Passenger Air transport in Europe, 2004 to 2011

One of the things I wanted this year was a little experimentation with Tableau so I had been looking around for some data to play with. The above data comes to you courtesy of Eurostat and it relates to passenger transport by air in Europe. I’ve covered the period 2004-2011 and the countries concerned because they provided complete data for the periods concerned. There are a couple of other countries with incomplete data in the Eurostat tables as well which you can find here.

I did a little bit of work with the data because I wanted to identify two underlying stories. The first one – which you can see in this display – takes the absolute passenger figures and divides them by the population of the countries concerned so that we get a measure for passenger flights per head of population. This is interesting because it can highlight a couple of things – necessity (see Ireland and Iceland for example which are relatively small countries with no other connection options to other countries), economic strength (see Switzerland) and, rather more difficult to measure, the importance of travel.

The other story – which parts of this dashboard hint at – is how economic performance impacts on air transport. For this, I will look to get GDP figures into the underlying data and graph them against passengers per head of population. Already, however, if you look at the time lines for Ireland and Iceland, there is a hint that there can be a major impact in this respect.

This is the first project I have undertaken with Tableau and I am using Tableau Public. It has been a sharp learning experience. One of the things which has struck me is that software can be erratic in how it handles dates. The underlying tables for this project are in Excel, and Excel does not handle years as dates. Tableau attempted to interpret the years as days since sometime in 1899. Fixing that is messy and potentially a logistical night mare in the future. When I went to look at date formatting, I was stunned to see Excel didn’t allow me to format a year as date. This is infuriating.

However, I got something out of this process which is a lot of information on how to get data working in Tableau for me.