This is a subject that has been bugging my few brain cells for a while.
I have read many posts on A.net regarding point to point flying and the 787 being a hub killer and the A380 being an aircraft based on an old fashioned way of travelling(hub to hub). I have also read many posts about the growth predictions of long haul air travel. Just today, I have read a post claiming that long haul air travel will triple by 2025. Whilst I agree that point to point may be the prefered method of travel for many of us, myself included, I do not think that we have, or will have, the airport capacity or aircraft capacity to sustain such growth.
If, as many believe, we are heading towards a point to point situation and hubs will all but disappear, the airports are going to need to expand rapidly to accomadate this expansion. Does this mean that many airports that are a bit out of town (London Luton comes to mind), will start to get more scheduled flights as opposed to lots of holiday charters and LCC flights. Will the holiday charters and LCC flights then have to move to a different airport as the landing charges etc increase (by way of supply and demand and slot sales etc) with the arrival of more point to point long haul traffic. At the moment London Luton is slightly dissmissed as a London airport as it is 30-40 miles (45-70kms) from central London, by people who are negative about LCC airlines, when a LCC airline claims that it flies to London(many other city's across the world fall into this senario too). Will LTN become more accepted as a London airport as the amount of scheduled flights by more 'respectable' airlines grows. The same senario could also be used for STN. LHR is certianly at near capacity and I am guessing that LGW is also at near capacity. So these extra flight have got to go somewhere. This is where I come back to the hub to hub situation not being as threatened as some would like us to believe. I also believe that over time(the next decade), the business case for the VLA will become more and more solid as air travel grows(if it grows at predicted rates). If an airline wants to expand its flights to London but does not want to fly to secondary airport, then it will have to increase aircraft size that it flies to Londons primary airports, in order to grow its business. If it just maintains it aircraft size, it will lose market share to a rival, so I believe the only way to expand is to increase its aircraft size.
Regarding aircraft capacity, can the manufacturers keep up with demand for replacement of old aircraft, and the tripling of capacity that is required(assuming the predictions are correct)? I think that A & B will have to increase production to cope with demand, or we will see a third manufacturer come into the market.
I hope some of the above makes sense as I know what I want to say but I am having trouble writing it in a coherant manner. These are just the ramblings of an intrested traveller, not an expert by any strech of the imagination, so please note that all of the above is sopposition and opinion on my part. I am trying to get my head around the future of aviation, and I have posted this to try and gain some knowledge from the people on A.net with more of it than me. Thank in advance for your answers and contributions.