Wuellner, D. R.,Roy, S.,D'Souza, R. M.

The air transportation network, a fundamental component of critical infrastructure, is formed from a collection of individual air carriers, each one with a methodically designed and engineered network structure. We analyze the individual structures of the seven largest passenger carriers in the USA and find that networks with dense interconnectivity, as quantified by large k cores for high values of k, are extremely resilient to both targeted removal of airports (nodes) and random removal of flight paths (edges). Such networks stay connected and incur minimal increase in an heuristic travel time despite removal of a majority of nodes or edges. Similar results are obtained for targeted removal based on either node degree or centrality. We introduce network rewiring schemes that boost resilience to different levels of perturbation while preserving total number of flight and gate requirements. Recent studies have focused on the asymptotic optimality of hub-and-spoke spatial networks under normal operating conditions, yet our results indicate that point-to-point architectures can be much more resilient to perturbations.