View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Another matter. Is now a good time for airlines to re-evaluate the hub system? I realize there are economies of scale that accrue, but the practice seems to make the whole system more fragile. Until it hit the iceberg, TWA (Teeny-Weeny Airlines) had one hub - St. Louis - which meant it also had a single point of failure. If the weather over Missouri was bad, TWA's whole operation shut down. I once arrived in Atlanta at 4:00 AM, and another time had to be re-routed completely to get to NY before Shabbat.

Southwest operates without a hub, but you also end up making a number of stops as you hop your way across the country. It would appear that, with larger planes, the bigger airlines could also survive without hubs, and still keep many direct flights. With the FAA approving open skies routing (fly the shortest route, or go around storms, rather than sticking to established airlanes), this would seem to be a good time for one of the big boys to try this.

Open skies, by the way, is not nearly as dangerous as it sounds. In fact, it's probably safer. Planes won't have to worry about converging at those waypoints where routes intersect, and the sky is very, very big, while the plane is very, very small.

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