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Islands of (Dis)connectivity: Using Gravity Models to Measure Caribbean Passenger Air Networks

Authors: William Canup*, University of North Carolina - Greensboro
Topics: Middle America, Transportation Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: connectivity, transportation geography, gravity models, Caribbean, West Indies, island studies
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This research assesses passenger air traffic in the Caribbean and the use of spatial interaction models to predict connectivity. A variety of peculiarities and constraints affect connectivity in the Caribbean - the goal is to distinguish these anticipated differences between basic spatial interaction models and other measures of connectivity. First, a basic total flow constrained gravity model (TFCGM), featuring only the variables of population and distance, is calculated between Caribbean airports and their non-stop destinations. This serves as an estimated or predicted measure of connectivity. Actual connectivity is measured by International Air Transport Association (IATA) Global and Regional Connectivity Indices. Linear regression is then performed, using the TFCGM as the dependent variable and IATA Global and Regional Connectivity Indices as independent variables. The residuals from these values are interpreted as variables that are present in the IATA indices (actual connectivity) but not the TFCGM (estimated connectivity). This research found that the total flow constrained gravity model, featuring only population and distance as variables, is not well-predicted by the IATA Global and Regional connectivity indices. Models featuring only population and distance generally underestimate Caribbean passenger air connectivity. The reasons for this are many, but include: the popularity of Caribbean islands as tourist destinations, political relationships between Caribbean islands and their former colonial powers, and political relationships between Caribbean islands and countries with which they remain overseas territories.

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