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PacoMartin
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Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:52 am

In the past CLE, PIT and STL were once thriving air hubs and have at one time collapsed.

At present (2017-2018) the 30 Large airports in the US are growing at 4% which is slightly lower than the 5% of commercial traffic growth (measured by number of passengers). The 31 Medium airports and 69 Small airports are growing at almost double the rate (by percentage). Absolute numbers for the growth by 42.7 million passengers favor the larger airports.

24,663,801 Large 4.0% 30
10,892,661 Medium 7.8% 31
5,844,328 Small 8.3% 69
1,351,250 Non 4.6% 265
7,012 Service 1.2% 123
42,759,052 Total 5.0% 518

Percentage growth for the 30 Large Airports follows:
FLL 11.35% (also largest growth in absolute numbers 1,795,288 passengers)
SAN 9.28%
TPA 8.59%
IAH 7.93%
MCO 7.59%
PHL 7.16%
BOS 6.65%
SEA 6.12%
EWR 5.69%
IAD 5.42%
SLC 5.26%
DEN 5.21%
PDX 3.91%
JFK 3.68%
LAX 3.38%
ORD 3.32%
SFO 3.31%
ATL 3.21%
DFW 3.16%
BWI 3.05%
LGA 3.04%
HNL 2.80%
DTW 2.35%
PHX 2.06%
LAS 1.84%
MIA 1.51%
CLT 1.23%
MSP -0.26%
DCA -1.21%
MDW -2.14%

Although three airports shrank slightly, there seems to be no hubs on the verge of collapse.

There are critics. Some financial analysts believe that United should move out of Washington Dulles in favor of Newark since having two hubs only 211 miles apart is counterproductive. But United executives strongly disagree that abandoning the capital is a good idea.

Has the industry matured past the point where airports collapse as hubs?
Last edited by qf789 on Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: changed title for clarity
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Collapsing hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:10 pm

I don't see what the growth rate of FAA-designated Large Hub Airports has to do with your question of hub collapse: they aren't all hubs in the common definition. HNL, PDX, TPA, DCA, SAN, LGA, LAS and BOS are all primarily O&D traffic. CLE, PIT and STL didn't die as hubs due to declining O&D traffic, although O&D may have fallen with cuts to non-stop destinations and frequencies after the hub pull-downs.
 
twicearound
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Re: Collapsing hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:13 pm

You're mixing apples and oranges here. There is a difference between an airline hub vs. an airport hub.
 
MO11
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Re: Collapsing hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:17 pm

Indeed. The term "hub" is broadly used. I always think connecting hub. The DOT, however, rates all airports (with airline service) as large hubs, medium hubs, small hubs, and non-hubs.
 
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SteveXC500
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:24 pm

How did you come up with the MSP decline? According to their own website (mspairport.com), the number of passengers increased from 2017 to 2018. 38,034,341 in 2017 to 38,037,381 in 2018. Albeit very minor, MSP did this with nearly 9,000 fewer operations, indicating a seats/flight increase.
 
blockski
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:43 pm

Hubs don't just 'collapse' absent some broader change in the industry.

CLE - casualty of the UA/CO merger
STL - casualty of TWA's bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by AA.
PIT - casualty of several mergers and bankruptcies
 
ZazuPIT
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:45 pm

Yeah, I'm not seeing a connection here either. As pointed out, not all the 30 busiest airports are "hubs" in the traditional sense, or even the Southwest or ULCC definition.
 
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PacoMartin
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:12 pm

SteveXC500 wrote:
How did you come up with the MSP decline? According to their own website (mspairport.com), the number of passengers increased from 2017 to 2018. 38,034,341 in 2017 to 38,037,381 in 2018. Albeit very minor, MSP did this with nearly 9,000 fewer operations, indicating a seats/flight increase.


The FAA does not use the same metric. They use the number of passengers boarding at the airport
18,409,704 boardings in 2017
18,361,942 boardings in 2018
There was a small declline
 
johns624
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:23 pm

PacoMartin wrote:

Although three airports shrank slightly, there seems to be no hubs on the verge of collapse.

Has the industry matured past the point where airports collapse as hubs?
You keep contradicting yourself. Your title implies US hubs are collapsing, then you say that no hubs are on the verge of collapsing. Then you ask if the industry is matured past the point of hubs collapsing.
Just because larger airports aren't growing as fast as smaller ones doesn't mean any are failing.
 
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SteveXC500
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:27 pm

PacoMartin wrote:
SteveXC500 wrote:
How did you come up with the MSP decline? According to their own website (mspairport.com), the number of passengers increased from 2017 to 2018. 38,034,341 in 2017 to 38,037,381 in 2018. Albeit very minor, MSP did this with nearly 9,000 fewer operations, indicating a seats/flight increase.


The FAA does not use the same metric. They use the number of passengers boarding at the airport
18,409,704 boardings in 2017
18,361,942 boardings in 2018
There was a small declline


What are the deplaning figures like (destination)? Does this explain the difference if they are greater? I think you have to use passenger handle (in and out) to paint the entire picture.
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:34 pm

Short of another major economic shift ie like the rustbelt factories closing, i think existing hubs are pretty much set at this point. Places that work have lasted thru trial and error and downtrurns etc. I don't think we are going to see much of any shift in USA domestic hub setups. Places that failed would fail again, places that work will continue to work for someone even if their current carrier leaves. I dont think think we will see much of a shift in anything related to hubs. Airlines will do focus cities for high growth areas, true connection hubs are set
 
COSPN
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:43 pm

EWR has many operational problems IAD has room to grow once the Washington Metro makes its way out to IAD it will become a “reasonable “ alternative to DCA and BWI
 
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Revelation
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:44 pm

blockski wrote:
Hubs don't just 'collapse' absent some broader change in the industry.

CLE - casualty of the UA/CO merger
STL - casualty of TWA's bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by AA.
PIT - casualty of several mergers and bankruptcies

This thread is a spin-off of another where it was mentioned that the increasing range of narrow bodies such as A320 and 737NG caused some hubs to collapse.

I think that is a decent theory, but as you point out, accelerated by industry consolidation.

I for one did a bunch of traveling in the glory days of PIT in the 90s.

It was viewed as US Air's fortress hub, and a great strategic move for them.

It was served by TONS of relatively short ranged planes such as F28/F100, early DC9, early 737, etc.

Thicker routes with more pax were served by 757.

I remember several trips similar to MHT-PIT-SAN/SJC/TPA as needed.

First leg pretty much any aircraft type US flew, then second leg almost always on 757.

I think it was the combination of longer ranged narrowbodies and industry consolidation that killed PIT.

The real sign of the end was when US chose to move most services to PHL despite PHL's notorious smaller size and weather related delays which were an impediment to PHL becoming a major airport.

Now US merged with AA and PHL is a major element in their network, one that some may call a hub.
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PacoMartin
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:45 pm

MO11 wrote:
Indeed. The term "hub" is broadly used. I always think connecting hub. The DOT, however, rates all airports (with airline service) as large hubs, medium hubs, small hubs, and non-hubs.


I am aware that the FAA terms any airport with more than 1% of the total commercial traffic a "Large Hub" without making the distinction of what kind of traffic is at the airport. Certainly DCA does not fit the conventional definition of a hub, while nor does Orlando, Honolulu or Vegas.

Southwest does not call Midway a "hub", instead referring to it as an operating base, but as far as I am concerned that definition is more for marketing.

I merely listed the top 30 airports and pointed out only 3 were were declining in passengers. I never implied that each one fit the conventional idea of a hub. Out of the top 130 airports only 9 declined in passengers (and three are on islands).

-2.03% FSD Sioux Falls
-5.98% MHT Manchester
-8.27% DAY James M Cox Dayton International
...
-4.05% SJU San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International
-9.87% ITO Hilo International
-13.19% GSN Saipan

Cleveland airport lost 33.6% of its passengers from 2007 to 2014 (equivalent to 5.68% per year) .
Pittsburgh airport lost 43.6% of its passengers from 2003 to 2009 (equivalent to 9.13% per year).

Do you think the industry has matured beyond this kind of collapse? If one airline leaves will it be replaced with another airline?
 
Cubsrule
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:59 pm

PacoMartin wrote:
MO11 wrote:
Indeed. The term "hub" is broadly used. I always think connecting hub. The DOT, however, rates all airports (with airline service) as large hubs, medium hubs, small hubs, and non-hubs.


I am aware that the FAA terms any airport with more than 1% of the total commercial traffic a "Large Hub" without making the distinction of what kind of traffic is at the airport. Certainly DCA does not fit the conventional definition of a hub, while nor does Orlando, Honolulu or Vegas.

Southwest does not call Midway a "hub", instead referring to it as an operating base, but as far as I am concerned that definition is more for marketing.

I merely listed the top 30 airports and pointed out only 3 were were declining in passengers. I never implied that each one fit the conventional idea of a hub. Out of the top 130 airports only 9 declined in passengers (and three are on islands).

-2.03% FSD Sioux Falls
-5.98% MHT Manchester
-8.27% DAY James M Cox Dayton International
...
-4.05% SJU San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International
-9.87% ITO Hilo International
-13.19% GSN Saipan

Cleveland airport lost 33.6% of its passengers from 2007 to 2014 (equivalent to 5.68% per year) .
Pittsburgh airport lost 43.6% of its passengers from 2003 to 2009 (equivalent to 9.13% per year).

Do you think the industry has matured beyond this kind of collapse? If one airline leaves will it be replaced with another airline?


I don't understand the idea of "maturation." PIT died because its costs were out of control and US chose PHL. CLE died because of the CO/UA merger. STL died because of the Great Recession. Indeed, AA said STL was profitable as recently as 2007 or 2008. What "maturation" are we discussing?
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pmanni1
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:04 pm

Cubsrule wrote:
PacoMartin wrote:
MO11 wrote:
Indeed. The term "hub" is broadly used. I always think connecting hub. The DOT, however, rates all airports (with airline service) as large hubs, medium hubs, small hubs, and non-hubs.


I am aware that the FAA terms any airport with more than 1% of the total commercial traffic a "Large Hub" without making the distinction of what kind of traffic is at the airport. Certainly DCA does not fit the conventional definition of a hub, while nor does Orlando, Honolulu or Vegas.

Southwest does not call Midway a "hub", instead referring to it as an operating base, but as far as I am concerned that definition is more for marketing.

I merely listed the top 30 airports and pointed out only 3 were were declining in passengers. I never implied that each one fit the conventional idea of a hub. Out of the top 130 airports only 9 declined in passengers (and three are on islands).

-2.03% FSD Sioux Falls
-5.98% MHT Manchester
-8.27% DAY James M Cox Dayton International
...
-4.05% SJU San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International
-9.87% ITO Hilo International
-13.19% GSN Saipan

Cleveland airport lost 33.6% of its passengers from 2007 to 2014 (equivalent to 5.68% per year) .
Pittsburgh airport lost 43.6% of its passengers from 2003 to 2009 (equivalent to 9.13% per year).

Do you think the industry has matured beyond this kind of collapse? If one airline leaves will it be replaced with another airline?


I don't understand the idea of "maturation." PIT died because its costs were out of control and US chose PHL. CLE died because of the CO/UA merger. STL died because of the Great Recession. Indeed, AA said STL was profitable as recently as 2007 or 2008. What "maturation" are we discussing?

WN saw opportunity at STL but hasn't seen it at PIT or CLE.
 
dcaproducer
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:29 pm

pmanni1 wrote:
Cubsrule wrote:
PacoMartin wrote:

I am aware that the FAA terms any airport with more than 1% of the total commercial traffic a "Large Hub" without making the distinction of what kind of traffic is at the airport. Certainly DCA does not fit the conventional definition of a hub, while nor does Orlando, Honolulu or Vegas.

Southwest does not call Midway a "hub", instead referring to it as an operating base, but as far as I am concerned that definition is more for marketing.

I merely listed the top 30 airports and pointed out only 3 were were declining in passengers. I never implied that each one fit the conventional idea of a hub. Out of the top 130 airports only 9 declined in passengers (and three are on islands).

-2.03% FSD Sioux Falls
-5.98% MHT Manchester
-8.27% DAY James M Cox Dayton International
...
-4.05% SJU San Juan Luis Munoz Marin International
-9.87% ITO Hilo International
-13.19% GSN Saipan

Cleveland airport lost 33.6% of its passengers from 2007 to 2014 (equivalent to 5.68% per year) .
Pittsburgh airport lost 43.6% of its passengers from 2003 to 2009 (equivalent to 9.13% per year).

Do you think the industry has matured beyond this kind of collapse? If one airline leaves will it be replaced with another airline?


I don't understand the idea of "maturation." PIT died because its costs were out of control and US chose PHL. CLE died because of the CO/UA merger. STL died because of the Great Recession. Indeed, AA said STL was profitable as recently as 2007 or 2008. What "maturation" are we discussing?

WN saw opportunity at STL but hasn't seen it at PIT or CLE.


This is correct. If you look at CLE, PIT and CVG, STL has fared better than the others. WN continues to grow their operation and use it as a connecting point.
 
AAtakeMeAway
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:35 pm

PacoMartin wrote:
Do you think the industry has matured beyond this kind of collapse? If one airline leaves will it be replaced with another airline?


I think most people would agree that this is the answer:

slcdeltarumd11 wrote:
Short of another major economic shift ie like the rustbelt factories closing, i think existing hubs are pretty much set at this point. Places that work have lasted thru trial and error and downtrurns etc. I don't think we are going to see much of any shift in USA domestic hub setups. Places that failed would fail again, places that work will continue to work for someone even if their current carrier leaves. I dont think think we will see much of a shift in anything related to hubs. Airlines will do focus cities for high growth areas, true connection hubs are set


To further answer your question with an extreme and unlikely hypothetical example though: If AA were to dehub DFW next year and make DFW just a spoke -- No, I don't believe another airline would replace it. Gates/terminals would be mothballed similar to PIT/CLE/etc.and DFW's traffic would decline significantly. Of course, AA as an airline would also shrink in this example unless they open another hub, which is also quite unlikely.
 
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aemoreira1981
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:43 pm

Vis a vis EWR versus IAD, EWR is largely constrained and more connections should be fed through IAD. Makes sense.

As for PIT, it was high fees that made US Airways decide to pull out and relocate that hub to PHL.
 
dstblj52
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:12 pm

Look most hubs get cut when airliners merger or are forced to react from a merger. IE when delta and northwest merger we saw MEM and CVG cut, so unless we see another round of mergers, and I personally suspect we will see a B6 AS merger, then we will see hubs shift around. Until then, its just light each airline trying to build up what it finds most profitable/optimal, but OD rich hubs generally get built back up while connection based hubs generally don't, unless they have extremely favorable geography.
 
FlyingElvii
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:17 pm

PacoMartin wrote:

There are critics. Some financial analysts believe that United should move out of Washington Dulles in favor of Newark since having two hubs only 211 miles apart is counterproductive. But United executives strongly disagree that abandoning the capital is a good idea.

Has the industry matured past the point where airports collapse as hubs?


Dulles is a long-term investment.
United wants a EWR to be mostly O&D. It is insanely expensive to operate there, and the pass thru fees for connecting pax are very high, especially when compared against Atl, or CLT, which puts United at a competitive disadvantage on connections.

Dulles is where all of the future DC area growth will be going, and transportation options to DC that should have been in place 30 years ago are finally nearing completion. It is much cheaper for flow through. And, it can be brought up, or down, as economic conditions warrant. Don’t underestimate how important that can be.
 
Chuska
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:33 pm

This column does bring back memories of many more cities that were once hubs:

AA at BNA, RDU, and SJC
DL at CVG and MEM (MEM previously NW and even RC-Republic before that). PDX was a small hub with flights across the Pacific.
NW had a mini-hub at BIL
TW at MCI. Also had small hubs at ABQ and PIT at the start of deregulation.
CO at ELP.
US at DAY and SYR (previously PI, and Empire at SYR before that).
HP (America West) at CMH.
YX (Midwest Express) at MKE.
QQ (Reno Air) at RNO.

Some very large commuter hubs also existed in the 1980's and 1990's:
Air Midwest at MCI.
Big Sky at BIL.
CommutAir at ALB.
GP Express at GSO (during the short Continental Lite era of the mid-90's)
Mesa at ABQ.

Please feel free to add to this list!
 
IADCA
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:12 pm

PacoMartin wrote:
MO11 wrote:
Indeed. The term "hub" is broadly used. I always think connecting hub. The DOT, however, rates all airports (with airline service) as large hubs, medium hubs, small hubs, and non-hubs.


I am aware that the FAA terms any airport with more than 1% of the total commercial traffic a "Large Hub" without making the distinction of what kind of traffic is at the airport. Certainly DCA does not fit the conventional definition of a hub, while nor does Orlando, Honolulu or Vegas.


In what world is HNL not a hub? Yes, it has a huge amount of O&D, but thousands of people connect there every day on HA, primarily inter-island.
 
Gulfstream500
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:23 pm

MSP and MDW aren’t going anywhere... MSP is DL’s second largest hub by passengers carried, MDW has one of WN’s largest bases. DCA will remain forever stagnant... AA would never give up their position.

Collapsing hubs? I could see something happening next recession.
 
N292UX
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:42 pm

If there's gonna be a hub that's ever gonna collapse in the future, the most likely would be AA at JFK, which is pretty much already happening. I don't see PHX really going anywhere either, the local market is very strong, and I believe AA has much more space at PHX than they have at LAX, allowing them to make it a primary west coast hub. DCA/LGA have too valuable of local markets to shrink. MIA is valuable due to its geographical location, and is extremely important for flights to Central America/the Caribbean/South America.

As for UA, it would probably be LAX. IAD is more important to them now as they can use it to relieve congestion at EWR, so that's not going anywhere. IAH is important for the SW US, as well as Latin America, and has a very strong local market. ORD/DEN/SFO are most certainly not going anywhere. I could plausibly see EWR shrinking a bit more on the domestic side, but a full collapse of the EWR hub is <1%, and would only happen unless DL or someone can grow extensively at JFK/LGA in the future.

As for DL, I don't really know. DTW/NYC/MSP/SLC are too large to fully collapse, and at least for 3/4 there's a very strong local market. If I had to take a pick, it'd probably be either LAX or SEA due to competition, but those seem unlikely, too. Maybe LAX due to the stiff competition, but if UA were to drop LAX, there's no way DL would leave. BOS has a strong enough local market to support DL's presence, and while it may never be a huge hub, it will at least be able to stay at a decent size due to O&D.

So at this point, not really many hubs are going to fall. If we do see some fall, they will likely be the smaller hubs with <200 daily departures.
 
N292UX
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:44 pm

As for WN, I don't see them really "de-hubbing" any market. I can see them maybe trimming some flights from some bases, but nothing too extreme. ATL/FLL may have some routes that get cut, but the bulk of their operations there aren't going anywhere.

As for F9, they sort of have a revolving door of focus cities outside DEN/MCO/LAS, which aren't going anywhere, but I could definitely see them dumping some of their bases depending on competition, and how reliant they are on the dartboard. AUS/CVG/PHL come to mind as some cities with a bunch of dartboard routes that may/probably will be dumped in the future.

NK has been growing a lot more than shrinking recently, so I could see them actually adding more bases rather than dropping bases. Places like AUS/RSW/BNA/PIT/SAN/TPA come to mind as possible future bases for NK.
Last edited by N292UX on Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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SCFlyer
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:46 pm

Chuska wrote:
This column does bring back memories of many more cities that were once hubs:

AA at BNA, RDU, and SJC
DL at CVG and MEM (MEM previously NW and even RC-Republic before that). PDX was a small hub with flights across the Pacific.
NW had a mini-hub at BIL
TW at MCI. Also had small hubs at ABQ and PIT at the start of deregulation.
CO at ELP.
US at DAY and SYR (previously PI, and Empire at SYR before that).
HP (America West) at CMH.
YX (Midwest Express) at MKE.
QQ (Reno Air) at RNO.

Some very large commuter hubs also existed in the 1980's and 1990's:
Air Midwest at MCI.
Big Sky at BIL.
CommutAir at ALB.
GP Express at GSO (during the short Continental Lite era of the mid-90's)
Mesa at ABQ.

Please feel free to add to this list!


In addition to CLE for UA, UA had "mini-hubs" at MIA (acquired from Pan Am) and before that MCO in their Southern Hub experiments that ultimately failed

UA also had "gateways" (aka Focus Cities) at SEA and JFK which was mostly local O&D international flights to NRT/LHR (and others) before UA closed those bases down and moved those flights to their hubs during bankruptcy.
 
izbtmnhd
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:11 pm

CLE is approaching 10 million pax served annually with a small UA focus city as the largest operation and very little connecting traffic and keeps growing at 5% clip.

STL is at 15.5 million with a fairly large SW connecting “Hub”.

PIT has more int’l service than STL, CVG, CLE, IND, MCI etc.

Not sure CLE/PIT/STL are doing so bad anymore and are certainly beyond “collapsing” hub status. It’s not 2008 or 2014..

As for the current hubs: The US hasn’t had a recession in a decade. The industry is so dynamic and margin driven it’s hard to think all the current US hubs will stay the same after the next downturn comes.
 
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stl07
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:15 pm

johns624 wrote:
PacoMartin wrote:

Although three airports shrank slightly, there seems to be no hubs on the verge of collapse.

Has the industry matured past the point where airports collapse as hubs?
You keep contradicting yourself. Your title implies US hubs are collapsing, then you say that no hubs are on the verge of collapsing. Then you ask if the industry is matured past the point of hubs collapsing.
Just because larger airports aren't growing as fast as smaller ones doesn't mean any are failing.

Huh, I don't see contradictions, I just saw him explaining his thought process once I reread it.
Interesting how every thread is spammed with "bring back paid membership, there are too many spammers"
 
PHLCVGAMTK
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:31 pm

Revelation wrote:
blockski wrote:
Hubs don't just 'collapse' absent some broader change in the industry.

CLE - casualty of the UA/CO merger
STL - casualty of TWA's bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by AA.
PIT - casualty of several mergers and bankruptcies

This thread is a spin-off of another where it was mentioned that the increasing range of narrow bodies such as A320 and 737NG caused some hubs to collapse.

I think that is a decent theory, but as you point out, accelerated by industry consolidation.


The advent of transcontinental-ranged narrowbodies, and the economic conditions for industry consolidation, are inextricably linked developments, and seems about as productive to argue the precedence of the chicken and the egg, to try and unravel which trend was prevalent.

It's not a mistake, or an aberration, that when DL scaled down the CVG hub after the DL/NW merger, that those airplanes went to building up DL's presence at LGA/JFK, which had been a hub for neither DL nor NW pre-merger.

Revelation wrote:
The real sign of the end was when US chose to move most services to PHL despite PHL's notorious smaller size and weather related delays which were an impediment to PHL becoming a major airport.


May I ask what you mean by "PHL's smaller size"? Is that the acreage of the airfield or terminals itself, or the ATC situation, or something else? Because even though PHL is a small aviation market for a city its size (lack of O&D to both NYC and WAS pulls the numbers down), I don't think that even at the heyday of PIT that PHL was handling fewer passengers.
 
Skywatcher
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:11 pm

There are a lot of defensive, knee jerk responses on this thread. It seems that many people don't like the idea that certain hubs or hubs in general are threatened. My take on the numbers is that hub traffic in general is growing slower than "secondary" airport traffic. I for one hate transiting through hubs-they're crowded and prone to screwing up my transfers as a result of weather and/or congestion. I much prefer non-stops/hub busting. Based on the numbers listed above I am not alone.
 
luckyone
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:47 pm

izbtmnhd wrote:
CLE is approaching 10 million pax served annually with a small UA focus city as the largest operation and very little connecting traffic and keeps growing at 5% clip.

Most of CLE growth has been stimulated by the entry of Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit. In particular, Frontier and Spirit lowering fares to the point where a lot of people in Northeast Ohio will now fly to Florida beach destinations that were previously the destination of a car trip.
 
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tlecam
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:03 am

SCFlyer wrote:
Chuska wrote:
This column does bring back memories of many more cities that were once hubs:

AA at BNA, RDU, and SJC
DL at CVG and MEM (MEM previously NW and even RC-Republic before that). PDX was a small hub with flights across the Pacific.
NW had a mini-hub at BIL
TW at MCI. Also had small hubs at ABQ and PIT at the start of deregulation.
CO at ELP.
US at DAY and SYR (previously PI, and Empire at SYR before that).
HP (America West) at CMH.
YX (Midwest Express) at MKE.
QQ (Reno Air) at RNO.

Some very large commuter hubs also existed in the 1980's and 1990's:
Air Midwest at MCI.
Big Sky at BIL.
CommutAir at ALB.
GP Express at GSO (during the short Continental Lite era of the mid-90's)
Mesa at ABQ.

Please feel free to add to this list!


In addition to CLE for UA, UA had "mini-hubs" at MIA (acquired from Pan Am) and before that MCO in their Southern Hub experiments that ultimately failed

UA also had "gateways" (aka Focus Cities) at SEA and JFK which was mostly local O&D international flights to NRT/LHR (and others) before UA closed those bases down and moved those flights to their hubs during bankruptcy.


Didn’t US also have a big presence at BWI? Not sure if it was a gateway or a hub or what.
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Trk1
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:07 am

Jet Blue has really done nothing in Cleveland to stimulate total traffic. Cle-Bos numbers are lower than 10 years ago
 
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southwest1675
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:33 am

Luckily many former hubs are finding new life. Some like STL will never be restored to what it once was, but there are signs of growth everywhere. I think MEM/CVG are the saddest stories. Took 25 years, but BNA is better now, than when it was a hub for AA.
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airlinewatcher1
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:53 am

The old Frontier and Continental once had hubs at Denver Stapleton airport in the 1980's and prior. Continental was once the largest carrier in DEN, even larger than UA for a brief time.

As things stand right now, it's hard to see any hubs going away any time soon, with only 4 major U.S. airlines left and industry consolidation. They are all making lots of money. But never say never in the airline business. If the economy took a turn for the worse, who knows what could happen.
 
Cointrin330
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:57 am

izbtmnhd wrote:
CLE is approaching 10 million pax served annually with a small UA focus city as the largest operation and very little connecting traffic and keeps growing at 5% clip.

STL is at 15.5 million with a fairly large SW connecting “Hub”.

PIT has more int’l service than STL, CVG, CLE, IND, MCI etc.

Not sure CLE/PIT/STL are doing so bad anymore and are certainly beyond “collapsing” hub status. It’s not 2008 or 2014..

As for the current hubs: The US hasn’t had a recession in a decade. The industry is so dynamic and margin driven it’s hard to think all the current US hubs will stay the same after the next downturn comes.


CLE's growth has been attributed to JetBlue, Frontier, and other ULCCs stimulating traffic that wasn't there previously. It is not growing on the back of the UA operation there nor will it. CLE also saw a temporary growth in international pax thanks to the insane war between Icelandair and WOW.
 
KD5MDK
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:08 am

Skywatcher wrote:
There are a lot of defensive, knee jerk responses on this thread. It seems that many people don't like the idea that certain hubs or hubs in general are threatened. My take on the numbers is that hub traffic in general is growing slower than "secondary" airport traffic. I for one hate transiting through hubs-they're crowded and prone to screwing up my transfers as a result of weather and/or congestion. I much prefer non-stops/hub busting. Based on the numbers listed above I am not alone.

The number of flights where that is an option isn't really growing though. Very few airlines operate flights that don't touch one of their hubs, and if you are flying non-stop that usually means you've switched airlines to arrive at one of their hubs, or you're flying Southwest. The numbers given above are for O&D numbers, not transfers. So you're not comparing where the majority of travelers really are going.
 
IPFreely
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:12 am

I agree no major hubs are "collapsing" anytime soon. Especially with airlines in an extended period of nearly unprecedented growth. Maybe the question should be reworded as "which hubs are the most vulnerable in a future recession?" In that case it's probably:

AA
1. LAX/PHX (consolidate to one)
2. JFK/PHL (consolidate to one)

DL
1. SEA
2. BOS
3. DTW

UA
1. LAX

WN (yes, they're considered operating bases and not hubs, so they would be de-based instead of being de-hubbed)
1. ATL
2. MCO
3. DEN
Last edited by IPFreely on Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
kavok
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:13 am

When the economy is good, as it has been for the last few years, there are profitable opportunities to offer direct flights between mid-size markets and far away hubs (hub overflying). This reduces the need for connections at the hub being overflown.
We also see the occasional direct flights between key markets that are non-hub to non-hub. In both situations, much of that traffic is O-D to O-D.

However, when the economy isn’t doing so hot, these are the first routes to get cut, sending connections back to the hubs. Point being, in the next economic downturn, I expect most of the core hubs to absorb the less profitable fringe flying that exists today. And as such, the hubs won’t be as hit as hard (or disappear).
 
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DL717
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:22 am

PacoMartin wrote:
In the past CLE, PIT and STL were once thriving air hubs and have at one time collapsed.

At present (2017-2018) the 30 Large airports in the US are growing at 4% which is slightly lower than the 5% of commercial traffic growth (measured by number of passengers). The 31 Medium airports and 69 Small airports are growing at almost double the rate (by percentage). Absolute numbers for the growth by 42.7 million passengers favor the larger airports.

24,663,801 Large 4.0% 30
10,892,661 Medium 7.8% 31
5,844,328 Small 8.3% 69
1,351,250 Non 4.6% 265
7,012 Service 1.2% 123
42,759,052 Total 5.0% 518

Percentage growth for the 30 Large Airports follows:
FLL 11.35% (also largest growth in absolute numbers 1,795,288 passengers)
SAN 9.28%
TPA 8.59%
IAH 7.93%
MCO 7.59%
PHL 7.16%
BOS 6.65%
SEA 6.12%
EWR 5.69%
IAD 5.42%
SLC 5.26%
DEN 5.21%
PDX 3.91%
JFK 3.68%
LAX 3.38%
ORD 3.32%
SFO 3.31%
ATL 3.21%
DFW 3.16%
BWI 3.05%
LGA 3.04%
HNL 2.80%
DTW 2.35%
PHX 2.06%
LAS 1.84%
MIA 1.51%
CLT 1.23%
MSP -0.26%
DCA -1.21%
MDW -2.14%

Although three airports shrank slightly, there seems to be no hubs on the verge of collapse.

There are critics. Some financial analysts believe that United should move out of Washington Dulles in favor of Newark since having two hubs only 211 miles apart is counterproductive. But United executives strongly disagree that abandoning the capital is a good idea.

Has the industry matured past the point where airports collapse as hubs?


In terms of the FAA definition of a “hub” no one is collapsing. In terms of “airline hubs”, CLE, PIT, STL and CVG were redundant. The scuttling of these four hubs due to mergers caused a reshuffle in ranking using the FAA metric in terms of who is a large or medium hub airport, because the FAA metric is based solely on pax enplanements. You scuttle a hub and they shift from connecting flow to only O&D. All four of these airports may have been large hub as an airline hub, but their local traffic demand was half that or less. In terms of something like MSP v DTW, that minor drop at MSP could simply be the result of Delta making a conscious effort to shift some of the connective flow through DTW instead of MSP by tweaking the schedules a bit to better balance the two operations.

As far as MDW goes, WN has ramped up MKE a bit and that probably takes a bit of pressure off of MDW for the pax north of Chitown that drove to MDW to fly WN. Some of those no doubt go north in about the same amount of drive time, or take the train to MKE. MDW is also thin on capacity, so growth will be limited. They’re out of real estate.

DCA, simply some shuffling. 50 seaters are getting parked left and right and with a perimeter rule, there are only so many markets that can support multiple 70+ seaters. Some markets will be lost, others will see some cuts.
Last edited by DL717 on Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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izbtmnhd
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:23 am

Cointrin330 wrote:
izbtmnhd wrote:
CLE is approaching 10 million pax served annually with a small UA focus city as the largest operation and very little connecting traffic and keeps growing at 5% clip.

STL is at 15.5 million with a fairly large SW connecting “Hub”.

PIT has more int’l service than STL, CVG, CLE, IND, MCI etc.

Not sure CLE/PIT/STL are doing so bad anymore and are certainly beyond “collapsing” hub status. It’s not 2008 or 2014..

As for the current hubs: The US hasn’t had a recession in a decade. The industry is so dynamic and margin driven it’s hard to think all the current US hubs will stay the same after the next downturn comes.


CLE's growth has been attributed to JetBlue, Frontier, and other ULCCs stimulating traffic that wasn't there previously. It is not growing on the back of the UA operation there nor will it. CLE also saw a temporary growth in international pax thanks to the insane war between Icelandair and WOW.


CLE is seeing 5% annual growth DESPITE the UA focus city operation and it's driven almost entirely by O&D. ULCC are there but the mainline carriers have fattened up their schedules too.

Let's be honest, when the CLE hub closed many a.nutter prognosticators (some posting on the thread today) thought CLE would actually shrink after the hub closure. It's what makes this forum fascinating and terrible at the same time. :D

Also, CLE saw 5% increases this summer after WW and FI leaving the scene. So your last sentence holds no weight if you're arguing those two airlines were inflating overall pax counts.

Again it's 2019. How long can y'all talk about CLE/PIT/STL closures from 5-15 years ago? The industry is moving on.
 
Cointrin330
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:46 am

izbtmnhd wrote:
Cointrin330 wrote:
izbtmnhd wrote:
CLE is approaching 10 million pax served annually with a small UA focus city as the largest operation and very little connecting traffic and keeps growing at 5% clip.

STL is at 15.5 million with a fairly large SW connecting “Hub”.

PIT has more int’l service than STL, CVG, CLE, IND, MCI etc.

Not sure CLE/PIT/STL are doing so bad anymore and are certainly beyond “collapsing” hub status. It’s not 2008 or 2014..

As for the current hubs: The US hasn’t had a recession in a decade. The industry is so dynamic and margin driven it’s hard to think all the current US hubs will stay the same after the next downturn comes.


CLE's growth has been attributed to JetBlue, Frontier, and other ULCCs stimulating traffic that wasn't there previously. It is not growing on the back of the UA operation there nor will it. CLE also saw a temporary growth in international pax thanks to the insane war between Icelandair and WOW.


CLE is seeing 5% annual growth DESPITE the UA focus city operation and it's driven almost entirely by O&D. ULCC are there but the mainline carriers have fattened up their schedules too.

Let's be honest, when the CLE hub closed many a.nutter prognosticators (some posting on the thread today) thought CLE would actually shrink after the hub closure. It's what makes this forum fascinating and terrible at the same time. :D

Also, CLE saw 5% increases this summer after WW and FI leaving the scene. So your last sentence holds no weight if you're arguing those two airlines were inflating overall pax counts.

Again it's 2019. How long can y'all talk about CLE/PIT/STL closures from 5-15 years ago? The industry is moving on.


CLE is a decent facility and doesn't sit in the middle of some of the country's most congested airspace, though its proximity to ORD and the East Coast hubs are what ultimately sealed its fate. The growth is driven by capacity adds and yes there is utilization, and no I was not saying that FI and WW were inflating pax counts. If you read my comment a bit more carefully, you'd understand I was saying that the growth is being stimulated by demand that is being created by the airlines mentioned. CLE as a city isn't growing. The catchment area is still large but what most are saying here is that it is unlikely it will ever be a hub for any major airline again.
 
bfitzflyer
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:51 am

tlecam wrote:
SCFlyer wrote:
Chuska wrote:
This column does bring back memories of many more cities that were once hubs:

AA at BNA, RDU, and SJC
DL at CVG and MEM (MEM previously NW and even RC-Republic before that). PDX was a small hub with flights across the Pacific.
NW had a mini-hub at BIL
TW at MCI. Also had small hubs at ABQ and PIT at the start of deregulation.
CO at ELP.
US at DAY and SYR (previously PI, and Empire at SYR before that).
HP (America West) at CMH.
YX (Midwest Express) at MKE.
QQ (Reno Air) at RNO.

Some very large commuter hubs also existed in the 1980's and 1990's:
Air Midwest at MCI.
Big Sky at BIL.
CommutAir at ALB.

NW had small hubs at DCA, BOS, TPA and even MKE at one point. Not sure I ever recall BIL as a hub at any time.
GP Express at GSO (during the short Continental Lite era of the mid-90's)
Mesa at ABQ.

Please feel free to add to this list!


In addition to CLE for UA, UA had "mini-hubs" at MIA (acquired from Pan Am) and before that MCO in their Southern Hub experiments that ultimately failed

UA also had "gateways" (aka Focus Cities) at SEA and JFK which was mostly local O&D international flights to NRT/LHR (and others) before UA closed those bases down and moved those flights to their hubs during bankruptcy.


Didn’t US also have a big presence at BWI? Not sure if it was a gateway or a hub or what.


NW at BIL? I know NW had hubs in BOS, MKE, DCA, TP, SEA at one time or another another. Yes US had a very big presence at BWI.
 
JayinKitsap
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:59 am

Hubs are collapsing for sure, if the definition is to change planes there to get to your destination. There is a vast preference by travelers to go nonstop, if for either cost or no other choice a 1-stop connection. Only if someone is quite remote these days in the US (Think Skagway, Alaska) would anyone do a 2 stop. But there are more destinations from each city than ever.

Southwest built a P-P network that worked adequately for hubbing, but as it has grown the % going nonstop has risen steadily. The two links show WN back in 1996 and now. Note in the current map most of the cities are blue, each has over 50 direct destinations.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erussell1 ... /lightbox/

https://www.flightconnections.com/route ... irlines-wn
 
alo2yyz
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:16 am

JayinKitsap wrote:
Only if someone is quite remote these days in the US (Think Skagway, Alaska) would anyone do a 2 stop.


A bit of an exaggeration, no? Try getting from Knoxville to Bellingham, for example, or State College to Roswell or Waterloo to Tyler...(and so on)

You needn't be in an Alaskan village to double-connect on a domestic US flight.
 
luckyone
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:28 am

alo2yyz wrote:
JayinKitsap wrote:
Only if someone is quite remote these days in the US (Think Skagway, Alaska) would anyone do a 2 stop.


A bit of an exaggeration, no? Try getting from Knoxville to Bellingham, for example, or State College to Roswell or Waterloo to Tyler...(and so on)

You needn't be in an Alaskan village to double-connect on a domestic US flight.

Except in several of those examples there are large airports nearby that serve those communities and are the reason there aren’t as many service options. Namely, if you’re traveling transcon from Knoxville you’re just as likely to use Nashville and/or Seattle in lieu of another stop.
 
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PacoMartin
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:59 am

Data from May 2019
IPFreely wrote:
I agree no major hubs are "collapsing" anytime soon. Especially with airlines in an extended period of nearly unprecedented growth. Maybe the question should be reworded as "which hubs are the most vulnerable in a future recession?" In that case it's probably:
AA
1. LAX/PHX (consolidate to one)
2. JFK/PHL (consolidate to one)


I'm not totally sure that they won't consolidate some hubs even without a recession.

Seats relative to major hub for AA
100.0% Dallas/Fort Worth
62.3% Charlotte
50.3% Miami
40.2% Chicago–O'Hare
34.0% Philadelphia
33.1% Phoenix–Sky Harbor
27.2% Los Angeles
13.1% BOS ~ not a hub
13.0% Washington–National
12.1% New York–LaGuardia
12.0% New York–JFK
10.8% MCO ~ not a hub

IPFreely wrote:
UA 1. LAX


No argument there
100% ORD
94% EWR
89% IAH
84% SFO
80% DEN
42% IAD
37% LAX
16% LAS ~ not a hub

IPFreely wrote:
DL
1. SEA
2. BOS
3. DTW


That's a tough call. I can't argue for any different answer convincingly.

100% Atlanta
25% Minneapolis–St Paul
25% Detroit
19% New York–JFK
17% Salt Lake City
16% Los Angeles
12% Seattle/Tacoma
10% New York–LaGuardia
8% MCO ~ not a hub
8% Boston
 
rbavfan
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:04 am

blockski wrote:
Hubs don't just 'collapse' absent some broader change in the industry.

CLE - casualty of the UA/CO merger
STL - casualty of TWA's bankruptcy and subsequent acquisition by AA.
PIT - casualty of several mergers and bankruptcies


A large portion of STL passengers were kept up due to WN operations at the airport.
 
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PacoMartin
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Re: Collapsing US hubs

Tue Dec 03, 2019 6:31 am

rbavfan wrote:
A large portion of STL passengers were kept up due to WN operations at the airport.


Perhaps the word "collapse" was too strong a word. These airports had a devestating loss of 1/3 to 1/2 their passengers. I didn't mean "collapse" in the sense that there is no recovery. In fact Southwest service at STL is now on the same order as the smallest "base of operations".

Percent of seats in May 2019 for southwest airlines relative to largest airport
100.0% Chicago–Midway
91.2% Las Vegas
90.4% Baltimore
86.9% Denver
77.6% Dallas–Love
75.9% Phoenix–Sky Harbor
69.7% Houston–Hobby
51.3% Oakland
51.2% Orlando
51.0% STL ~ Not a base of operations
50.7% Atlanta
50.6% BNA ~ Not a base of operations
50.1% Los Angeles

Southwest estimates that roughly 70% of their passengers only fly one segment length, so they don't like the term "connecting hub".

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