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What Makes A Good Hub?

Thu Feb 15, 2001 10:26 pm

The Vanguard thread notes how KC is not a good hub, not a big enough market, so this begs the question.

What *does* make a good hub? I guess the local market would have to be big, but how big? KC has got to be a larger market than Memphis (even considering the Elvis tourist trade) but MEM works for Northwest.
Yet Nashville didn't for American.
They all seemed to both be centrally located for a transcontinental airline. What made the difference?

CO does well at EWR and UAL at ORD, but can an airport or a market be too big?

I may be ugly. I may be an American. But don't call me an ugly American.
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RE: What Makes A Good Hub?

Thu Feb 15, 2001 10:43 pm

A good hub:

-loads of crowded hinterland (in terms of population and businesses; after all, you need holiday flyers and business passengers)

-loads of runway/terminal capacity

-distance from any other comparable hub (i.e. monopoly in its market)

- en route location between several other important hubs (you don't want passengers to fly from Los Angeles to New York via a hub in Winnipeg or Florida, for example)

-no other major local airline

That's pretty much it. It would of course also be a factor whether the airport is modern/streamlined/well-managed enough to be pleasant for transit passengers, but I guess that's only secondary considerations.
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RE: What Makes A Good Hub?

Fri Feb 16, 2001 3:56 am

Another rule of airline hubs is that they need to support one-third O & D traffic. So the aircraft need to be sized accordingly. AA failed at RDU, for instance, because they flew MD-80s as the main aircraft. AA failed at Nashville for the same reason. Now, Midway is flourishing at RDU using CRJ's and a cautious mix of F100s and some 73G's. (Glaxo Wellcome pharmaceutical helps keep the RDU-LGW 762 going because it commits to a certain number of seats daily.)

Thus, US has never broken the ceiling of 20-21 million at PIT because the market supports about 7 million 0&D pax at mainline oligopoly high fares.

Every rule has exceptions, I guess. NW uses lots of props and RJs at MEM, but lots of D91's, D93s, 320's etc too. And KLM flies an M11. I don't know what caused AA-BNA to fail when NW-MEM is succeeding.

Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
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RE: What Makes A Good Hub?

Fri Feb 16, 2001 6:15 am

I beg to differ with this article Vanguard Airliness is doing fine here in MCI. Where do you live, anywhere around MCI obviessly now because if you did you would know that Vanguard Airlines is a good airline, and 75% of its flights are full. Really MCI makes a great hub!
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RE: What Makes A Good Hub?

Fri Feb 16, 2001 7:05 am

I think a short connecting time is important (we have 30 mins, except for TLV)  Smile
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RE: What Makes A Good Hub?

Fri Feb 16, 2001 12:30 pm

As a passenger, I think MCI is a good hub for convenience. Living in Denver, it is a much more efficient to connect to cities in other portions of the US having to only make one stop en route. Also, it may be more convenient is some instances by being able to avoid congested airports to the east, especially in the case of bad weather. Some of Vanguards former flights (such as to Buffalo and Myrtle Beach) were making two stops on the way and possibly two changes of aircraft. The new hub will provide a good one-stop convenience to passengers going beyond MCI.

Vanguard's MCI hub will hopefully lure more passengers looking for cheap fares from the west coast and Denver to fly through MCI to connect to midwest and east coast destinations. Compared to DEN, MCI is much older but also much more convenient. Also, their route structure allows for competing service to select city pairs without having to make stops or plane changes en route like on WN (such as MCI-AUS and MCI-SFO (which won't have WN service in the future)). If I am not mistaken, Vanguard also provides the only current nonstop service for MCI-MSY and MCI-MYR (the MCI-MSY route will soon have Midwest Express as a competitor, though). Thus, Vanguard has a unique route structure that will hopefully become appealing to passengers who want good deals in the future. They'll have to do something about that passenger load factor of ~45%, though. They won't survive long with numbers like that. Hopefully, they'll settle down with some of their new routes and generate some cash reserves.
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What It Takes...

Fri Feb 16, 2001 12:59 pm

If you can find a city with 2.5 million people within 1000 miles of the destinations being connected, you have a good base. Even the big hubs have a base of about one-third O&D traffic so a large city will support a large hub.

As airports go, a minimum of two parallel runways spaced far enough apart for simultaneous arrivals is needed. A medium-size hub needs about 30-40 gates, and some of the big ones can reach 60 gates; keeping all of them close together is necessary to keep the connect times short. At the same time, linear piers, such as Atlanta and Denver have, are most efficient for aircraft circulation (though the Pittsburgh 'X' is also an efficient solution).

Now if you find an airport that manages to put the ticketing and bag claim central to the passenger transfers, so that O&D's and transfers are treated equally, then you've got something. Usually, though, an airport good for O&D's is less good for transfers and vice versa, and one that is good for both (e.g. Houston or Phoenix) does not allow aircraft to circulate well. But that's the tradeoff...
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RE: What Makes A Good Hub?

Fri Feb 16, 2001 1:04 pm

YYZ (Toronto Canada) is a great example of a Hub. Toronto is highly populated, a great tourist city, big with immigration, has the country's biggest "Tech Town" and is growing rapidly. Its in the centre of Canada, easy to get a conector to where ever, east or west. The City has a major expansion going on in its Airport, it only helps. As well, a major centre for Air Canada is here.


Drive it like you stole it!
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RE: What Makes A Good Hub?

Fri Feb 16, 2001 1:29 pm

three words.

Sir, don't you think we should turn on the runway lights?" "No, that's just what there expecting us to do!"
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Fri Feb 16, 2001 4:27 pm

don't you think 2.5 Mpax in 1000 miles is a little few? or was it a type and you meant 100? Because FRA has about 11Mpax in about 150 miles and I guess about 250 MPax in around 1000 miles