A spatial analysis of FedEx and UPS: hubs, spokes, and network structure

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Despite their importance to the US economy and their rapidly increasing internationalization, relatively little has been published on the geography of Federal Express and United Parcel Service. This article assesses the evolution of the two firms’ airline networks. Their hubs in the US and abroad are analyzed with attention given to location factors such as market centrality and intermediacy, supporting ground transportation networks, and competing and complementary airline networks. Their overall networks are compared with each other and with the networks of American Airlines and Southwest Airlines using several graph theory measures. FedEx and UPS are found to operate networks with a very high concentration of activity at their principal hubs (Memphis and Louisville, respectively), despite the proliferation of hubs and spokes in recent years. Finally, the future outlook for the two package express firms is examined. Key influences on their future spatial elaboration include aircraft technology and the uneven landscape of airline industry liberalization.


This article was originally published in Journal of Transport Geography. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Transport Geography


Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.