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Topic Author
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Joined: Wed Dec 22, 1999 7:38 am

What Is A "hub"?

Tue May 10, 2005 1:21 pm

Hey guys, I'm just looking for the definition of a true "hub". What is a hub? How can tell if one airport is a hub or not. For example, Air Canada has quite a few flights in and out of YYC, and offers connections through YYC, but they do not consider YYC as a hub. There are plenty of other examples that can be used as well. So, what distinguished hub airports from non-hub airports?

Thanks
 
N1120A
Posts: 26468
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Tue May 10, 2005 1:37 pm

The term "hub" in the airline industry comes from the term used to describe the design of a wheel. The center of the wheel is the hub while the pieces that sprout off holding it to the rim are the spokes. Translating this to airline speak, a hub functions as a central connecting point for spokes to meet and people to travel the various directions.
To define a "true hub" as opposed to a spoke with a few connections or a "focus city" which is a city with a lot of point to point traffic you have to look at how the airline runs the operation. Hubs run in what are called banks where you have a bunch of flights coming in, the planes turning and then flights going back out, all within about 2-3 hours. This allows passengers to connect from one spoke to another spoke with minimal connecting time (usually 30 mins-1.5 hours).
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Indy
Posts: 3942
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:37 pm

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Tue May 10, 2005 1:43 pm

There is another term that has slipped my mind tonight. It is what Delta switched to in Atlanta to help cut down on delays.
Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
 
N1120A
Posts: 26468
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 5:40 pm

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Tue May 10, 2005 1:46 pm

Quoting Indy (Reply 2):
There is another term that has slipped my mind tonight. It is what Delta switched to in Atlanta to help cut down on delays.

De-peaking. They basically spread flight times out over more of the day, as opposed to having massive banks of flights just 3-4 times per day. This means that the system gets less f'ed up if ATL goes down like they do a few times a year.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
3201
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2004 4:16 pm

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Tue May 10, 2005 1:49 pm

Quoting Indy (Reply 2):
There is another term that has slipped my mind tonight. It is what Delta switched to in Atlanta to help cut down on delays.

American started it -- "debanking" or a "rolling hub." Just send planes back when they're ready to go back from spokes, don't hold them to all arrive in banks (groups of flights that come in bunched together, sit on the ground for a while, then leave bunched together).

For the really huge hubs like ORD or ATL or DFW where there are double-digit flights per day to lots of spokes, it turns out that there are plenty of connection opportunities with debanked hubs, and it improves aircraft utilization and reduces congestion both in the air around the hub and on the ground with runways, taxiways, and gates.
7 hours aint long-haul
 
3201
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2004 4:16 pm

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Tue May 10, 2005 1:50 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 3):
De-peaking. They basically spread flight times out over more of the day, as opposed to having massive banks of flights just 3-4 times per day.

Beat me to it -- but it wasn't 3-4 times a day in ATL, it was more like 9 or 10.
7 hours aint long-haul
 
Indy
Posts: 3942
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:37 pm

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Tue May 10, 2005 1:58 pm

Quoting 3201 (Reply 4):
rolling hub

Thats the one! I couldn't remember that for the life of me  Smile.
Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
 
slider
Posts: 6808
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 11:42 pm

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Wed May 11, 2005 1:15 am

In airline economic terms, it used to be a specifically designated definition, based on # of flights, size of hub market, etc.

It's much broader now, obviously.
 
planespotting
Posts: 3026
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:54 am

RE: What Is A "hub"?

Wed May 11, 2005 3:37 am

it's profitable and efficient because of Economies of Scale (it's an economic term that says when goods or services are produced in larger quantities the overall unit cost goes down).

When American made DFW into what it is (ultra-super mega hub) they thought at first that they should actually de-hub from DFW. This was in part because their workers weren't doing much for an hour or so at a time and then for about 90 mins they would work, and then stop working again, and so on... they thought it might be more efficient to keep the same amount of flights but just average them out over the whole day. Bob Crandall had one of the top VP's at American do a study and he actually came up with the exact opposite conclusion: to obtain maximum efficiency, American actually needed to increase the number of flights to and from DFW during the day. Common sense would make you think that increasing the number of flights during the day would add to your costs, and it does to a point. But when you think about it, maximizing the output of your aircraft and employees can only make your overall costs go down, which makes your cost / seat mile go down, which brings the break even load factor down, which makes your profits go up.
for example (the numbers are all guesses)

8 flights/day DFW - ORD all MD80's (1200 seats, 962,000 total seat miles)
costs:
Rampers: $6,000/day
Pilots: $6,000/day
F/A's: $8,000/day
Aircraft cost: $50,000
Total Cost: $70,000
cost per seat mile: 7.2 cents/ mile

16 flights/day DFW - ORD all MD80's (2,400 seats, 1,924,000 total seat miles)
Rampers: $6,000/day
Pilots: $12,000/day
F/A's: $16,000/day
Aircraft Cost: $100,000
Total Cost: $134,000
cost per seat mile: 6.9 cents/ mile

so in this example, it is .3 cents per seat mile cheaper to fly 16 flights a day as it opposed to 8. it's a rough example but it gets the point across.
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