AIRLINE HUBS or HUB AIRPORTS are used by one or more airlines to
concentrate passenger traffic and flight operations at a given airport
. They serve as transfer (or stop-over) points to get passengers to
their final destination. It is part of the hub-and-spoke system . An
airline operates flights from several non-hub (spoke) cities to the
hub airport, and passengers traveling between spoke cities need to
connect through the hub. This paradigm creates economies of scale that
allow an airline to serve (via an intermediate connection) city-pairs
that could otherwise not be economically served on a non-stop basis.
This system contrasts with the point-to-point model , in which there
are no hubs and nonstop flights are instead offered between spoke
cities. Hub airports also serve origin and destination (O a flight
from a hub to a spoke carries not just passengers originating at the
hub, but also passengers originating at multiple spoke cities.
However, the system is costly. Additional employees and facilities are
needed to cater to connecting passengers. To serve spoke cities of
varying populations and demand, an airline requires several aircraft
types, and specific training and equipment are necessary for each
type. In addition, airlines may experience capacity constraints as
they expand at their hub airports.
For the passenger, the hub-and-spoke system offers one-stop air
service to a wide array of destinations. However, having to
regularly make connections en route to their final destination
increases travel time. Additionally, airlines can come to monopolise
their hubs, allowing them to freely increase fares.
Airlines may operate banks of flights at their hubs, in which several
flights arrive and depart within short periods of time. The banks may
be known as "peaks" of activity at the hubs and the non-banks as
"valleys". Banking allows for short connection times for passengers.
However, an airline must assemble a large number of resources to cater
to the influx of flights during a bank, and having several aircraft on
the ground at the same time can lead to congestion and delays. In
addition, banking could result in inefficient aircraft utilisation,
with aircraft waiting at spoke cities for the next bank.
Instead, some airlines have debanked their hubs, introducing a
"rolling hub" in which flight arrivals and departures are spread
throughout the day. This phenomenon is also known as "depeaking".
While costs may decrease, connection times are longer at a rolling
Airlines was the first to depeak its hubs, trying to
improve profitability following the
September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks . It
rebanked its hubs in 2015, however, feeling the gain in connecting
passengers would outweigh the rise in costs.
TYPES OF HUBS
FedEx Express aircraft at Memphis International
The primary hub of
British Airways is Heathrow
The hub-and-spoke system is also used by some cargo airlines . FedEx
Express established its main hub in Memphis in 1973, prior to the
deregulation of the air cargo industry in the United States. The
system has created an efficient delivery system for the airline.
Other airlines that use this system include UPS
Airlines , TNT Airways
DHL Aviation , which operate their primary hubs at
Louisville , Liège , Luxembourg and Leipzig respectively.
Although the term focus city used to mainly refer to an airport from
which an airline operates several point-to-point routes, its usage has
expanded to refer to a small-scale hub as well. For example, JetBlue
's New York–JFK focus city, which is the airline's busiest
operation, functions like a hub.
A fortress hub exists when an airline controls a significant majority
of the market at one of its hubs. Competition is particularly
difficult at fortress hubs. Examples include
Delta Air Lines ' hub at
Atlanta , American
Airlines ' hub at Dallas , and United
hub at Houston–Intercontinental .
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY HUBS
A primary hub is the main hub for an airline. However, as an airline
expands operations at its primary hub to the point that it experiences
capacity limitations, it may elect to open secondary hubs. Examples of
such hubs are Turkish
Airlines ' Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen hub,
British Airways ' hub at London-Gatwick ,
Air India 's hub at Mumbai
Lufthansa 's hub at Munich . By operating multiple hubs, airlines
can expand their geographic reach. They can also better serve
spoke–spoke markets, providing more itineraries with connections at
A given hub's capacity may become exhausted or capacity shortages may
occur during peak periods of the day, at which point airlines may be
compelled to shift traffic to a reliever hub. A reliever hub has the
potential to serve several functions for an airline: it can bypass the
congested hub, it can absorb excess demand for flights that could
otherwise not be scheduled at the congested hub, and it can schedule
new O"> Emirates aircraft at
In 1974, the governments of
Qatar and the United
Arab Emirates took control of
Gulf Air from the British Overseas
Airways Corporation (BOAC).
Gulf Air became the flag carrier of the
four Middle Eastern nations. It linked Oman,
Qatar and the UAE to its
Bahrain hub, from which it offered flights to destinations throughout
Europe and Asia. In the UAE,
Gulf Air focused on
Abu Dhabi rather than
Dubai , contrary to the aspirations of UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin
Rashid Al Maktoum to transform the latter into a world-class
metropolis. Sheikh Mohammed proceeded to establish a new airline based
in Dubai, Emirates , which launched operations in 1985.
Observing the success of Emirates,
Oman decided to create
their own airlines as well.
Qatar Airways and
Oman Air were both
founded in 1993, with hubs at
Doha and Muscat respectively. As the new
airlines grew, their home nations relied less on
Gulf Air to provide
Qatar withdrew its share in
Gulf Air in 2002. In 2003,
the UAE formed another national airline,
Etihad Airways , which is
based in Abu Dhabi. The country exited
Gulf Air in 2006, and Oman
followed in 2007.
Qatar Airways and
Etihad Airways have since established
large hubs at their respective home airports. The hubs, which benefit
from their proximity to large population centres, have become popular
stopover points on trips between Europe and Asia, for example. Their
rapid growth has impacted the development of traditional hubs, such as
Before the US airline industry was deregulated in 1978, most airlines
operated under the point-to-point system . The Civil Aeronautics
Board dictated which routes an airline could fly. At the same time,
however, some airlines began to experiment with the hub-and-spoke
Delta Air Lines was the first to implement such a system,
providing service to remote spoke cities from its Atlanta hub. After
deregulation, many airlines quickly established hub-and-spoke route
networks of their own.
List of former airline hubs
List of hub airports
* ^ Colloquially, an airline hub may be defined as an airport that
receives a large number of passengers or as an airport that serves as
the operating base of an airline, whether or not the airline allows
for connecting traffic.
* ^ The
Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration of the United States
defines a hub in terms of passenger enplanements. Specifically, a hub
is an airport that handles 0.05% or more of the nation's annual
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Commercial air travel
Airline holding companies
* Charter airlines
* Low-cost airlines
* Passenger airlines
* Regional airlines
* International (ACO
* ISTAT )
* United States (A4A
* RAA )
* Europe (AEA
* ERA )
* Other regions (AACO
* RAAA )
* First Officer
* Second Officer
* Third Officer
First class (aviation)
First class (aviation)
First class travel
Aircraft seat map
Buy on board
Crew rest compartment
Airport rail link
Low cost carrier terminal
CUSTOMS / IMMIGRATION
Arrival card (
Landing card )
* Impact on environment
Air transport agreement
Bermuda Agreement (UK-US, 1946-78)
Bermuda II Agreement (UK-US, 1978-2008)
Cross-Strait charter (China-Taiwan)
Cape Town Treaty
* Chicago Convention
Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives
Freedoms of the air
Hague Hijacking Convention
Open skies (
EU–US Open Skies Agreement )
Paris Convention of 1919
* Rome Convention
* Sabotage Convention
Baggage handling system
Air Navigation and Transport Act
Air traffic control
Air traffic control (ATC)
Aircraft safety card
Airport crash tender
National aviation authority
Pre-flight safety demonstration
Unruly aircraft passenger
Airline booking ploys
Airline reservations system
Fare basis code
Flight cancellation and delay
Government contract flight
Passenger name record
Aircraft maintenance technician
* Aircraft ground handler