The chart above shows the number of airports that have at least 15,000 annual passengers in each EU and US state. The top six states with the greatest number of busy airports are all in Europe.
- The difference between the state with the greatest number of busy airports, France, and the states with the least (which has busy airports), any of Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia, or Vermont, is 61.
- France has 62 times the number of busy airports that Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia, or Vermont do.
- The difference between the EU state with the greatest number of busy airports, France, and the US state with the greatest number of busy airports, Texas, is 38.
- France has 2.58 times the number of busy airports that Texas does.
- Delaware is the only state in both the EU and the US without a single busy airport.
- The median number of busy airports in the 28 EU states is 6.5 and the mean 14.46.
- The median number of busy airports in the 50 US states is 5.0 and the mean 6.96.
- The median number of busy airports in the 78 EU and US states is 5.5 and the mean 9.65.
- Data for the EU is from 2016.
- Data for the US is from 2017.
- Fifteen thousand annual passengers amounts to 41 per day, so busy is loosely defined.
The fact that EU states have more busy airports than US states is quite surprising seeing as Europeans are more likely to also utilize high speed rail for long distances. Also, the entirety of the EU can fit inside the Western US so seeing as it is so small compared to the US (less than half the area), one would think that there would be more busy airports in the US. Then again, the EU has over one-and-a-half times the number of people the US does but only 1.16 times the number of busy airports.
Although there is a huge disparity between the leading EU and US states, France and Texas, when one normalizes for population, the number of busy airports turns out to be a 1:1 ratio as the population of France is 2.58 times that of Texas, the exact same ratio as that of busy airports between the two states. This does not hold up for all metrics as the two states are comparable in size (Texas is 1.26 times larger), and France has 13.23 times the number of international tourists that Texas has (note that international tourists for France includes EU visitors while it does not include US visitors for the state of Texas).
So, is population the determining factor? Not really, as Ohio has 1.07 times the population that Greece does, yet Greece has 4.25 times the number of busy airports. Greece is 1.14 times the size that Ohio is, but has 18.72 times the number of international tourists. Here, there is no link between any of population, area, or tourism and the number of busy airports. The shape of the states here might have more to do with the disparity in number of airports for two states that have roughly the same population and the same area. Greece has so many islands that have only two modes of transportation with the rest of the state: sea and air. Whereas in Ohio, one can also travel by land.
Another interesting example is Alaska. Although it is the largest state in both the EU and the US by far (over double the size of the next largest US state: Texas, and over three times larger than the largest EU state: France), it only has 710,231 residents. Yet it has the third greatest number of busy airports in the US and tenth overall (out of 78) in both the EU and the US. Alaska, like Greece, is also unique in that much of the transportation in the state is by bush plane as many towns and even cities do not have road connections to each other.
But Greece and Alaska are special cases. Portugal, which is roughly the same size as Indiana or Maine, has three to four times the number of airports the two US states have. Granted, Portugal has nearly eight times the number of people that Maine does, but only 1.63 times the number of people that Indiana does. Factor into that, that not only are Indiana and Portugal roughly the same size, but they are roughly the same shape as well. So why the disparity in number of busy airports? Over the coming posts, the correlation between area, population, and tourism will be looked at, and whether there are different correlations for EU states than there are for US states.
Eurostat. 2018. "Number of Commercial Airports (with More Than 15,000 Passenger Units per Year)." Accessed November 25, 2018. http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?query=BOOKMARK_DS-054100_QID_5E0B9564_UID_-3F171EB0&layout=TIME,C,X,0;GEO,L,Y,0;TRA_INFR,L,Z,0;INDICATORS,C,Z,1;&zSelection=DS-054100TRA_INFR,AIRP;DS-054100INDICATORS,OBS_FLAG;&rankName1=TIME_1_0_0_0&rankName2=TRA-INFR_1_2_-1_2&rankName3=GEO_1_2_0_1&rankName4=INDICATORS_1_2_-1_2&sortC=ASC_-1_FIRST&rStp=&cStp=&rDCh=&cDCh=&rDM=true&cDM=true&footnes=false&empty=false&wai=false&time_mode=NONE&time_most_recent=false&lang=EN&cfo=%23%23%23%2C%23%23%23.%23%23%23.
Federal Aviation Authority. 2018. "Enplanements of All Commercial Service Airports (by Rank)." Accessed November 26, 2018. https://www.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/passenger_allcargo_stats/passenger/media/cy17-commercial-service-enplanements.pdf.