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Is 'Hub-and-Spoke' Dead?  
User currently offlineChrisNH From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 4163 posts, RR: 2
Posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8227 times:

I don't know how to answer that, so I thought I'd ask! I get the sense that 'hub-and-spoke' has declined as an operational model. NW at Memphis; DL at DFW; UA at IAD. But there are thriving hubs out there, too. So I'll put it to experts here: Do you see Hub-and-Spoke as a still-viable operational model for U.S. domestic airlines?

52 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineHPRamper From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4141 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8210 times:

Hub and spoke will exist as long as small markets exist. Not everyone feels like driving to a large metropolitan area to fly anywhere.

User currently onlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21854 posts, RR: 55
Reply 2, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8190 times:

Quoting HPRamper (Reply 1):
Hub and spoke will exist as long as small markets exist. Not everyone feels like driving to a large metropolitan area to fly anywhere.

 checkmark  Hub and spoke isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinePSU.DTW.SCE From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 7767 posts, RR: 27
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8100 times:

The hub and spoke model is far from dead. As said there are many instances where small and medium sized communities cannot justify nonstop service to many destinations. Even large cities could not solely rely on O&D between some smaller communities. The need for national and international connectivity requires the hub & spoke model which is still very much effective today, just as it was years ago.

What has happened though, is that there were too many hubs at one point and with newer, longer range aircraft, some hubs proved to be redundant and that airlines hubs generally didn't work financially on connections alone in low O&D markets.

With the A320 series and 737NG's, airlines how had narrowbody aircraft capable of flying Trans-cons. The RJ's allowed for service into smaller airports with a greater range than prop aircraft.

Of the examples you list, only DL at DFW no longer exists. DL leaving DFW isn't really an example of the hub & spoke model being broken, but more or less DL reallocating resources to their strongholds (ATL) and giving up on a losing battle with AA (and to a lesser extent WN). UA at IAD is doing just fine, as is NW at MEM. Both operate a hub that is scaled appropriately for market and competition.

I think we have passed the time of closing hubs. Right now, across the board, the airlines have appeared to all have rationalized their hub operations by either closing/scaling back/ or consolidating operations at other hubs to provide an adequate level of service.


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8760 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8087 times:

Hub and spoke is the most efficient way to run the show. Compared to the WN model, hub/spoke lets you cover the same 50 cities (between each other) with far fewer aircraft and less fuel. Consider that Frontier has only 59 aircraft but they cover 62 cities. Southwest has 500 aircraft and they cover 64 cities. To run constant nonstops between all points, you need zillions of aircraft and lots of fuel.

Clearly, point to point does not work for most city pairs, and never will. But where p2p can work, it is great.


User currently offlineFCYTravis From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 1191 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8071 times:

Hub-and-spoke is dead? Someone better let AA @ DFW, UA @ ORD, DL @ ATL, CO @ IAH, NW @ MSP know about that, stat!

Markets such as Elmira/Corning, Fresno, Grand Junction, Rapid City, Shreveport, Boise, Jacksonville and dozens, if not hundreds, more will never be able to support point-to-point service outside limited markets. The modern hub-and-spoke system enables these places to have one-stop connectivity to just about anywhere in the world.

[Edited 2007-06-11 20:37:02]


USAir A321 service now departing for SFO with fuel stops in CAK, COS and RNO. Enjoy your flight.
User currently offlineAnalog From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 1900 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8035 times:

Quoting Flighty (Reply 4):
Consider that Frontier has only 59 aircraft but they cover 62 cities. Southwest has 500 aircraft and they cover 64 cities. To run constant nonstops between all points, you need zillions of aircraft and lots of fuel.

Not really a fair comparison; but WN carries a lot more pax than F9. I could cover 100 cities with 1 aircraft; I just wouldn't carry very many pax or have frequent service.

Assuming similar aircraft and load factors, hub and spoke uses more fuel, as pax need to fly greater distances and have an extra cycle (which takes a fair amount of fuel). OTOH nonstops only work where the demand is sufficient, otherwise the comparison becomes somewhat moot.


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8760 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 7980 times:

Quoting Analog (Reply 6):
Not really a fair comparison; but WN carries a lot more pax than F9. I could cover 100 cities with 1 aircraft; I just wouldn't carry very many pax or have frequent service.

That is true. Haha.

Quoting Analog (Reply 6):
OTOH nonstops only work where the demand is sufficient, otherwise the comparison becomes somewhat moot.

Right, and it's usually not sufficient. So the 2 models really feed on different customers. Each model is best in its own niche. For most journeys, point-to-point is not possible since the model is impractical for things like BTV-SJC. But for things like JFK-MCO, clearly p2p is the most efficient way to go. So it depends on the market. The 2 models do not compete per se nearly as much as the press would have us believe.


User currently offlineBaron95 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 1335 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 7952 times:

Hub and spoke will be alive and well for a long time. But we will also see a number of new point-to-point routes develop.

It amazes me that people think that it is one or the other. As most things in life, it is a bit of both. Airlines with strong hubs (AA, DL, BA) will be in a great position to opend point-to-point destinations. They go hand in hand.



Killer Fleet: E190, 737-900ER, 777-300ER
User currently offlineDLPMMM From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 3602 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 7939 times:

Hub and spoke is not dead.

The biggest change is that the spokes are getting longer. The need to change planes twice in a trip is becoming more and more rare, even on intercontinental trips.

Southwest's route structure is more like a bunch of minihubs (or nodes). There are alot of people who connect in a lot of wierd places (and often multiple times) on WN to get where they are going.


User currently offlineEXAAUADL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7939 times:

No, but the US is/was clearly overhubbed..

Remember hubs in:

GSO-CO
DAY-PI/US
IND-US
MCI-US/BN/EA
SYR-PI
RNO-QQ
SJC-AA/QQ/AA
CMH-HP


Some would agrue that MEM, CLE, PIT, CVG should go away.

Hubs are necvessary or else how will someone get to EUG from BGR? In the old dthere was extnsive interlining ays, there werent "hubs" per se, but there was extenive interlining (Changing from OZ to UA in ORD or NC to NW in MSP is still a hub isnt it?) and some of the local service carrires received a subsidy.


User currently offlineDnl65 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 82 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7911 times:

What makes any of you think that WN doesn't hub? They are less dependant than say AA or AU but they still hub. Ever try to go up the east coast on WN? there is a really high probabilituy you will get the chance tho visit either BWI or PHL and change planes. How about east west? Welcome to Midway. The whole idea of WN's point to point model is that it doesn't really exist.

User currently offlineSwissy From Switzerland, joined Jan 2005, 1734 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7902 times:

It never will...........

If global traffic will increase based on some predictions more airports (world wide) will have slot restrictions, I would say
"The Hub" will be re defined.

Cheers,


User currently offlinePoitin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7844 times:

Quoting Flighty (Reply 4):
Hub and spoke is the most efficient way to run the show.

Only if there is not enough traffic to warrant point-to-point. There are many markets were it will be more efficient to fly a regional jet with twenty or thirty people to a larger airport and forward them on. However, the number of "hubs" will increase as more and more secondary airports start to develop city pairs. Thus you might see Manchester UK and Manchester NH have direct service instead of flying MHT-BOS-LHR-MAN.

The hubs will become smaller and smaller and more and more numerous to the point they will look like point to point, but still have have little airplanes coming in from somewhere else so people can catch the plane.


User currently offlineFlyTUITravel From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 723 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7827 times:

Can someone please tell me what the hell "Hub-and-Spoke" is ?!


FLYTUITRAVEL.


User currently offlineBaron95 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 1335 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7785 times:

Quoting Poitin (Reply 13):
There are many markets were it will be more efficient to fly a regional jet with twenty or thirty people to a larger airport and forward them on. However, the number of "hubs" will increase as more and more secondary airports start to develop city pairs. Thus you might see Manchester UK and Manchester NH have direct service instead of flying MHT-BOS-LHR-MAN.

Particularly when smaller supper efficinet aircraft like 787s and the 757-200 replacement (probably a 737RS-800LR) start flying around the pond. 20 years ago, the choices to cross the pond were 747-200/300 and DC-10s. Now we also have 777s, 767s, a330s and even the odd 757-200. Soon there will be scores of 787s, A350s, 737RS and A320RS flying the pond. Combine that with open skies and what Poitin mentioned will become more and more common.



Killer Fleet: E190, 737-900ER, 777-300ER
User currently offlineBaron95 From United States of America, joined May 2006, 1335 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7779 times:

Quoting FlyTUITravel (Reply 14):
Can someone please tell me what the hell "Hub-and-Spoke" is ?!

Think of a bycicle wheel. If you want to fly from one end of the wheel to the other side you have two options:

1 - Go directly around the perimiter of the wheel.
2 - Take a spoke to the center (hub) and onother spoke out.

The advantage of the hub and spoke is that the flights around the spokes can be shared by passangers going to many other destinations. However 2 flights instead of one would be required.



Killer Fleet: E190, 737-900ER, 777-300ER
User currently offlineFCYTravis From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 1191 posts, RR: 6
Reply 17, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7767 times:

Quoting Poitin (Reply 13):
Thus you might see Manchester UK and Manchester NH have direct service instead of flying MHT-BOS-LHR-MAN.

There's no flights from MHT-BOS  Smile

I doubt you'll ever see service like MHT-MAN. That's way too thin of an O&D market to serve. There's already one-stop service over several hubs, including PHL.



USAir A321 service now departing for SFO with fuel stops in CAK, COS and RNO. Enjoy your flight.
User currently offlineRwSEA From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 3133 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7767 times:

I think what we're seeing is that in today's environment, hub and spoke definitely has a place, but airlines are figuring out that O&D traffic is an important part of the equation.

For instance, take the case of DL. In the 1990s, CVG was one of the most profitable hubs out there. But after 9/11, things changed - the availability of non-stop service has increased with new LCCs, and people no longer have to connect. Airlines are realizing that they can't continue to operate mega-hubs in small cities with little O&D profitably. That's why, in DL's example, SLC and CVG will always have a place, but at the same time there has been lots of expansion in places like LAX and JFK which offer much more O&D business.

And of course, airlines seem to have preferences. UA and CO have almost no non-hub routes, while DL, AA, and US all have multiple focus cities and non-hub routes. NW is somewhere in the middle. B6 has many focus cities, same with WN. F9 is almost entirely based in DEN. AS has a large hub, a few smaller hubs, and a good amount of P2P.

Hub and spoke will always be important, but I think the airlines will add more P2P if they see increased yields.


User currently offlinePoitin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7718 times:

Quoting FlyTUITravel (Reply 14):
Can someone please tell me what the hell "Hub-and-Spoke" is ?!

In my example, BOS and LHR are the hubs on the spoke of the wheel branching out to smaller airport. Thus MHT-BOS would be a spoke. BOS and LHR are hub to hub, and LHR to MAN is a second spoke. On the other hand, MHT to MAN is called point to point.

Quoting Baron95 (Reply 15):

Particularly when smaller supper efficinet aircraft like 787s and the 757-200 replacement (probably a 737RS-800LR) start flying around the pond. 20 years ago, the choices to cross the pond were 747-200/300 and DC-10s. Now we also have 777s, 767s, a330s and even the odd 757-200. Soon there will be scores of 787s, A350s, 737RS and A320RS flying the pond. Combine that with open skies and what Poitin mentioned will become more and more common.

Absolutely. And it will be the new Long Haul LCCs doing it.

Quoting FCYTravis (Reply 17):
Quoting Poitin (Reply 13):
Thus you might see Manchester UK and Manchester NH have direct service instead of flying MHT-BOS-LHR-MAN.

There's no flights from MHT-BOS Smile

I doubt you'll ever see service like MHT-MAN. That's way too thin of an O&D market to serve. There's already one-stop service over several hubs, including PHL.

Never say never, particularly with people like Micheal O'Leary working the issue. You are right about no MHT-BOS at this time, but that is more the exception. This is where I can get from MHT.

http://www.flymanchester.com/flightinfo/


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8760 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7700 times:

Quoting RwSEA (Reply 18):
I think what we're seeing is that in today's environment, hub and spoke definitely has a place, but airlines are figuring out that O&D traffic is an important part of the equation.

That is a great point. Really good hubs with O&D can outcompete connect-only hubs. Those "connect" hubs are the particular species that ended up dying.

The really big hubs are fine because guess what, they are a p2p network first and a connect hub second. The stronger your local O&D, the cheaper you can offer connects, and you kill the weak hubs of your enemies that way.


User currently offlinePoitin From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 7653 times:

Quoting Flighty (Reply 20):
The stronger your local O&D, the cheaper you can offer connects, and you kill the weak hubs of your enemies that way.

That is an excellent point. O&D is an important issue, and I think you will see more and more P2P as cheaper, smaller and efficient aircraft become available as Baron95 points out. Will BOS and JFK continue to be hubs? Yes, but to a lower level. They will never go away completely, but there will be some point that the local O&D traffic makes up the bulk of the overall traffic as other P2P city pairs take up part of the current hub traffic.


User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 7608 times:

Quoting ChrisNH (Thread starter):
I don't know how to answer that, so I thought I'd ask! I get the sense that 'hub-and-spoke' has declined as an operational model. NW at Memphis; DL at DFW; UA at IAD. But there are thriving hubs out there, too. So I'll put it to experts here: Do you see Hub-and-Spoke as a still-viable operational model for U.S. domestic airlines?

If it were the entire air transportation system would implode.

[Edited 2007-06-11 22:01:01]

User currently offlineFCYTravis From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 1191 posts, RR: 6
Reply 23, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 7555 times:

Quoting Poitin (Reply 21):
Will BOS and JFK continue to be hubs?

BOS is not a hub for any airline - it's a focus city for AA, DL and US, though.



USAir A321 service now departing for SFO with fuel stops in CAK, COS and RNO. Enjoy your flight.
User currently offlineFCYTravis From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 1191 posts, RR: 6
Reply 24, posted (7 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 7530 times:

Quoting Flighty (Reply 20):
The really big hubs are fine because guess what, they are a p2p network first and a connect hub second. The stronger your local O&D, the cheaper you can offer connects, and you kill the weak hubs of your enemies that way.

There are a few exceptions, and those are generally dictated by geography. CLT is not an O&D powerhouse, for example, but it's the best location for a Southeastern hub other than ATL, so US has been able to retain and even build their services there by providing a competitive counterbalance to Delta and outcompeting MEM's even worse O&D and less-central location.



USAir A321 service now departing for SFO with fuel stops in CAK, COS and RNO. Enjoy your flight.
25 CitrusCritter : FL is right in the middle somewhere as well. ATL is huge, but they are developing a lot of P2Ps, especially to the Florida focus cities, as well as t
26 ChrisNH : As a rather selfish hope, that would be cool. Not to mention a small bit of marketing cache by being the first-ever Manchester-Manchester nonstop. Op
27 Post contains images Kevin777 : Indeed, WN makes the best of two worlds IMO - the bread and butter is point-to-point, but no reason not to take on connecting pax too if people want
28 Flynavy : I've seen folks connect thru PHF on FL, ususally heading south after arriving from BOS and/or LGA. It's definitely a cash cow for them, and a very con
29 Ptugarin : I think the trend is to eliminate multi-hub operations with overlapping markets; The airlines have figured that having overblown hub operations in geo
30 COSPN : People just need to uderstand the United states and how growth happens.... Mr/Ms. Businesspoerson needs to grow their business......therefore requres
31 Luvfa : WN is a p2p model for the most part but does do some hubbing through BWI, PHL, MDW, MCO, TPA, MCI, STL, DAL, HOU, BNA, PHX, LAS, LAX, OAK. However we
32 Post contains links InnocuousFox : Do we have to discuss this every single month?
33 InnocuousFox : What IS the function of a hub and star system? To be able to connect passengers from across your entire network specifically so you don't have to run
34 XT6Wagon : International is going to Spoke -> hub -> international desitnation instead of spoke ->hub ->international flight -> hub -spoke Domestic will IMO diso
35 Lexy : But WN's frequencies to those cities eat F9's lunch on a daily basis. WN is about frequency, not numbers of destinations.
36 Cloudboy : Right now it's kind of a chaos situation - really, really conventional thinking says that hubs are good, the "new" conventional thinking (a.k.a the LL
37 Post contains links Itsnotfinals : F9 has 59 aircraft http://www.frontierairlines.com/fron...o-we-are/company-info/our-fleet.do WN has 490 aircraft "Southwest currently operates 490 Bo
38 Post contains links Rampart : However, I would argue that hub-like systems existed in the 60s and 70s already so that cities like these could be served by "trunk lines". Delta was
39 FreequentFlier : Huh? Granted, DL dehubbed DFW, but only because it lost out to AA's larger DFW hub. Meanwhile, MEM is not huge by any means but I've seen no indicati
40 Access-Air : Actually I thinks that it is becoming passe, not everyone in a small town is fond of having to funnel into a major hub to get where they are going...
41 InnocuousFox : That's tough. Enid, OK is not going to see direct service to Pocatello, ID. It's mathematically impossible to NOT funnel small town traffic through h
42 DiscoverCSG : Well, when I fly out of ATL Thursday morning, I'll check to see if there's any hint of a DL hub left there.
43 Itsnotfinals : Especially now that CRJ's (
44 DAYflyer : I think this sums it up rather well. Places like DAY do not have enough O & D traffic to justfiy a hub or many non-stop services. As a result the air
45 Flighty : No. Airlines are not entrenched. They do exactly whatever the best thing is, since they can easily launch a million nonstops IF it will make more mon
46 RJNUT : Airlines do not do exactly what the best thing is!!! never have , never will..!!
47 Flighty : They do lots of forecasts all the time. Sometimes they're right, sometimes wrong. But they do what they _think_ is right. If they see a new nonstop t
48 Ckfred : At one point, AA had too many hubs. It created RDU to funnel traffic from the Northeast, upper Midwest, and West into Florida, while BNA was supposed
49 PGNCS : Just because certain hubs are not doing well (or die) doesn't mean the model is dead. Hub and spoke will be dead as soon as there are three roundtrip
50 Lexy : If you do some research, you'll find their BNA hub was one of the most successful AA had at the time. The closing of it was made known by their forme
51 Itsnotfinals : WN has expanded a lot in the Southeast by using BNA as a hub, American really did not help themselves at all with handing over a good location to a c
52 Access-Air : Why didnt you just say "get over it Access-Air?" I am simply stating that if people had their way they would fly nonstop to every little nook and cra
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