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Topic: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: knope2001
Posted 2012-11-25 09:32:40 and read 7277 times.

A recent tangent in another thread speculated that Southwest has more mainline flights at Midway than American and O’Hare, and probably more than United at O’Hare. That lead me to spend some time comparing activity and traffic of those three airlines at Chicago, and I thought people here might find it of interest. The latest data available is from the July 2012 T100’s for this, but that only includes domestic. International lags several months. To avoid mixing seasons (because traffic does vary quite a bit from season to season) I used international from July of 2011. Obviously that's not perfect, but what year-over-year net changes there were to international flying here are probably not too significnat compared to the grand totals anyway. Note that I rolled AirTran numbers into Southwest totals as well. All of these stats are departures from MDW / ORD for the entire month of July.

Mainline Flights Only
7,636 WN
6,189 UA
4,835 AA

Mainline Passengers
890,782 WN
844,374 UA
651,102 AA

Mainline + Large RJ Flights
7,636 WN
10,995 UA
6,599 AA

Mainline + Large RJ Passengers
890,782 WN
1,126,455 UA
743,325 AA

Mainline + All RJ Flights
7,636 WN
18,844 UA
14,440 AA

Mainline + All RJ Passengers
890,782 WN
1,439,819 UA
1,034,654 AA

Another way to compare these is by saying for every 100 of airline X, are 80 of airline Y. Sometimes expressing this stuff in those sorts of ratios makes a more clean comparison.

Mainline
For every 100 Southwest flights there were 81.1 United and 63.3 American.
For every 100 Southwest passengers there were 94.8 United and 73.1 American

Mainline + Large RJ
For every 100 United flights there were 69.4 Southwest and 60.0 American.
For every 100 United passengers there were 79.1 Southwest and 66.0 American

Mainline + All RJ
For every 100 United flights there were 76.6 American and 40.5 Southwest
For every 100 United passengers there were 71.9 American and 61.9 Southwest

For those specifically interested in the UA vs AA comparison at ORD
For every 100 United mainline flights there were 78.1 American
For every 100 United mainline passengers there were 77.1 American
For every 100 United large RJ flights there were 36.7 American
For every 100 United large RJ passengers there were 32.7 American
For every 100 United small RJ flights there were 99.9 American
For every 100 United small RJ passengers there were 93.0 American
For every 100 United all-RJ flights there were 75.9 American
For every 100 United all-RJ passengers there were 64.4 American
For every 100 United all-operations flights there were 76.6 American
For every 100 United all-operations passengers there were 71.9 American

So....Southwest mainline does have more departures and more onboard passengers than mainline United or mainline American does at O'Hare. When you start to roll in code-sharing partners, however, things reverse. I decided to separately denote the large RJ's and small RJ's because the experience on the larger RJ is notably closer to mainline than the 50-37 seat RJ's -- premium seating available, increased baggage space, more onboard offerings, more likelihood of a "real" gate as opposed to a mass RJ gate. That's not to say the large RJ experience is equal to the mainline experience, of course. But I think it's fair to be clear about how much is mainline, large RJ, and small RJ.

A few other points:
--This does not attempt to judge how many *local passengers* each airlines serves in Chicago, as opposed to connecting passengers. We know UA and AA defintely have large volumes of connecting traffic, and if I recall correctly MDW is either #1 or #2 in the Southwest system in percentage of passengers who are connecting. So connections are big for all three, but it's hard to exactly judge how much local Chicago traffic uses WN, UA or AA from these stats.
--Taking that a step further, it would also be interesting to know how much Chicago-originating traffic uses each airline, as opposed to other-city-originating traffic.
--American definitely is #2 at ORD, but the numbers don't strike me as all *that* much different, percentage-wise, than ten or twenty years ago. They might be, and if someone has similar info from prior years, it would be interesting to see. But it's not like suddenly AA is 90% of UA, or 40% of UA. The ratio of around 70-75% seems about right, historically.
--The sharp limits on large RJ's that AA has faced show up pretty clearly here -- AA is nearly on par with United on smaller RJ's, but roughy only 1/3 of what UA offers on larger RJ's. No surprise that this is a gap AA would like to narrow.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: United1
Posted 2012-11-25 09:54:44 and read 7140 times.

Quoting knope2001 (Thread starter):
When you start to roll in code-sharing partners, however, things reverse.

....keep in mind that neither UAX or Eagle are code share partners. Most (if not all out of ORD) of that capacity is contracted by UA/AA and flown on their behalf. UA/AA keep the revenue, dictate where, when, with what and market the flights. From an academic perspective is neat the see the breakdown between mainline and regional flights but from a real word/business perspective that passenger on that 50 seat RJ is just as much a UA passenger as is one who is flying on a 744.

[Edited 2012-11-25 09:56:42]

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: UALFAson
Posted 2012-11-25 10:15:58 and read 7039 times.

Interesting info knope2001. Thanks for taking the time to analyze!

What jumped out to me were the first two entries. Although WN has 1500 more mainline flights (or 23 percent) than UA, they only carry about 46,000 more passengers (about 5.5 percent).

Not that I expect you to do this, but would be interesting to incorporate load factors into this analysis. Based on the above info, I would guess that WN is flying a lot more empty seats out of CHI than UA is. Take a market like IND, for example. UA has the ability to "right size" service and offload most, if not all, of it to UAX carriers to meet demand, whereas WN either has to tolerate half-empty (or whatever %) aircraft or drop the market completely.

Guess they decided the smaller 717s weren't the answer.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: PDX88
Posted 2012-11-25 10:43:20 and read 6940 times.

Quoting UALFAson (Reply 2):
What jumped out to me were the first two entries. Although WN has 1500 more mainline flights (or 23 percent) than UA, they only carry about 46,000 more passengers (about 5.5 percent).

Equipment size probably factors into that.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: thekennady
Posted 2012-11-25 10:45:25 and read 6930 times.

ORD is a great airport but its annoying to see all these Rjs, dont thing anything will change anytime soon. WN has nearly a monopoly at MDW so not too exciting....not many rjs at MDW though.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: ExpressJet_ERJ
Posted 2012-11-25 11:59:15 and read 6646 times.

While this is true. There is also an insane usage of RJs. Examples that come to mind are ORD-STL on UA, ORD-CMH on AA. ORD to LGA (on DL and UA), there are so many large to large cities done by RJs now. The cost is higher, and it just leads to congestion. Would be so awesome if the ORD airport or fed govt stepped up and said, "UA you fly 13 (just example) flights a day between STL-ORD, if you reduce this to 9 we will give you a subsidy" It would be a win win. But I know there is a lot more to it.

[Edited 2012-11-25 16:32:39 by SA7700]

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: usflyguy
Posted 2012-11-25 12:15:02 and read 6565 times.

Quoting ExpressJet_ERJ (Reply 6):
Quoting UALFAson (Reply 2):
Although WN has 1500 more mainline flights (or 23 percent) than UA, they only carry about 46,000 more passengers (about 5.5 percent).

A comparison of mainline capacity would help with that. WN only flies 737's, UA flies 777, 767, 757, A320, etc that all have higher capacity than WN's 737s.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: knope2001
Posted 2012-11-25 12:42:26 and read 6450 times.

Here's some additional info related to some questions posed:

Mainline average seats per flight
138.0 WN
158.4 UA
155.2 AA

Mainline load factor
84.6% WN
86.1% UA
86.8% AA

Total average seats per flight
138.0 WN
90.2 UA
85.4 AA

Total loan factor
84.6% WN
84.7% UA
83.9% AA

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: FlyingHollander
Posted 2012-11-25 13:05:36 and read 6356 times.

Quoting ExpressJet_ERJ (Reply 6):
"UA you fly 13 (just example) flights a day between STL-ORD, if you reduce this to 9 we will give you a subsidy"

I agree that frequency should go down on city pairs like this. I get that frequency is important but I believe the US airlines have gone overboard.

LH has 6 daily flights between FRA and AMS (various types of A319 and 737 and 1 RJ).
UN has 12 daily flights between ORD and MSP (8 E-170s, 4 A319s).

Why can Europeans manage with 6 daily frequencies but do Americans need doubled that? I find this very odd.

However, I don't agree though that the government should interfere in such matters.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: CIDFlyer
Posted 2012-11-25 13:32:58 and read 6228 times.

Quoting FlyingHollander (Reply 9):

I agree that frequency should go down on city pairs like this. I get that frequency is important but I believe the US airlines have gone overboard.

LH has 6 daily flights between FRA and AMS (various types of A319 and 737 and 1 RJ).
UN has 12 daily flights between ORD and MSP (8 E-170s, 4 A319s).

Why can Europeans manage with 6 daily frequencies but do Americans need doubled that? I find this very odd.

However, I don't agree though that the government should interfere in such matters.

keep in mind Europe has a much more developed passenger train system and high speed at that, than the US does, so that probably accounts for less flights. The US has always been more about flying than train travel since deregulation it seems.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: Antoniemey
Posted 2012-11-25 14:17:45 and read 6099 times.

Quoting knope2001 (Reply 8):
Mainline average seats per flight
138.0 WN
158.4 UA
155.2 AA

Interesting that WN's average is an even 138... I would have thought that the 800s would pull it up a bit more... or are there enough 500s rotating through to cancel that out?

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: knope2001
Posted 2012-11-25 15:18:24 and read 5927 times.

Quoting Antoniemey (Reply 12):
Interesting that WN's average is an even 138... I would have thought that the 800s would pull it up a bit more... or are there enough 500s rotating through to cancel that out?

Remember that AirTran is included as well

337 departures with 117 seats
191 departures with 122 seats
250 departures with 175 seats
6598 departures with 137-143 seats

The average seats came out to 137.9559, which rounds to 138.0

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: FWAERJ
Posted 2012-11-25 15:32:37 and read 5856 times.

Quoting ExpressJet_ERJ (Reply 6):
ORD-CMH on AA.

Eagle has an MX base at CMH. It's a lot like how most of the DL flights here at FWA are operated by 9E: in both cases, they have to ferry the RJs in for MX.

Quoting ExpressJet_ERJ (Reply 6):
ORD-STL on UA

STL is an AX (United Express/Trans States) crew base, dating back to when AX was a TW Express carrier.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: N62NA
Posted 2012-11-26 09:37:20 and read 2009 times.

Quoting ExpressJet_ERJ (Reply 5):
Would be so awesome if the ORD airport or fed govt stepped up and said, "UA you fly 13 (just example) flights a day between STL-ORD, if you reduce this to 9 we will give you a subsidy" It would be a win win.

Neither ORD, the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, nor the Federal government have any money for subsidies.

Quoting FlyingHollander (Reply 8):
Why can Europeans manage with 6 daily frequencies but do Americans need doubled that? I find this very odd.

Because Americans are brainwashed into thinking that they will die if they have to wait 90 minutes for the next flight instead of "just" 60 minutes.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: LHCVG
Posted 2012-11-26 09:47:20 and read 1952 times.

Quoting UALFAson (Reply 2):
Not that I expect you to do this, but would be interesting to incorporate load factors into this analysis. Based on the above info, I would guess that WN is flying a lot more empty seats out of CHI than UA is. Take a market like IND, for example. UA has the ability to "right size" service and offload most, if not all, of it to UAX carriers to meet demand, whereas WN either has to tolerate half-empty (or whatever %) aircraft or drop the market completely.

IIRC, I think I read a while back that WN knowingly tolerates some level of empty seats as the flip side to flying a streamlined one-type fleet. Obviously their overall load factors don't hurt according to these numbers, but I would submit that even when WN has more empty seats for a comparable mainline flight, they have worked that into their plan network-wise.

Quoting FWAERJ (Reply 12):
Eagle has an MX base at CMH. It's a lot like how most of the DL flights here at FWA are operated by 9E: in both cases, they have to ferry the RJs in for MX.

At the risk of quibbling, I thought it was a Republic mx base, hence why Republic carriers of all stripes (and Embraers) are very popular there. Does Eagle have one as well?

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: airbazar
Posted 2012-11-26 09:57:34 and read 1912 times.

Quoting United1 (Reply 1):
From an academic perspective is neat the see the breakdown between mainline and regional flights but from a real word/business perspective that passenger on that 50 seat RJ is just as much a UA passenger as is one who is flying on a 744.

The passenger is but that's all. If it wasn't for the contracts, most of those routes could not be operated at a profit and therefore they wouldn't exist. Many great airlines have gone out of business because they couldn't figure out this operating model soon enough.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: FWAERJ
Posted 2012-11-26 10:29:50 and read 1808 times.

Quoting LHCVG (Reply 14):
At the risk of quibbling, I thought it was a Republic mx base, hence why Republic carriers of all stripes (and Embraers) are very popular there. Does Eagle have one as well?

Yes, Eagle also has an MX base at CMH.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: FlyingHollander
Posted 2012-11-26 10:47:13 and read 1748 times.

Quoting N62NA (Reply 13):
Because Americans are brainwashed into thinking that they will die if they have to wait 90 minutes for the next flight instead of "just" 60 minutes.

This is the only thing that I can think of too even though its ridiculous. I'm really curious what would happen if for example United would offer less frequency on larger aircraft. I can't imagine that any significant number of loyal UN fliers would switch over to AA. I also wonder if having more amenities in the airport would change the mindset of travelers in the US somewhat.

Quoting CIDFlyer (Reply 9):
keep in mind Europe has a much more developed passenger train system and high speed at that, than the US does, so that probably accounts for less flights. The US has always been more about flying than train travel since deregulation it seems.

Yes, some routes have seen drastic decreases in passenger numbers because of HSR (LON-BRU, BCN-MAD), but 90% of routes isn't affected by this. For example, from AMS only Brussels, Paris, Cologne, Düsseldorf and maybe Frankfurt have serious competition from HSR. Nobody in their right mind would consider taking the train from AMS to Barcelona, Rome, Warsaw or Copenhagen.

Topic: RE: Comparison Of Three Chicago Hub Airlines
Username: LHCVG
Posted 2012-11-26 10:50:16 and read 1732 times.

Quoting FWAERJ (Reply 16):
Yes, Eagle also has an MX base at CMH.

It really IS Embraer City in Columbus!


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