Airline Hubs Make Flights Late

from the aha! dept

So, part of the reason there were so few posts to Techdirt yesterday was that I spent (what felt like) most of the day sitting on a Delta 757 on the runway in Atlanta waiting to fly back to San Francisco. Atlanta, of course, is a Delta hub, and the pilot blamed weather in the northeast (even though we weren’t flying anywhere near the northeast) and other general congestion problems for our repeated delays. So, it seems timely that new research has come out saying that airline hubs create long delays for flights – going against the “conventional” wisdom that it’s a question of airport capacity. The hub system encourages airlines to have a large number of flights flying to many different locations all leaving at similar times – creating the congestion. So, if you want to get somewhere on time, try to avoid having to fly through an airline’s hub airport.

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Comments on “Airline Hubs Make Flights Late”

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2Lazy2Register says:

It's not the hob 'concept,'

IMHO, it’s not the hub concept itself that is the problem. Rather, it’s where they put the hubs. Airport capacity is almost entirely a function of how many runways the airport has. The number of runways an airport can have is almost entirely limited by the surrounding area. Cost of land, noise control, etc. all contribute to the relatively small number of runways available at any major city airport.

Now, if you consider that something like 80% (made up number!!) of people at a hub airport are just passing through, why wouldn’t the airlines get together and fund the development of very large airports that are located basically out in the middle of nowhere? You could have 16 runways out in the plains somewhere. The airports would just be hubs, not destinations, although I suspect a few hotels and restaurants would crop up around them. With this model, a trip from the east coast to the west coast wouldn’t stop at O’Hare, it would stop in Kansas or Iowa. Of course, if you want to go to O’Hare because you friggin’ want to, then go right ahead. You will find it to be a more enjoyable experience because the crowds of people just passing through are out in the boonies somewhere.

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