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Is air transport an effective tool for sustainable development?


  • Ben Daley

    (Centre for Development, Environment and Policy, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK)


Several authoritative studies indicate that air transport makes a strong, positive contribution to economic development - a contribution that far outweighs the environmental and social costs of aviation. This article investigates this benign view, analysing the assumptions upon which it is based and arguing that the relationship between air transport and economic benefits may be more complex than is commonly held. In particular, the benefits of air transport services may be highly unevenly distributed, with particular groups benefiting from air transport provision to a far greater extent than others. Hence this article poses the question of whether air transport is an effective tool for sustainable development, or whether it simply reinforces existing patterns of economic interest and political hegemony. Based on analysis of a range of key documents, some criteria are presented that could potentially be used to indicate how air transport may most effectively be used to promote sustainable development. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Daley, 2009. "Is air transport an effective tool for sustainable development?," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(4), pages 210-219.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:17:y:2009:i:4:p:210-219
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.383

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Upham, 2001. "Environmental Capacity of Aviation: Theoretical Issues and Basic Research Directions," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(5), pages 721-734.
    2. Andrea Goldstein, 2001. "Infrastructure Development and Regulatory Reform in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Air Transport," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(2), pages 221-248, February.
    3. Gillingwater, David, 2003. "Aviation and sustainability," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 143-143.
    4. Upham, Paul & Thomas, Callum & Gillingwater, David & Raper, David, 2003. "Environmental capacity and airport operations: current issues and future prospects," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 145-151.
    5. Erling Holden & Kristin Linnerud, 2007. "The sustainable development area: satisfying basic needs and safeguarding ecological sustainability," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(3), pages 174-187.
    6. Button, Kenneth, 2003. "The potential of meta-analysis and value transfers as part of airport environmental appraisal," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 167-176.
    7. Ignaccolo, Matteo, 2000. "Environmental capacity: noise pollution at Catania-Fontanarossa international airport," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 191-199.
    8. Forsyth, Peter, 2007. "The impacts of emerging aviation trends on airport infrastructure," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 45-52.
    9. Liam Campling & Michel Rosalie, 2006. "Sustaining social development in a small island developing state? The case of Seychelles," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 115-125.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ginieis, Matías & Sánchez-Rebull, María-Victoria & Campa-Planas, Fernando, 2012. "The academic journal literature on air transport: Analysis using systematic literature review methodology," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 31-35.

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