Hello to all, this is my first OP. Before I explain this subtle topic, let me just say I have been reading a-net daily or nearly for the past 6 years, so I know some of you way better than you do me
I joined 3 weeks ago when I finally deemed I had something to add, principally in Game Theory applied to commercial aviation ( I even toyed about going by GTG or GameTheoryGuy ). I have few subjects I am interested in but not discussed or covered well enough, so there will be few OPs on my part but I am sure to learn from your inputs.
The importance of hubs has been amply discussed ad nauseam from all economic POVs, so this is not about hub-spokes or point-to-point models, not about frequencies or minimizing lay-overs. It is about what hubs quality-conscious Pax prefer to transit through and what both airlines & airport authorities do or invest in to lure in more traffic. Therefore, it is not only about travel preferences, it is also about economics, finance & services : seamless & fast connectivity, consumer services, duty frees, attractive lay-over allowances & visa-waiwers all have economic relevance & impact to both hubs and their home airline. While most Pax will go through the hub of the cheapest ticket they buy, aviation connoisseurs & premium passengers often choose their flight, and sometimes their FF programme, based on Hub qualities. SQ & the ME3 owe their success much to these positive synergies, SIN because it does very well despite not being geographically well located as BKK or HKG, the ME3 because extremely well located but started from scratch in the middle of nowhere.
To but this into perspective, I am an economist but see that my decisions & plannings, like many FF I know, do not fit the standard offer/demand model held as gospel here & in commercial Aviation in general. Within the LH group, I choose ZRH over FRA for its convenient facilities & systematically so when flights take me in or out of the Schengen area, FRA is pax-unfriendly & unless you literally run through the underground corridors between LH terminals, queues at custom & passport checks will make you miss your LH short-time connecting flights - I've seen that happen to hundreds of passengers. Within Europe, CDG has my preference for its high connectivity everywhere, superior & cheaper than LHR. But if I have a day or more to spare, typically a (long) week-end, I will pick up another airline to a nice city with the needed connectivity, so FFpoints really come second : AMS, FCO, LIS, MAD, CPH, RIX, SVO, IST, DXB, BKK, SIN & HKG are favourites. In North America, I like YYZ, ORD, EWR & IAD each for different reasons, ( I even chose DFW once just to have a new ride on the airside train : silly but enough for AA to get my money ), but Canada aside, the whole int'l transit process is a hassle & I avoid US airports like pest as transit points elsewhere. To South America, as I also hate GRU, depending on final destination, MEX, BOG & LIM have a nice local flavour to get me out of my way if need be.
While many of these airports are run independently of their home airline, some work hand in hand to make the whole transit & lay-over experience worth the detour, with significant opportunity costs to pax ( in terms of time & FF points ), but above all to airlines & their FF programmes, admitedly marginal but stil significant in terms of money to tap. If my case is any indication, a whopping 2/3 of my flights are not with my preferred alliance. These synergetic & seamless hubs include : CDG, RIX, IST, AUH, DOH, DXB, BKK & SIN, they all naturally developped restaurants & shops that make a sizable part of their profits & thus of airlines too by the additional Pax they lure in. So as this behaviour violates the standard consumer model, my questions are manyfold :
1. Do you systematically prefer your FF programme & minimum time travel over any other consideration ?
2. If not, what hubs do you fly into instead of the most direct and/or cheaper route ?
3. In your opinion, what hubs have made an excellent job in luring more Pax than standard O/D & simple connecting flows would allow ?
4. SQ & ME3 aside, what other airlines have thrived on other criteria than connectivity, price & on-board service ?
5. Related to question above, what airlines have greater room for expansion by developping these criteria further ?
6. In the end, what are the hubs best positionned to attract quality-minded passengers away from cheap fares, FF points, max connectivity & max frequecies considerations ?