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 Airlines 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.

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.

Large hubs[edit]

The following carriers uses hubs among the 30 busiest airports by passenger traffic for 2014:[7]

code C. Airport Passengers Main airline Alliance
ATL United States Atlanta 96,178,899 Delta Air Lines SkyTeam
PEK China Beijing Capital 86,130,390 Air China Star Alliance
LHR United Kingdom London Heathrow 73,408,442 British Airways Oneworld
HND Japan Tokyo Haneda Airport 72,826,862 Japan Airlines Oneworld
LAX United States Los Angeles 70,665,472 American Airlines Oneworld
DXB United Arab Emirates Dubai 70,475,636 Emirates
ORD United States Chicago O'Hare 70,015,746 United Airlines Star Alliance
CDG France Paris-Charles de Gaulle 63,808,796 Air France SkyTeam
DFW United States Dallas/Fort Worth 63,523,489 American Airlines Oneworld
HKG Hong Kong Hong Kong 63,148,379 Cathay Pacific Oneworld
FRA Germany Frankfurt 59,566,132 Lufthansa Star Alliance
CGK Indonesia Jakarta 57,005,406 Garuda Indonesia SkyTeam
IST Turkey Istanbul Atatürk 56,767,108 Turkish Airlines Star Alliance
AMS Netherlands Amsterdam Schiphol 54,978,023 KLM SkyTeam
CAN China Guangzhou 54,780,346 China Southern Airlines SkyTeam
SIN Singapore Singapore 54,091,802 Singapore Airlines Star Alliance
JFK United States New York JFK 53,635,346 Delta Air Lines SkyTeam
DEN United States Denver 53,472,514 United Airlines Star Alliance
PVG China Shanghai Pudong 51,651,800 China Eastern Airlines SkyTeam
KUL Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 48,932,471 Malaysia Airlines Oneworld
SFO United States San Francisco 47,114,611 United Airlines Star Alliance
BKK Thailand Bangkok 46,423,352 Thai Airways Star Alliance
ICN South Korea Seoul 45,662,322 Korean Air SkyTeam
CLT United States Charlotte 44,333,475 American Airlines Oneworld
LAS United States Las Vegas 42,869,517 Southwest Airlines
PHX United States Phoenix 42,125,212 American Airlines Oneworld
MAD Spain Madrid–Barajas 41,815,261 Iberia Oneworld
IAH United States Houston 41,194,558 United Airlines Star Alliance
MIA United States Miami 40,941,879 American Airlines Oneworld
GRU Brazil São Paulo 39,773,716 TAM Airlines Oneworld

Hubs with most direct connexions[edit]

number of non-stop destinations, august 2015[8]
Code Airport Airline destinations
IST Istanbul Atatürk Airport Turkish Airlines 242
ATL Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport Delta Airline 224
DFW Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport American Airlines 191
IAH George Bush Intercontinental Airport United Airlines 178
ORD O'Hare International Airport United Airlines 172
FRA Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa 169
EWR Newark Liberty International Airport United Airlines 150
CDG Paris Charles de Gaulle Air France 146
CLT Charlotte International Airport American Airlines 144
BCN Barcelona El Prat Vueling 142
PEK Beijing Airport Air China 135
LHR London Heathrow British Airways 135
AMS Amsterdam Airport Schiphol KLM 130
STN London Stansted Ryanair 130
CAN Canton Airport China Southern Airlines 129
YYZ Toronto Pearson International Airport Air Canada 129
DEN Denver International Airport United Airlines 129

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Low cost vs. Full service Airlines: What's the difference? - Sir Trips-a-lot". Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  2. ^ Eric Heymann (August 18, 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". 1998-06-15. Archived from the original on May 1, 1999. 
  6. ^ Dr. Mark N. Cooper (1999-01-22). "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 2007-03-17. 
  7. ^ "Passenger Traffic for past 12 months ending dec. 2014". Airports Council International. 24 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Best connected airline hubs by region revealed". Airline Network News & Analysis. 29 Jul 2015. 

External links[edit]