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BNAOWB
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East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:45 am

If we define "East U.S." as U.S. states located east of the Mississippi River and if we define "East Asia" as Asia east of India, what is the approximate percentage of passengers flying between these regions that currently transit at West Coast hubs (LAX/SFO/SEA/YVR/PDX/SAN/SJC) instead of having trans-Pacific segments involving East U.S. (plus YYZ) or Central U.S. (DEN and eastward) hubs ? Has this percentage steadily decreased in recent decades as trans-Pacific options bypassing the West Coast have increased? And, if so, will this percentage likely continue to decrease in the future? Or, will the huge volume of trans-Pacific flights from the West Coast along with the relocation of some routes to the West Coast (such as DL SEA-HKG in place of DTW-HKG) keep a strong percentage of East U.S. - East Asia passengers transiting at West Coast hubs?
 
lhcvg
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:19 am

I will answer this by referencing an interesting stat about UA mentioned on FT a while back: SFO only has a couple Asian destinations (it was 1 then, and maybe 2 or 3 now) that ORD doesn't also serve N/S. In other words, I think this is a reflection of overflying/bypassing the West Coast hubs to Asia.

As you mention, West Coast U.S.-Asia will always be king for O&D, and as such airlines will be happy to take on connecting pax to help fill it up and reduce CASM. But yes the percentage of non-backtracking connections over West Coast hubs to Asia will continue to decline (flying BOI-ORD-NRT doesn't make sense vs. BOI-SFO-NRT). Also don't forget 787s and 350s which will begin opening up even more n/s East Coast/Eastern U.S. to Asia routes, further reducing the proportion going to West Coast hubs.

If anything, I'd argue the biggest shift will be the last one -- from West Coast as the primary gateway until the last decade or so, to most of the important routes flown n/s from ORD/JFK/EWR/IAD/DTW/ATL/etc. Those Midwest and Western hubs will both lose a bit as traffic inevitably shifts to those nonstops flying out of East Coast hubs going forward, but they will survive from incremental connections (e.g., those who don't want to backtrack for CVG-EWR-xxx and instead want to stick with CVG-ORD/DEN/LAX-xxx) and their O&D markets.

Don't get me wrong -- East Coast to Asia and West Coast to Europe will always be relatively smaller than the near coasts across the oceans -- but you are correct that the landscape is and will continue to shift away from West Coast Asian gateways. Offhand I'd guess that increased overall pax travel will probably mean that those West Coast hubs don't really see too much net drop in traffic in the long run either.
 
HKG212
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:53 am

Quoting LHCVG (Reply 1):
Also don't forget 787s and 350s which will begin opening up even more n/s East Coast/Eastern U.S. to Asia routes, further reducing the proportion going to West Coast hubs.

I believe the real game changer which started the relative decline of West Coast gateways was not longer-range aircraft, but rather the opening of polar routes in the late 1990s.

Bear in mind that HKG-LAX is only about 800nm shorter than HKG-JFK, and only 600nm or so shorter than HKG-ORD. So for most population centers east of the Rockies West Coast hubs don't make much sense as Asian gateways. For example, HKG-ORD-PIT is about 1,200nm shorter than HKG-LAX-PIT.
 
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RayChuang
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:57 am

I think the shift in less emphasis on US West Coast hubs on USA to eastern Asia flights started to happen in a big way when the Boeing 747-400 became available from 1990 on. The range of the 744--over 7,000 nautical miles--made it possible to fly from JFK to NRT/ICN/PEK directly for the first time without a major sacrifice in payload like it was with the 747SP. The arrival of the A340 in 1993 and the 777-200ER in 1997--which has a design range very close to that of the 744--accelerated that trend.
 
jfk777
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:21 am

LAX and secondly SFO will always have the biggest numbers to many Asia-Pacific markets, especially Australia. Asia with planes like the 777-300ER and 787 is closer as they operate more flights. US airlines all have mid-west hubs in ORD, MSP and Detroit plus nonstops from New York.

Part of the expansion is not only the capable airplanes but the expansionist airlines themselves. While Singapore Air has the same schedule to the USA it has had for years Cathay has expanded every time a 777 is delivered. Korean and Asiana cover more of the USA then JAL and ANA do.

LAX is still the biggest Pacific airport in the US, others have expanded from Tokyo only flights to a whole who's who of airlines from the region.
 
HKG212
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:03 pm

Quoting jfk777 (Reply 4):
LAX and secondly SFO will always have the biggest numbers to many Asia-Pacific markets, especially Australia.

Australia is not East Asia and so not relevant to this thread. If you take Australia out, I'm not at all convinced that you are right, at least not for SFO, for all the reasons cited by myself and others earlier.
 
jetblue1965
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:29 pm

Quoting jfk777 (Reply 4):

SQ to CX is not a fair comparison since every SQ route require a 5th freedom tag ... Those are challenging at the best of times, so massive expansion won't do them any good

Don't forget both SQ and CX serve 4 US cities : they share SFO LAX NYC, and they trade ORD for IAH

while east coast hubs can start reaching larger destinations in east Asia, the west coast hubs can start offering secondary destinations - SFO-CTU is a prime example where DTW or ORD would be hard to replicate. The 789 can reach both BKK and SIN from SFO (whether it's profitable is another debate)
 
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LAXintl
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:57 pm

No guessing needed. There are stats on this.

In summary, one single state - California makes up nearly 50% of all traffic between US mainland and Far East. Rest of demand is spread out broadly across the rest of the nation, with a few large local markets like NYC and Chicago that stand out.

West Coast gateways to the Pacific will always exist as they are home to such large local markets and thus will be the place from where airline will concentrate their capacity at. The West Coast will also be from where more risky or secondary destinations can be tried from, similar to how NYC becomes the primary jumping off point across the Atlantic.
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tlecam
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RE: East U.S.-East Asia: Relevance Of West Coast Hubs?

Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:10 pm

As a Boston based flyer, it's an interesting topic. I do not fly through the west coast going to Asia. Traditionally, I've gone through JFK/DTW or ORD. Now, Asian based companies are starting service to Boston, so it makes direct flights (JAL, Hainan) possible in a couple of cases or connections through their Asian hubs an option. Cathay is rumored to launch service to Hong Kong. I work for a large firm with a lot of people who aren't based in NYC/ORD/IAD. Those east of the Missippi do not usually fly through the west coast.

Also of note, Emirates has started service and Turkish is starting service. Although it's a longer trip, there are those options as well.
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