Modern aviation has evolved dramatically in the past decades. Among the many things that have changed over the years is the business and most importantly the operational model of many airlines. Over the years many budget carriers have emerged and taken on the legacy airlines. However to do so they had to get creative with their operations to stay profitable while offering low fares. Therefore we’ll be analysing in this post the differences between the hub and spoke model and the point to point model. How do they work and what are their advantages and drawbacks?
How Does The Hub And Spoke Model Work?
The hub and spoke model features a main hub, generally a very large airport, from which flights operate to other airports and back. The goal of the outgoing flights from the main hub is to get transferring passengers to their final destination. While the incoming flights to the main hub will have to feed passengers to long range or high demand services. These could be to both other main hubs or international destinations.
Who Uses the Hub And Spoke Model?
The hub and spoke flight model is the preferred option for most legacy and full service airlines. You’ll see it in use all over the world. However in the US is where the hub and spoke model truly shines with all major airlines having more than one hub and operating domestic feeder flights between hubs. In Europe most airlines, except Lufthansa, have only 1 mega hub to which they feed most of their flights.
Which are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Hub And Spoke Model?
The main advantage for the airlines is to be able to fill effectively its flights by cross feeding passengers from short haul connections to long haul ones and viceversa.
From a passenger prospective this model offers higher guarantees that the flight won’t have any disruptions. The main hubs have all the equipment needed to solve any technical issue that may arise. Also with larger numbers of passengers in large hubs it’s financially viable to offer better amenities such as airport lounges.
The drawbacks from the airline’s point of view are the significantly higher costs this model drives. Staff costs are significantly higher as more services and infrastructure is necessary.
From the passenger’s point of view the hub and spoke model will often force to travel on connecting flights in order to get to the final destination. This translates to longer travel times which in many cases is not ideal.
How Does The Point to Point Model Work?
As the name suggests, this model is quite intuitive. Airlines will operate flights from one airport to the other without the need to transit or go through a main hub. In many cases the point to point model also offer flights between secondary airports.
Who Uses the Point to Point Model?
This is the go to option for the vast majority of the world’s low cost airlines. The likes of Southwest, Ryanair, Wizzair, Easyjet and Spirit all use this model. These airlines will place smaller units of planes in airport across che country and shuffle them around their network day in and day out. Planes don’t cover regular outgoing and incoming flights from the airport where they are based, rather they travel onwards from one to the other and so on.
Which are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Point to Point model?
From the airline’s point of view the point to point model reduces significantly costs needed at the airports they fly to. Minimal numbers of directly hired ground staff, if any, are necessary. Also the model allows to operate flights between secondary destinations where demand is thin by moving its planes around and not having to continuously serve flights to the same airport.
The disadvantage for the airlines is that not having any facilities at the airports in case of technical issues with a plane the model is prone to delays that can have a knock-on effect on other flights during the day.
From a passenger’s point of view you get cheap flights, with bare minimum fares, with direct flights that often are not available with legacy airlines.
The drawback for passengers is the risk of delays and disruptions, particularly in secondary airport, is significantly higher with this model. Also there won’t be any extra services to make your trip more pleasant or enjoyable.