Airline hub

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Frankfurt Airport serves as a hub city for Lufthansa and receives flights from Star Alliance carriers, among other airlines.

Airline hubs are airports that an airline uses as a transfer point to get passengers to their intended destination. It is part of a hub and spoke model, as opposed to the Point to Point model, where travelers moving between airports not served by direct flights change planes en route to their destinations.[1]

Many airlines also use focus cities, which have a good catchment area and function much the same as hubs, but on a smaller scale and may also function as feeders to main hubs. Some airlines also use the term secondary hubs for large focus cities.[2] Some airlines may use only a single hub, while other airlines use multiple hubs. Hubs are used for both passenger flights as well as cargo flights.[citation needed]

A hub in the middle of a route is more effective than at either end as connecting traffic more easily fills the plane – passengers prefer a one-stop (two-leg) route over a two-stop (three-leg) route.[3] The FAA uses the term airline hub based on number of commercial passengers in the FAA airport categories, re-evaluated every year. Airlines often have their headquarters in a major hub, whether on the same campus as the hub airport (for example, Delta Air Lines has its headquarters at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a Delta hub), or otherwise in the city served by the hub (for example, United Airlines has its headquarters in Chicago, which is served by O'Hare International Airport, a United hub).


A dominant airline will take competitive measures to defend its preferred position at a hub airport.[4] This can stifle competition, for example Pro Air's battle with Northwest when it briefly flew out of Detroit City Airport: Northwest was able to out compete the short-lived discount carrier by matching its fares and offering more frequent flights.[5]

New entrants, such as Spirit Airlines at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, or AirTran at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, allege to have been the target of exclusionary practices by the dominant carrier, like in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport or all Delta Air Lines hubs[citation needed].

Airports where a single airline's share of flights is at or above 70 percent can be called fortress hub.[6] For example, in 2010 US Airways occupied 85 (plus 1 shared with Lufthansa) out of 97 total gates and accounted for approximately 90% of passenger traffic at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The existence of fortress hubs makes possible the use of airline booking ploys such as "hidden city" ticketing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Low cost vs. Full service Airlines: What's the difference? - Sir Trips-a-lot". Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Eric Heymann (18 August 2006). Hans-Joachim Frank, ed. "The future of the hub strategy in the air transport industry" (PDF). Deutsche Bank Research. 
  3. ^ Schofield, Adrian (27 August 2012). "Competition Heats Up As Carriers Contest Kangaroo Routes". Aviation Week. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Entry and Competition in the U.S. Airline Industry, special report 255 appendixes" (PDF). Transportation Research Board. April 1998. 
  5. ^ "Online NewsHour: Air Fares". 15 June 1998. Archived from the original on 1 May 1999. 
  6. ^ Dr. Mark N. Cooper (22 January 1999). "Freeing Public Policy from the Deregulation Debate: The Airline Industry Comes of Age" (PDF). Consumer Federation of America. pp. 10–11. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007. 

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