Evaluating A City’s Regional Competitiveness Through An Airport’s Angle The Yangtze River Delta Cities Case

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Submission Summary
The Air Transport industry is one of the key industries in the world, it created 65.5 million jobs directly or indirectly, generated $ 2.7 trillion in revenue, and took 3.6% of the world’s GDP in 2017 (ATAG). The major airports have become key nodes in global production and enterprise systems offering them speed, agility, and connectivity. They are also powerful engines of local economic development, attracting aviation-linked businesses and multinational companies of all types to their environs (Aerotropolis, n.d.). This paper evaluates the competitiveness of the 27 major cities in the Yangtze River Delta (henceforth referred to as YRD) region under the influence of airports (Hu & Deng, 2019). YRD is one of the most developed regions in China with an intensive airport network. There are 16 airports in total including 9 international airports. GARI is an index to evaluate an airport’s impacts on the city’s competitiveness ( Sun & Ma,2020). According to GARI, there are five dimensions in which airports can impact cities’ competitiveness, including airport operation scale, accessibility & connectivity, economic and industrial competitiveness, human and social living standards, external-oriented economic base. The dimensions can be elucidated as the following: 1) Airport operation scale. The concept covers the passenger and cargo flow, amount of flight routes, the rating of airports, and other elements. 2) Accessibility & Connectivity. The airport’s accessibility to the downtown area and connectivity to other cities builds city efficiency. Superior accessibility & connectivity reduce time cost, positively impact the cooperation efficiency of enterprises and regions. 3) Economic and Industrial Competitiveness. Airport attracts aviation-linked businesses, time-sensitive manufactures, multinational companies which are high-value-added and enable to gather high-level talents, benefits the GDP and employment. 4) Human and Social Living Standards. Airports boost international communication and cooperation, these activities ask for an international-standard commercial and built environment. 5) External-Oriented Economic Base. An international airport contributes to the city's external-oriented economic base and improves the attractiveness for Integrated Free Trade Zone development and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Base on the collected data in 2019, the lessons learned from the YRD case are as follows: 1) The 27 YRD cities are generally balanced developed while still fallen into three tiers: Shanghai becomes the only Tier One city, which performances the best in all dimensions. Tier Two cities are Hangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, Wuxi, and Suzhou. They perform variously in industrial and economic competitiveness, and relatively weak in terms of human and social living standards, and the external-oriented economic base. The rest of the YRD cities constitute Tier Three. These cities develop relatively slower, especially in the accessibility and connectivity, economic and industrial competitiveness. 2) Cities with larger airports are with stronger city competitiveness, while some are relatively weak in the dimension of human and Social Living Standards; cities with smaller airports are relatively less competitive in all five dimensions mentioned above; cities without their own airports but nearby major airports can also improve the city competitiveness by benefiting from the positive impacts of the nearby airports.
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3: Smartness and development. Al-Souq: innovating for performance and management
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PhD student
South China University of Technology
Aerotropolis Institute China

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