e38
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 7:02 pm

Quoting olddominion727 (thread starter), " . . . BN tried, no-go, . . ." Well, that's not exactly true.

and afcjets, "BN did not last for long . . ." Ummm, yes, they did.

For the original Braniff International Airways (BN), Kansas City (MKC; then MCI) was an effective, efficient, and productive hub for transit between Braniff's northern and southern destinations. For many years, up until bankruptcy in 1982, it was Braniff's second busiest station, behind Dallas/Fort Worth (DAL; then DFW).

With the current airlines in the United States, MCI just doesn't fit it to hub requirements, considering established hubs that presently exist in the same general vicinity of the country--ORD, MSP, DEN, DFW, etc.

Keep in mind a hub is an expensive operation to run and maintain; even more so to get up and running, so in the current environment, few companies are going to attempt to establish a new hub at Kansas City unless certain of its viability. And I do agree that the current terminal arrangement is not conducive to a hub operation.

e38
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 7:20 pm

The new terminal will not generate any new traffic. I would actually be worried increased costs will reduce southwest flying. MCI is pretty Well served for a spoke, I wouldn't raise costs a ton and risk that. Southwest has Denver they are not going to launch a giant hub much more than they have now.

The problem is the airport manager or someone in his office said directly that the new terminal is what airlines want to launch a hub or service to Europe or Asia, that there terminal is out or date. It is out of date but a new flashy terminal and higher fees won't landa hub or long haul international route. Their job is to promote the new terminal but that is basically a lie to the public. I see a WOW or icelandair or Norweigan starting MCI but they don't care about a terminal at all, they want it cheap.
 
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stl07
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 7:43 pm

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
The new terminal will not generate any new traffic. I would actually be worried increased costs will reduce southwest flying. MCI is pretty Well served for a spoke, I wouldn't raise costs a ton and risk that. Southwest has Denver they are not going to launch a giant hub much more than they have now.

The problem is the airport manager or someone in his office said directly that the new terminal is what airlines want to launch a hub or service to Europe or Asia, that there terminal is out or date. It is out of date but a new flashy terminal and higher fees won't landa hub or long haul international route. Their job is to promote the new terminal but that is basically a lie to the public. I see a WOW or icelandair or Norweigan starting MCI but they don't care about a terminal at all, they want it cheap.

FI is starting soon at MCI. WN has said that connections would be much easier at MCI and they would probably add some connecting flights but yes, its a lie that WN will move from DEN or STL to MCI like many people in KC have been saying.
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blhp68
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 7:52 pm

As an MCI resident, I am excited for the new terminal and fortunate for the service we have today. As most pointed out, small economy is probably the largest contributing factor
 
EvanWSFO
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 8:00 pm

stl07 wrote:
EvanWSFO wrote:
stl07 wrote:
Tell that to BOS, they still don't have a major international hub airline.


Say what? They may not have a dominant U.S. hub to Europe, but they have 30 international carriers, if my math is correct...it's close to that number. That's an international airport.

And when did I dispute that?


When you said this:

Tell that to BOS, they still don't have a major international hub airline
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stl07
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 8:06 pm

EvanWSFO wrote:
stl07 wrote:
EvanWSFO wrote:

Say what? They may not have a dominant U.S. hub to Europe, but they have 30 international carriers, if my math is correct...it's close to that number. That's an international airport.

And when did I dispute that?


When you said this:

Tell that to BOS, they still don't have a major international hub airline

so how is saying that Boston doesn't have a major international hub airline disputing the fact that they are a major international airport? This thread is about hubs, not destinations. If airlines and destinations made a place a hub, then even MCI would be considered a hub in that definition since they have flights to almost every large us destination
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EvanWSFO
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 8:39 pm

stl07 wrote:
EvanWSFO wrote:
stl07 wrote:
And when did I dispute that?


When you said this:

Tell that to BOS, they still don't have a major international hub airline

so how is saying that Boston doesn't have a major international hub airline disputing the fact that they are a major international airport? This thread is about hubs, not destinations. If airlines and destinations made a place a hub, then even MCI would be considered a hub in that definition since they have flights to almost every large us destination


Technically, BOS is an international hub for B6. Quite a few flights to the Caribbean, and sooner or later into Europe. Regardless, Boston IS an international hub, just not for a single carrier. Your interpretation and mine are different. Have a good day.
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LovePrunesAnet
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 9:05 pm

lots of good comments about the obsolete terminal design of MCI. Big hub terminals can take 5-10 years from concept to ribbon cutting. and the timing for MCI was just unfortunate.
Security checkpoints were a huge change. Other than terminal remodeling, there are a limited number of hub airport new terminals that have opened since 9/11 and the creation of TSA that have actually been designed with the enhanced security baked into the original design.

Some of the terminal concepts actually got built, but the "out there" ones like MCI and DFW haven't worked as originally designed and practices and needs of the airlines changed. Dulles moon buggies are another example of a noble but obsolete design. Everyone was supposed to board at once in one trip on the moon buggy "Plane Mate" from the gate area straight to the aircraft door. What about late arrivals, you ask? Exactly. MCI and DFW were going to be great because upon your return to Dallas or Kansas City, your car would be waiting just 25 steps from your gate where you parked it when you left town. Of course this didn't account for connections between terminals and how to get back to where you left, etc. Just a concept that didn't last due to changes in the industry practices. Remember those *GIANT* Las Vegas-sized electronic signs at DFW in the center roadway to tell you what gate to drop someone off? That was all because it was never intended to be a connecting airport like it became. Fortunately DFW had the real estate to adapt but MCI didn't. DFW widened hallways and buit several versions of people movers to make their terminal design work. Their Texas sized real estate also meant they built the access road down the center of the airport with terminals on both sides. MCI is in a small loop like a 4 leaf clover. (DFW was planned to eventually have 13 different identical terminals at maximum build out). Something like this couldn't be done at MCI
DFW original plans:
https://twitter.com/dfwairport/status/5 ... 01?lang=en
https://imgur.com/4g1AK

But another HUGE factor that doomed MCI was aircraft performance & capabilities of the fleet the airlines had back then vs. later in the 80s/90s and today. Other than LAX, SFO LAS and SEA in the West to places like BOS, NYC, PHL and *MAYBE* ATL in the East , there were few transcon routes. Now we have transcons or almost transcons from most top 25 airports and they don't NEED to stop halfway across the continent in Kansas City.

Back when MCI opened, this wasn't the case. You pretty much HAD to connect somewhere to get from most airports, and the route networks were much smaller. Way more aircraft are in the fleets now with much longer ranges. May not be the most comfortable, but MCI just isn't needed anymore. It was a perfect storm that killed MCI. Terminal design, security events, airline consolidation, and aircraft changes/fleet mix all mean that MCI won't be filling the role of a hub even with a new terminal.

route maps from 1972 era when MCI opened: UA, Continental, Eastern, DL, AA, TWA, Branniff and National...and you'll see what I'm talking about.
http://www.departedflights.com/CO103171.html
http://www.departedflights.com/DL030173.html
http://www.departedflights.com/EA090672.html
http://www.departedflights.com/TW043072.html
http://www.departedflights.com/UA060172.html
http://www.departedflights.com/AA042973.html
http://www.departedflights.com/BN102774.html
http://www.departedflights.com/NA070174.html
 
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OzarkD9S
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 9:21 pm

stl07 wrote:

Has MCI really failed as a hub? They have a pretty big WN operation, something that similar cities like IND and PIT would kill for.



It has failed, yet it hasn't. Much like STL it failed as a legacy hub with Connection/Express feeding the big mainline banks. MCI and more so STL have succeeded as a WN style connection point. The evolution of the hub system killed the legacy hubs in several mid-sized metro areas. Yet STL, BNA and to a smaller extent MCI still benefit from WN's way of doing things. The new terminal at MCI will bolster KC's "hub" position somewhat via WN, but if the costs for the new terminal are too high, you won't see tons of growth from WN, they're already well entrenched with close by connecting centers.
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Which are the children of an idle brain." -Mercutio
 
Cody
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 10:15 pm

In Eastern's case, I am not sure MCI failed as a hub, but rather Eastern was trying to shrink its way into profitablity. Combine that with the fact that it would also be a good union scare-tactic. Give in or we will shrink, shrink, shrink you put of a job.
 
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N717TW
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 10:38 pm

flyPIT wrote:
Many comments about MCI having a great location. Personally I think it is a pretty horrible location for a hub. Most of the population in the US is along the east coast and along the west coast. MCI is useless to serve as a hub for transfer traffic within those regions. That's probably 2/3 of the traffic in the US, if not more. Sure, IND, MEM, PIT, CLE, etc are no longer hubs today. But they were successful growing hubs for decades at a time MCI never made it airline after airline. So I think there is more to it than MCI's poor layout.

Sure, MCI is in a good location for transfer traffic between the east and west. But with few exceptions, all major east coast markets have nonstop service with all major west coast markets, and vice versa. Look at JetBlue for example. They have a tremendous amount of nonstop trans-cons for an airline their size. That's why they don't need a mid-con hub, contrary to the belief of many A.netters.

The few mid-con hubs that do survive such as ORD/MDW, MSP, DFW, and IAH are simply very large O&D markets so they support the hubs they have.


I believe this is the real reason why KC hasn't had an effective working hub since deregulation. Its geographically in the middle as others have pointed out but its really not in the middle of major traffic flows. Combine terrible facilities for connecting (the physical plant seemed fine when I was there) and larger O&D in other cities and you don't really have a compelling reason for it to be a hub. Maybe in the regulated CAB world of 13 different trunk lines it did. Outside of maybe B6 there isn't an airline for whom diluting their mid-con hubs (ORD/MDW/MSP/HOU/IAH) and creating a new hub makes sense. I guess theif would be WN and even then they are probably more likely to go with STL than MCI. (and yes I believe in my heart of hearts that WN has hubs)
 
rbavfan
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 11:13 pm

FA9295 wrote:
Never traveled through MCI before, so I can't say much about the airport's facilities... The proximity of MCI and STL to ORD make for an unrealistic hub operation, not to mention that I think American Airlines actually had a small hub at STL at one point, which failed...


TWA had a hub that Amaerican took over and promised not to ditch. Then they ditched it as it took traffic away from the all important AA Chicago hub. It did not fail on it's own, AA cut it back so it would fail !
 
rbavfan
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 11:16 pm

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
The new terminal will not generate any new traffic. I would actually be worried increased costs will reduce southwest flying. MCI is pretty Well served for a spoke, I wouldn't raise costs a ton and risk that. Southwest has Denver they are not going to launch a giant hub much more than they have now.

The problem is the airport manager or someone in his office said directly that the new terminal is what airlines want to launch a hub or service to Europe or Asia, that there terminal is out or date. It is out of date but a new flashy terminal and higher fees won't landa hub or long haul international route. Their job is to promote the new terminal but that is basically a lie to the public. I see a WOW or icelandair or Norweigan starting MCI but they don't care about a terminal at all, they want it cheap.


Southwest has multiple hubs around the country, they just refuse to call them hubs. Southwest also has been the one pushing for the new MCI terminal. Noting it's design prevents them form expanding farther. So why would the new terminal hurt Southwest? After all they have wanted the new terminal for years.
 
rbavfan
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sat May 05, 2018 11:21 pm

LovePrunesAnet wrote:
lots of good comments about the obsolete terminal design of MCI. Big hub terminals can take 5-10 years from concept to ribbon cutting. and the timing for MCI was just unfortunate.
Security checkpoints were a huge change. Other than terminal remodeling, there are a limited number of hub airport new terminals that have opened since 9/11 and the creation of TSA that have actually been designed with the enhanced security baked into the original design.

Some of the terminal concepts actually got built, but the "out there" ones like MCI and DFW haven't worked as originally designed and practices and needs of the airlines changed. Dulles moon buggies are another example of a noble but obsolete design. Everyone was supposed to board at once in one trip on the moon buggy "Plane Mate" from the gate area straight to the aircraft door. What about late arrivals, you ask? Exactly. MCI and DFW were going to be great because upon your return to Dallas or Kansas City, your car would be waiting just 25 steps from your gate where you parked it when you left town. Of course this didn't account for connections between terminals and how to get back to where you left, etc. Just a concept that didn't last due to changes in the industry practices. Remember those *GIANT* Las Vegas-sized electronic signs at DFW in the center roadway to tell you what gate to drop someone off? That was all because it was never intended to be a connecting airport like it became. Fortunately DFW had the real estate to adapt but MCI didn't. DFW widened hallways and buit several versions of people movers to make their terminal design work. Their Texas sized real estate also meant they built the access road down the center of the airport with terminals on both sides. MCI is in a small loop like a 4 leaf clover. (DFW was planned to eventually have 13 different identical terminals at maximum build out). Something like this couldn't be done at MCI
DFW original plans:
https://twitter.com/dfwairport/status/5 ... 01?lang=en
https://imgur.com/4g1AK

But another HUGE factor that doomed MCI was aircraft performance & capabilities of the fleet the airlines had back then vs. later in the 80s/90s and today. Other than LAX, SFO LAS and SEA in the West to places like BOS, NYC, PHL and *MAYBE* ATL in the East , there were few transcon routes. Now we have transcons or almost transcons from most top 25 airports and they don't NEED to stop halfway across the continent in Kansas City.

Back when MCI opened, this wasn't the case. You pretty much HAD to connect somewhere to get from most airports, and the route networks were much smaller. Way more aircraft are in the fleets now with much longer ranges. May not be the most comfortable, but MCI just isn't needed anymore. It was a perfect storm that killed MCI. Terminal design, security events, airline consolidation, and aircraft changes/fleet mix all mean that MCI won't be filling the role of a hub even with a new terminal.

route maps from 1972 era when MCI opened: UA, Continental, Eastern, DL, AA, TWA, Branniff and National...and you'll see what I'm talking about.
http://www.departedflights.com/CO103171.html
http://www.departedflights.com/DL030173.html
http://www.departedflights.com/EA090672.html
http://www.departedflights.com/TW043072.html
http://www.departedflights.com/UA060172.html
http://www.departedflights.com/AA042973.html
http://www.departedflights.com/BN102774.html
http://www.departedflights.com/NA070174.html


Late arrivals miss their flights at any airport gate. the "Moon Buggy's at IAD leaving the gate is the same as the airline closing the door at a jetway gate. Your late, you knew when it left. To bad, so Sad for them.
 
c933103
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 12:04 am

Survival of the fittest, other hubs connect passengers better
When no other countries around the world is going to militarily stop China and its subordinate fom abusing its citizens within its national boundary, it is unreasonable to expect those abuse can be countered with purely peaceful means.
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 12:55 am

rbavfan wrote:
slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
The new terminal will not generate any new traffic. I would actually be worried increased costs will reduce southwest flying. MCI is pretty Well served for a spoke, I wouldn't raise costs a ton and risk that. Southwest has Denver they are not going to launch a giant hub much more than they have now.

The problem is the airport manager or someone in his office said directly that the new terminal is what airlines want to launch a hub or service to Europe or Asia, that there terminal is out or date. It is out of date but a new flashy terminal and higher fees as won't landa hub or long haul international route. Their job is to promote the new terminal but that is basically a lie to the public. I see a WOW or icelandair or Norweigan starting MCI but they don't care about a terminal at all, they want it cheap.


Southwest has multiple hubs around the country, they just refuse to call them hubs. Southwest also has been the one pushing for the new MCI terminal. Noting it's design prevents them form expanding farther. So why would the new terminal hurt Southwest? After all they have wanted the new terminal for years.


Higher costs will not help southwest. MCI is an overflow transfer point for them. Smack in between DEN and STL it's a blessing they offer the serve they do, I'm just saying you want to keep costs down.

MCI serves the same traffic flows that DEN and STL do. WN wants to grow Denver and plans are in place for more gates for them. Southwest has worked very hard for more Denver. Denver will be a true full blown hub for southwest when they get the expansion and it is already. I think southwest already connects more thru Denver than any other city. It's the least dependent on O&D. Not the best thing for MCI that they will grow Denver more, they certainly won't add more to MCI for connections.

The airport saying airlines like southwest agree it would improve the airport is one thing. This plan is in no way for southwest. Southwest didn't go to them and asked for this by any means. If costs balloon which is not uncommon airlines like southwest will look to connect more people in DEN and STL that is all I am saying. DEN is WNs future for connections, MCI is just a spoke.
 
wave46
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 1:17 am

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:

The airport saying airlines like southwest agree it would improve the airport is one thing. This plan is in no way for southwest. Southwest didn't go to them and asked for this by any means. If costs balloon which is not uncommon airlines like southwest will look to connect more people in DEN and STL that is all I am saying. DEN is WNs future for connections, MCI is just a spoke.


http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article111072082.html

"Southwest Airlines urges business community to get on board for KCI single terminal"

Sounds like Southwest is one of the biggest proponents of a new Kansas City terminal to me. I'd imagine they feel that the existing terminal limits their expansion possibilities, the cost per enplanement might go up, but if the number of enplanements increases to cover the debt, it may be a net benefit for them.

Southwest isn't Allegiant. They'll spend money if they see the value in it. The will aim for low overall costs, but not rock bottom fares at all costs.
 
Jshank83
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 4:59 am

wave46 wrote:

Sounds like Southwest is one of the biggest proponents of a new Kansas City terminal to me. I'd imagine they feel that the existing terminal limits their expansion possibilities,


They have come out publicly and said the current terminal has caused them to quit expanding "connecting opportunities".
 
airfrnt
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 5:10 am

MCI had a shot at being what DEN is today - unfortunately the design of the airport was just wrong, and rather then fixing it when TWA sued the city and the airport (which, to be fair to the CITY was the design that TWA demanded)t, they doubled down on the design. Beyond just the security constraints, the old airport had extreme trouble getting bags to transfer between gates. The new terminal design is a much needed improvement, but DEN is adding more gates then the new airport will have in total, and the best case scenario is that it manages to siphon a bit of traffic between DEN and ATL.
 
soflaflyer
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 6:05 am

LovePrunesAnet wrote:


Thanks for putting this together. This is very educational, especially for someone who didn't start following the industry until the late 80's. Really illustrates how networks have changed. Today we are accustomed to airlines trying to be everything to everyone and that wasn't the case back then. EA was definitely a force, I knew them when they were in their decline. AA didn't even fly anywhere close to MIA. Many more interesting observations that could be made.
 
fly4ever78
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 8:01 am

The runway layout is great, but the terminals are HORRENDOUS. And it's the airport authorities fault! They have intentionally not developed or changed the gate area layout in decades. There is literally NOTHING past each security checkpoint. Even in the main terminal there is close to nothing. They could have done several things with this airport, but they just didn't. Maybe in 20 years they will address the ridiculous lack of facilities? Or not.
 
chidino
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 9:07 am

IIRC, MCI was pretty much built to the vision of TWA's marketing department, which was pushing this concept of 'drive to your gate' or some such (I don't have the marketing stuff -- I'm more an airport history guy) and the new MCI was built pretty much to TWA's fiddle: I think they managed to get it to 68' from curbside to airside. Whatever it was, the hijackings of the early 70's meant the first security, and MCI couldn't even handle that: TWA demanded a rebuilding, Kansas City had built it to their specs and thought TWA was nuts, and TWA up and moved to St. Louis.

Funny, while TWA marketing was screwing KC, the execs were signing deals for widebodies; yeah, you can park one, but where do you put 400 waiting pax?
 
afcjets
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 9:02 pm

e38 wrote:
Quoting olddominion727 (thread starter), " . . . BN tried, no-go, . . ." Well, that's not exactly true.

and afcjets, "BN did not last for long . . ." Ummm, yes, they did.

For the original Braniff International Airways (BN), Kansas City (MKC; then MCI) was an effective, efficient, and productive hub for transit between Braniff's northern and southern destinations. For many years, up until bankruptcy in 1982, it was Braniff's second busiest station, behind Dallas/Fort Worth (DAL; then DFW).



I was referring to the second Braniff not the original. I never even knew the orginal Braniff even considered MCI a hub and looking at their schedule, I know why. From MCI they only flew to DFW, IAH, ORD, DTW, ICT, MSP, DSM, OKC, TUL, OMA, all in the central time zone.
 
doulasc
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 10:48 pm

TWA had a hub at MCI in addition to STL.TWA consolodated at STL and downsize their operations at MCI and ORD.
 
AirFiero
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Sun May 06, 2018 11:03 pm

Didn’t DFW originally have thinner terminals, and they “built out” along the circumference to enlarge the terminals? I know SJC created “Pop outs” in the middle of terminal A to make room for expanded security post 9/11, without losing space for services. Why couldn’t that have been done at MCI? There appears to be plenty of room, outward from the terminals.
 
e38
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 1:31 am

Quoting afcjets (Reply 73), "I was referring to the second Braniff not the original. I never even knew the orginal Braniff even considered MCI a hub and looking at their schedule, I know why. From MCI they only flew to DFW, IAH, ORD, DTW, ICT, MSP, DSM, OKC, TUL, OMA, all in the central time zone."

Well, you didn't specify the second Braniff. Many folks, when you refer to Braniff, consider the original airline--the one that lasted 51 years, from 1931 until 1982, not the follow-on airline that lasted, what, about 5 years or so?

I don't believe DTW is in the central time zone, not that time zone designation defines a hub operation. During the 1960s and 1970s, most of Braniff's network was aligned in a north-south orientation anyway. That doesn't diminish the fact that Kansas City was an important station in Braniff's network; perhaps not a hub as we think of today, but nevertheless, an important transit point in their operation. In the mid 1960s, Braniff operated 12 or 13 weekday flights between Kansas City and Dallas; 12 flights between Kansas City and Minneapolis; 8 flights between Kansas City and Chicago--that was a lot in those days.

So, yes, in the 1960s, 1970s, up until 1982, Kansas City was an important station in Braniff's operation, and it was successful.

e38
 
EvanWSFO
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 1:45 am

rbavfan wrote:
FA9295 wrote:
Never traveled through MCI before, so I can't say much about the airport's facilities... The proximity of MCI and STL to ORD make for an unrealistic hub operation, not to mention that I think American Airlines actually had a small hub at STL at one point, which failed...


TWA had a hub that Amaerican took over and promised not to ditch. Then they ditched it as it took traffic away from the all important AA Chicago hub. It did not fail on it's own, AA cut it back so it would fail !


Pretty much every airline that has taken over another says this. They do it to get approval and try to appease the affected cities. Then they yank the hubs deemed redundant. It shouldn't surprise anyone.
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knope2001
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 1:54 am

I've mentioned some of these in previous discussions over the years but they seem appropriate to repeat here.

The terminal design shortcomings did not sink KCI's chances as hosting a hub
--In the hub-building days of the 80's many hub carriers had gates in separate secured areas. Had a hub flourished at KCI actions would have been taken to lessen the issue, similar to what was done at other airports in those years.
--Prior to 9/11 re-clearing security was more a mild annoyance than a major time-killing hassle
--The 20-ish jetways KCI had per terminal were ample for the size of many hubs in the 80's, especially when noting that many hubs ran scores out regional prop flights out of a gate or two.

Kansas City is not in the "perfect" geographic place for connecting hub
--Although Kansas City appears in the center of the country on the standard Mercator Projection map land area does not travel -- people do.
--Kansas City is just on the western fringe of population where density trails off from modest to downright thin.
--Even for transcon connections KCI is not anything special in part because the earth is curved, not flat like a map. If you plot the air routes connecting the three most populous areas in the east (NYC, WAS, BOS) and the three most populous areas in the west (LA, SFO, SEA) they converge best around Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland. Kansas City isn't bad for transcon connections but location isn't the obvious advantage over other rivals in the middle of the country some think it is.

Kansas City's local market is on the small side
There's truth to this often-cited reason. It's not that no similar or smaller market supported a successful hub in the 80's / 90's, of course. But a lot of the hubs which didn't make it past the early/mid 90's were in fairly similar markets.

Kansas City's most underrated handicap was not having substantial feeder markets they "owned" for high-quality connecting traffic
Especially in the peak hub era (roughly 1980-2005) hub made money on (1) local O+D with high hub-premium fares and (2) high-fare connecting traffic from regional airports in the natural service area. Hubs made money on $300 business-traveler one-way fares from Lansing to New York, not on $109 one-way fares from LA to New York. But to get much of that high-fare business traffic at local spoke cities your hub had to be #1 or a strong #2 to be the airline of choice. There are tons of decent spoke airports across the eastern 40% of the country and most of them were aligned with one or two hubs that got the lion's share of business, and everybody else was an also-ran. Kansas City has very few substantial candidates within that 250-ish mile range where Kansas City would be the obvious hub to connect to. And even at the few which do exist the traffic at those airports was generally served by frequent lights to big hubs, leaving Kansas City an also-ran hub at just about every spoke it served except perhaps Wichita. With mediocre local traffic and not enough high-fare business feed from the region they had to fill too many seats with junky connections in markets where fare was their only selling point.

Had chips fallen differently Kansas City might have had a stable hub which defied the odds like Memphis for several years but odds are pretty steep it would have been something like MSP. Had somebody run a stable decades-long hub it's likely Southwest would have been minimal or even absent from KCI. In some ways having Southwest (mostly) continue to build Kansas City over the past 30 years is a better outcome than being a de-hubbed late add to the Southwest system like MEM or CVG. Having up to 80/day Southwest flights is something dozens of moderate-sized airports are envious of.
 
777PHX
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 1:57 am

rbavfan wrote:
FA9295 wrote:
Never traveled through MCI before, so I can't say much about the airport's facilities... The proximity of MCI and STL to ORD make for an unrealistic hub operation, not to mention that I think American Airlines actually had a small hub at STL at one point, which failed...


TWA had a hub that Amaerican took over and promised not to ditch. Then they ditched it as it took traffic away from the all important AA Chicago hub. It did not fail on it's own, AA cut it back so it would fail !


The original plan was for STL to be a reliever hub for ORD as the weather is milder in STL and they had plenty of space. Then a little event known as 9/11 happened not too long after the acquisition consummated and STL was low hanging fruit to cut towards the end of 2003. AA still had 15-16 destinations on mainline as recently as 2009 or so before they made the final drastic cut and removed STL's status as a hub.

People in STL seem to think they got screwed, but if there were money to be made in STL, AA would still be there. They should be thrilled with the level of service they have now from WN. You can get to almost any large city direct on WN.
 
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knope2001
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 2:11 am

afcjets wrote:
e38 wrote:
Quoting olddominion727 (thread starter), " . . . BN tried, no-go, . . ." Well, that's not exactly true.

and afcjets, "BN did not last for long . . ." Ummm, yes, they did.

For the original Braniff International Airways (BN), Kansas City (MKC; then MCI) was an effective, efficient, and productive hub for transit between Braniff's northern and southern destinations. For many years, up until bankruptcy in 1982, it was Braniff's second busiest station, behind Dallas/Fort Worth (DAL; then DFW).



I was referring to the second Braniff not the original. I never even knew the orginal Braniff even considered MCI a hub and looking at their schedule, I know why. From MCI they only flew to DFW, IAH, ORD, DTW, ICT, MSP, DSM, OKC, TUL, OMA, all in the central time zone.



The original Braniff ran a busy north-south station at Kansas City for year but more as an intermediate stop than a connecting point, although some connections certainly happened. But shortly after deregulation Braniff built an omni-directional hub at KCI with new flights to places like BOS, PHL, PIT, IAD, ATL, MKE, SAT, SEA, DEN, STL. It was pretty much all drawn down within two years, however. I don't have access to my BN timetables at the moment but here is a snapshot from stuff over at departedflights.com.

April 75
39 flights to 11 destinations
October 79
60 flights to 21 destinations (peak or very close to peak)
April 81
29 flights to 11 destinations
 
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knope2001
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 11:27 am

One other point of clarification. There's a notion that TWA moved their hub from MCI to STL in the 70's. That''s not really how things played out. TWA was for many years substantially larger in STL than at MCI. St Louis definitely was built into the big hub while flights at Kansas City slowly shunk over the years, but the growth at STL really came by downsizing O'Hare, not Kansas City.

Without ready access to my own stuff at the moment I pulled some info from departedflights.com

April 72
ORD
107 flights to 22 cities
STL
75 flights to 26 cities
MCI
46 lights to 17 cities (nearly 30% of MCI flights went to STL)

October 77
ORD
103 flights to 24 cities
STL
89 flights to 35 cities
MCI
42 flights to 13 cities

January 81
ORD
66 flights to 24 cities
STL
93 flights to 36 cities
MCI
37 flights to 17 cities

July 83
ORD
29 flights to 12 cities
STL
179 flights to 48 cities
MCI
21 flights to 10 cities

Certainly TWA's service at KCI was slowly chipped away at over the years but there's a sense from some that MCI hosted a big TWA hub which was shut down and moved to STL. If there was a big hub closed down and moved to STL it was O'Hare. Well after TW built up STL they still operated a handful of point-to-point nonstops at Kansas City.
 
Jshank83
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 2:25 pm

777PHX wrote:

People in STL seem to think they got screwed, but if there were money to be made in STL, AA would still be there. They should be thrilled with the level of service they have now from WN. You can get to almost any large city direct on WN.


Agree with this. People here (STL) who don't really follow things closely, act like service is horrible now since we don't have the AA hub. Yes, it has half the passengers that it did in 2000, but in the last 5 years things got a lot better. Just because Southwest doesn't use the term "hub", I think people just aren't informed. I rarely have a layover to go anywhere now unless it is someplace like Reno or Albany. We have better domestic service than most airports our size, especially to the west coast. There aren't many more places that even make sense for us to get a flight. Really the only downside at the moment is lack of TATL flights but it wasn't like STL had tons of them when they were a hub in the first place. I'm not going to lose sleep about not having a flight to Springfield, MO or all those short feeder routes we used to have that no one from here probably took very often anyway.
 
Antarius
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 2:47 pm

But another HUGE factor that doomed MCI was aircraft performance & capabilities of the fleet the airlines had back then vs. later in the 80s/90s and today. Other than LAX, SFO LAS and SEA in the West to places like BOS, NYC, PHL and *MAYBE* ATL in the East , there were few transcon routes. Now we have transcons or almost transcons from most top 25 airports and they don't NEED to stop halfway across the continent in Kansas City.


This is a huge huge reason. Terminals are fixable, but like other midcon hubs with limited O&D, they are obsolete by concept now - just fly over them nonstop
2019: SIN HKG NRT DFW IAH HOU CLT LGA JFK SFO SJC EWR SNA EYW MIA BOG LAX ORD DTW OAK PVG BOS DCA IAD ATL LAS BIS CUN PHX OAK SYD CVG PHL MAD ORY CDG SLC SJU BQN MHT YYZ STS BIS DOH BLR KTM MFM MEX MSY BWI DEN
 
blockski
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 3:04 pm

777PHX wrote:
People in STL seem to think they got screwed, but if there were money to be made in STL, AA would still be there. They should be thrilled with the level of service they have now from WN. You can get to almost any large city direct on WN.


This is true, but you still can't blame people in STL for thinking they got screwed. Hosting a hub brings benefits that extend beyond the level of O&D traffic. STL lost a ton of non-stop destinations when AA pulled down the hub, and that's not helpful for the business community in STL.

That said, it's telling that Lambert peaked at about 30.5 million passengers in 2000; of which TWA said 70% were connecting. Lambert bottomed out in 2010 and 2014 at 12.3 million, which is about 40% of TWA's peak - the mostly O&D base that the region has...
 
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Revelation
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 3:08 pm

zrs70 wrote:
If I need to travel across the country, I would rather take a short flight and a long flight than two medium flights.

That was the role PIT was designed to serve. It was supposed to be a place where all US Airlines flights from the Northeast converged, then fanned out to West Coast and Midwest and Southern destinations. We all know it failed, for many reasons.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
Flighty
Posts: 9963
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 4:01 pm

Let me offer an unusual explanation for the re-distribution of business traffic over time. New businesses need to be created in order to have a vibrant business community over time. Otherwise you are just running on fumes of what you have. (which can last a long time).

Generally, young people are the ones who create new corporations. That activity has changed location in the past 100 years. 80-100 years ago, Buffalo NY, Pittsburgh, St Louis, Detroit had vibrant new business growth. Kind of like Austin, Dallas, Denver, Santa Clara, LA, Boston, DC area, NY do today. I am a believer that business creation is all about go-getter young people and where they decide to conglomerate. You need the young go-getters to stay in your community if you want to have actual business growth.
 
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flyPIT
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 5:05 pm

Revelation wrote:
zrs70 wrote:
If I need to travel across the country, I would rather take a short flight and a long flight than two medium flights.

That was the role PIT was designed to serve. It was supposed to be a place where all US Airlines flights from the Northeast converged, then fanned out to West Coast and Midwest and Southern destinations. We all know it failed, for many reasons.

It failed as a hub for many reasons as you said, but not for the reason mentioned here. In fact, PIT was a larger TWA hub than MCI ever was. As far as AL/US, it was in fact a place where “flights from the Northeast converged, then fanned out to West Coast and Midwest and Southern destinations.” PIT played that roll successfully for decades.
FLYi
 
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Revelation
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 5:49 pm

flyPIT wrote:
Revelation wrote:
zrs70 wrote:
If I need to travel across the country, I would rather take a short flight and a long flight than two medium flights.

That was the role PIT was designed to serve. It was supposed to be a place where all US Airlines flights from the Northeast converged, then fanned out to West Coast and Midwest and Southern destinations. We all know it failed, for many reasons.

It failed as a hub for many reasons as you said, but not for the reason mentioned here. In fact, PIT was a larger TWA hub than MCI ever was. As far as AL/US, it was in fact a place where “flights from the Northeast converged, then fanned out to West Coast and Midwest and Southern destinations.” PIT played that roll successfully for decades.

Yes, I didn't mean to imply PIT failed for the same reason as MCI.

I was just saying that the idea of having a hub that connected shorter legs to longer legs as per zrs70's statement had been tried before and IMHO didn't seem to make a difference versus a mid-continent hub.

PIT did work well for decades, and back in the day PIT had decent O/D and prospects for more in the future, but it didn't play out that way.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
twicearound
Posts: 137
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 6:54 pm

EvanWSFO wrote:
stl07 wrote:
EvanWSFO wrote:

When you said this:

Tell that to BOS, they still don't have a major international hub airline

so how is saying that Boston doesn't have a major international hub airline disputing the fact that they are a major international airport? This thread is about hubs, not destinations. If airlines and destinations made a place a hub, then even MCI would be considered a hub in that definition since they have flights to almost every large us destination


Technically, BOS is an international hub for B6. Quite a few flights to the Caribbean, and sooner or later into Europe. Regardless, Boston IS an international hub, just not for a single carrier. Your interpretation and mine are different. Have a good day.



I think DL would take that title as well, in addition to serving much of the caribbean, they also fly to 4 destinations in Europe CURRENTLY. Quite the nice little hub operation going on over at Terminal A as of lately
 
Antarius
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Re: Why has MCI failed as a hub city?

Mon May 07, 2018 6:59 pm

Revelation wrote:
flyPIT wrote:
Revelation wrote:
That was the role PIT was designed to serve. It was supposed to be a place where all US Airlines flights from the Northeast converged, then fanned out to West Coast and Midwest and Southern destinations. We all know it failed, for many reasons.

It failed as a hub for many reasons as you said, but not for the reason mentioned here. In fact, PIT was a larger TWA hub than MCI ever was. As far as AL/US, it was in fact a place where “flights from the Northeast converged, then fanned out to West Coast and Midwest and Southern destinations.” PIT played that roll successfully for decades.

Yes, I didn't mean to imply PIT failed for the same reason as MCI.

I was just saying that the idea of having a hub that connected shorter legs to longer legs as per zrs70's statement had been tried before and IMHO didn't seem to make a difference versus a mid-continent hub.

PIT did work well for decades, and back in the day PIT had decent O/D and prospects for more in the future, but it didn't play out that way.


Same reason SJU got shuttered as an eagle hub. Aircraft are more efficient and capable of making the non stops economically. Also the domestic widebody ops are barely existant anymore. It's a lot easier to fill a 738 between LAX and several NE cities than it is to fill a DC10, which therefore benefitted from the hub like feed at places like PIT and SJU.
2019: SIN HKG NRT DFW IAH HOU CLT LGA JFK SFO SJC EWR SNA EYW MIA BOG LAX ORD DTW OAK PVG BOS DCA IAD ATL LAS BIS CUN PHX OAK SYD CVG PHL MAD ORY CDG SLC SJU BQN MHT YYZ STS BIS DOH BLR KTM MFM MEX MSY BWI DEN

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