Cities Built Around Airports (and China Fact of the Day)

China is building 100 new airports by 2020. By the time that’s all done, 1.5 billion Chinese will live within 90 minutes of an airport.

That's from this review of the forthcoming book Aerotroplis: The Way We'll Live Next, which looks interesting.

The book's premise is that future cities will be built around airports as opposed to the other way around:

What rules in today’s globalized economy is accessibility and speed, and modern airports are its fastest connection points—the physical embodiment of our increasingly e-commerce-driven world. Yes, the vast bulk of trade still goes by sea, but already one-third of its value travels by air. Indeed, the value of air cargo has grown more than four times faster than global trade over the past several decades.

And more:

Individual companies don’t compete. Supply chains compete. Networks and systems compete.” Soon to join that global competition are planned mega-airports/cities right out of the Kasarda playbook: the “aerotropolis emirates” of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, where ambitious monarchs are “playing SimCity for real”; and South Korea’s stunning New Songdo City, a metropolis built around an airport built on a man-made island—a “pocket Manhattan” designed to rival Hong Kong for the cargo connectivity to mainland China that it offers the world economy.

The co-author is Greg Lindsay, who writes about "the intersection of transportation, urbanization, and globalization." For one article he wrote, Lindsay spent three continuous weeks in airplanes or airports.

As someone who has spent too much time looking up UPS and FedEx cargo routes and international commerical flight routes, and spent too much time perusing the message boards of flyertalk.com to read about airport lounges, mileage programs, and the business prospects of the new SFO-ZRH non-stop — I am looking forward to this book!

(On a related note, I reccomend this USA Today Twitter feed for the latest airline industry news.)

5 Responses to Cities Built Around Airports (and China Fact of the Day)

  1. Greg Lindsay says:

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the mention, and please keep an eye on link to greglindsay.org for events in the Bay Area. I hope to see you at one, as you sound like the perfect reader!

    Best,

    Greg

  2. Greg Lindsay spent three continuous weeks in airplanes or airports and survived with his health and sanity intact?

    Either give that man a medal or commit him.

    Citizens of the US tend to be so gung-ho complacent about the status of their country as “number one”, as if it were the world’s superpower high school football team and they’re the cheerleading squad.

    Well, despite all the bongo fury of their Palinesque rah-rah routines, the US is becoming less and less a first-world place and more and more a second-rate has-been.

    Forget the glory of Silicon Valley– Paul Krugman is right.

    We’re turning into a banana republic, and meanwhile China, Singapore, South Korea, Brunei and the United Arab Emirates are building gleaming new infrastructure while we limp along with our antiquated power grid, worn-out highways, and parochial attitudes.

    I laugh when our resident kooks brag about “the richest country in the world”, where the richest 1% control most of its wealth and derive nearly a quarter of its annual income.

    Our once vibrant middle-class is moribund and meanwhile our simpering masters gild their marble-clad palaces.

    How prescient was Henry George in his 1879 book Progress and Poverty wherein he “made the argument that a sizeable portion of the wealth created by social and technological advances in a free market economy is possessed by land owners and monopolists via economic rents, and that this concentration of unearned wealth is the main cause of poverty.”

    No wonder I can’t get that Randy Newman song, “Let’s Burn Down the Cornfields” out of my head.

    Unfortunately, ever since the Reagan Revolution, all the sex has gone out of it and Charles Manson’s social critique makes more and more sense.

    There. I’ve done it.

    Now the white coats will come and make me put my straitjacket back on.;-

  3. Greg Lindsay says:

    Vince, I actually lost ten pounds eating (or rather, NOT eating) airport food. It’s not a diet I would recommend to everyone, but…

  4. Greg, I can see it now:

    “NYT #1 bestseller, The 3 Week Airport Diet”

    Oh, God, let’s not give Tim Ferriss any ideas.;-)

  5. 10Niel says:

    Facebook intern Paul Butler’s analysis Facebook connections resulted in a map of the world that looks very similar to an airline route map, which is an interesting addition to think about with respect to value attached to airports (and whether it’s a chicken and egg problem). link to facebook.com

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