKuala LumpurMalaysia242
10CDGCharles de GaulleFrance242
11LAXLos AngelesUnited States235
12HKGHong KongHong Kong233
13BKKSuvarnabhumiThailand226
14MUCMunichGermany221
15ISTIstanbul AtatürkTurkey219
16MIAMiamiUnited States204
17ICNIncheonSouth Korea196
18JFKJohn F. KennedyUnited States195
19IAHGeorge BushUnited States184
20DXBDubaiUnited Arab Emirates183
21MEXMexico CityMexico176
22EWRNewark LibertyUnited States170
23PVGShanghai PudongChina167
24SYDSydneyAustralia167
25DELIndira GandhiIndia166
26YVRVancouverCanada165
27DFWDallas/Fort WorthUnited States164
28HNDHanedaJapan163
29SFOSan FranciscoUnited States153
30FCORome FiumicinoItaly145
31PEKBeijing CapitalChina142
32CANGuangzhou BaiyunChina141
33BOMChhatrapati ShivajiIndia140
34MADMadrid–BarajasSpain138
35NCENice Côte d'AzurFrance133
36JNBO. R. TamboSouth Africa133
37NRTNaritaJapan132
38MNLNinoy AquinoPhilippines131
39SEASeattle–TacomaUnited States130
40BOSLoganUnited States128
41BOGEl DoradoColombia127
42GRUSão Paulo–GuarulhosBrazil120
43YULMontréal–TrudeauCanada118
44ZRHZurichSwitzerland115
45SVOSheremetyevoRussian Fed.114
46SJULuis Muñoz MarínPuerto Rico114
47PTYTocumenPanama108
48VIEViennaAustria107
49MCOOrlandoUnited States107
50AKLAucklandNew Zealand106

The heavyweight airport leading the world in international connectivity is London Heathrow. This busy air traffic hub recently had a mind-blowing 72,000 possible international connections within a 6-hour window of arriving and departing flights. Heathrow moved over 78 million passengers and 1.70 million metric tonnes of cargo in 2017.

According to OAG, Singapore Changi and El Dorado International Airport in Colombia were the most connected airports in Asia–Pacific and South America, respectively. O. R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg was the sole African airport to crack the top 50.

America’s Most Connected Airports

Below are the top 25 most connected airports in the United States:

RankAirportAirport NameCityConnectivity Index
1ORDO'HareChicago455
2ATLHartsfield–Jackson AtlantaAtlanta390
3CLTCharlotte DouglasCharlotte238
4DFWDallas/Fort WorthDallas207
5DENDenverDenver186
6DTWDetroit Metro. Wayne CountyDetroit139
7MSPMinneapolis–Saint PaulMinneapolis–St. Paul126
8LAXLos AngelesLos Angeles114
9HNLDaniel K. InouyeHonolulu104
10PHXPhoenix Sky HarborPhoenix103
11IAHGeorge BushHouston102
12BOSBoston LoganBoston95
13SEASeattle–TacomaSeattle87
14PHLPhiladelphiaPhiladelphia85
15SFOSan FranciscoSan Francisco84
16SLCSalt Lake CitySalt Lake City79
17MDWChicago MidwayChicago75
18DCARonald Reagan WashingtonWashington65
19IADWashington DullesWashington57
20DALDallas Love FieldDallas56
21EWRNewark LibertyNewark54
22LASMcCarranLas Vegas54
23BWIBaltimore–WashingtonBaltimore53
24LGALaGuardiaNew York51
25STLSt. Louis LambertSt. Louis43

While Atlanta Airport, the second most connected hub, has more scheduled domestic capacity, O’Hare’s scheduling offered more connection possibilities for passengers. Both these powerhouse transport nodes show up very clearly on the network map above.

No Fly Zones

There is a grand total of five countries in the world that have no airport and, interestingly, they’re all in Europe. Vatican City and Monaco are simply too small to accommodate an airport.

The remaining three – Andorra, San Marino, and Liechtenstein – rely on neighboring countries and/or helicopter pads for their air travel needs.

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Misc

A Visual Guide to Human Emotion

For years, humans have attempted to categorize and codify human emotion. Here are those attempts, visualized.

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visual guide to human emotions wheel

A Visual Guide to Human Emotion

Despite vast differences in culture around the world, humanity’s DNA is 99.9% similar.

There are few attributes more central and universal to the human experience than our emotions. Of course, the broad spectrum of emotions we’re capable of experiencing can be difficult to articulate. That’s where this brilliant visualization by the Junto Institute comes in.

This circular visualization is the latest in an ongoing attempt to neatly categorize the full range of emotions in a logical way.

A Taxonomy of Human Emotion

Our understanding has come a long way since William James proposed four basic emotions – fear, grief, love, and rage—though these core emotions still form much of the foundation for current frameworks.

The wheel visualization above identifies six root emotions:

  1. Fear
  2. Anger
  3. Sadness
  4. Surprise
  5. Joy
  6. Love

From these six emotions, more nuanced descriptions emerge, such as jealousy as a subset of anger, and awe-struck as a subset of surprise. In total, there are 102 second- and third-order emotions listed on this emotion wheel.

Reinventing the Feeling Wheel

The concept of mapping the range of human emotions on a wheel picked up traction in the 1980s, and has evolved ever since.

One of these original concepts was developed by American psychologist Robert Plutchik, who mapped eight primary emotions—anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. These “high survival value” emotions were believed to be the most useful in keeping our ancient ancestors alive.

plutchik emotion wheel

Another seminal graphic concept was developed by author Dr. Gloria Willcox. This version of the emotions wheel has spawned dozens of similar designs, as people continue to try to improve on the concept.

willcox feelings wheel

Further Exploration

The more we research human emotion, the more nuanced our understanding becomes in terms of how we react to the world around us.

Researchers at UC Berkeley used 2,185 short video clips to elicit emotions from study participants. Study participants rated the videos using 27 dimensions of self-reported emotional experience, and the results were mapped in an incredible interactive visualization. It is interesting to note that some video clips garnered a wide array of responses, while other clips elicit a near unanimous emotional response.

Here are some example videos and the distribution of responses:

reported emotional reaction to video clips

The data visualization clusters these types of videos together, giving us a unique perspective on how people respond to certain types of stimuli.

Much like emotion itself, our desire to understand and classify the world around us is powerful and uniquely human.

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Markets

Mapping the World’s Key Maritime Choke Points

Ocean shipping is the primary mode of international trade. This map identifies maritime choke points that pose a risk to this complex logistic network.

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maritime choke points

Mapping the World’s Key Maritime Choke Points

Maritime transport is an essential part of international trade—approximately 80% of global merchandise is shipped via sea.

Because of its importance, commercial shipping relies on strategic trade routes to move goods efficiently. These waterways are used by thousands of vessels a year—but it’s not always smooth sailing. In fact, there are certain points along these routes that pose a risk to the whole system.

Here’s a look at the world’s most vulnerable maritime bottlenecks—also known as choke points—as identified by GIS.

What’s a Choke Point?

Choke points are strategic, narrow passages that connect two larger areas to one another. When it comes to maritime trade, these are typically straits or canals that see high volumes of traffic because of their optimal location.

Despite their convenience, these vital points pose several risks:

  • Structural risks: As demonstrated in the recent Suez Canal blockage, ships can crash along the shore of a canal if the passage is too narrow, causing traffic jams that can last for days.
  • Geopolitical risks: Because of their high traffic, choke points are particularly vulnerable to blockades or deliberate disruptions during times of political unrest.

The type and degree of risk varies, depending on location. Here’s a look at some of the biggest threats, at eight of the world’s major choke points.

maritime choke point risks

Because of their high risk, alternatives for some of these key routes have been proposed in the past—for instance, in 2013 Nicaraguan Congress approved a $40 billion dollar project proposal to build a canal that was meant to rival the Panama Canal.

As of today, it has yet to materialize.

A Closer Look: Key Maritime Choke Points

Despite their vulnerabilities, these choke points remain critical waterways that facilitate international trade. Below, we dive into a few of the key areas to provide some context on just how important they are to global trade.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a lock-type canal that provides a shortcut for ships traveling between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Ships sailing between the east and west coasts of the U.S. save over 8,000 nautical miles by using the canal—which roughly shortens their trip by 21 days.

In 2019, 252 million long tons of goods were transported through the Panama Canal, which generated over $2.6 billion in tolls.

The Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an Egyptian waterway that connects Europe to Asia. Without this route, ships would need to sail around Africa, which would add approximately seven days to their trips. In 2019, nearly 19,000 vessels, and 1 billion tons of cargo, traveled through the Suez Canal.

In an effort to mitigate risk, the Egyptian government embarked on a major expansion project for the canal back in 2015. But, given the recent blockage caused by a Taiwanese container ship, it’s clear that the waterway is still vulnerable to obstruction.

The Strait of Malacca

At its smallest point, the Strait of Malacca is approximately 1.5 nautical miles, making it one of the world’s narrowest choke points. Despite its size, it’s one of Asia’s most critical waterways, since it provides a critical connection between China, India, and Southeast Asia. This choke point creates a risky situation for the 130,000 or so ships that visit the Port of Singapore each year.

The area is also known to have problems with piracy—in 2019, there were 30 piracy incidents, according to private information group ReCAAP ISC.

The Strait of Hormuz

Controlled by Iran, the Strait of Hormuz links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, ultimately draining into the Arabian Sea. It’s a primary vein for the world’s oil supply, transporting approximately 21 million barrels per day.

Historically, it’s also been a site of regional conflict. For instance, tankers and commercial ships were attacked in that area during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is another primary waterway for the world’s oil and natural gas. Nestled between Africa and the Middle East, the critical route connects the Mediterranean Sea (via the Suez Canal) to the Indian Ocean.

Like the Strait of Malacca, it’s well known as a high-risk area for pirate attacks. In May 2020, a UK chemical tanker was attacked off the coast of Yemen–the ninth pirate attack in the area that year.

Due to the strategic nature of the region, there is a strong military presence in nearby Djibouti, including China’s first ever foreign military base.

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