Best connected airline hubs by region revealed; global winner Turkish Airlines in Istanbul pulls away from Delta Air Lines in Atlanta
There are many ways to compare airline hubs, but this week anna.aero reveals which airlines have the biggest hubs in terms of total number of destinations served non-stop. This admittedly takes no account of frequency of service on routes or indeed aircraft size, both of which may be better indicators of the size of an airline hub. However, given that anna.aero is about airline route networks we thought it would still be interesting to see which carriers across the globe (and within specific geographic regions) gave passengers the greatest range of destinations to choose from.
At some point in the last couple of years Turkish Airlines overtook Delta Air Lines for the claim of having the biggest single hub network of non-stop destinations. The Star Alliance carrier has now built a significant lead at Istanbul Atatϋrk over its SkyTeam rival at Atlanta and looks likely to remain the leader for the foreseeable future.
There are now a total of 23 airports at which a specific carrier operates flights to at least 125 destinations non-stop. Of these 12 are in the US, eight are in Europe, two are in Asia and one in the Middle East. Only two of these mega-hubs are operated by LCCs; Vueling in Barcelona and Ryanair at London Stansted. United Airlines has three hubs in the top six (and four in the top 12), while American Airlines also has four hubs in the top 23. Delta Air Lines has three hubs with more than 125 destinations, while Lufthansa is the only non-US carrier to feature twice in the rankings.
USB3 dominate in North America
Among the top 12 best connected North American airline hubs, only one is not in the US. Air Canada’s Toronto Pearson base ranks 7th in North America. The remaining positions are shared out among the USB3; American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.
Southwest Airlines’ most connected hub is Chicago Midway with 70 destinations, while JetBlue Airways’ biggest hub is at New York JFK with 67 destinations. WestJet serves 51 destinations from its Toronto Pearson hub, Spirit Airlines 45 from its Fort Lauderdale hub and Frontier Airlines a total of 44 destinations from its Denver hub.
Vueling in Barcelona serves more destinations than British Airways at Heathrow
Twelve airports in Europe have airlines operating non-stop to more than 100 destinations. Three of the airports are in the UK, with two each in Germany and Spain. Interestingly, Vueling now serves more destinations non-stop from its Barcelona base (142) than fellow IAG member airline British Airways does from London Heathrow (135). Lufthansa is the only carrier to make the top 12 twice, with both its Frankfurt and Munich hubs serving over 120 destinations. Since Austrian Airlines also makes the top 12 the Lufthansa group of airlines is actually represented three times in these rankings.
Chinese hubs take seven of top 12 positions
China’s three biggest airlines top the Asian rankings, with each serving over 100 destinations from one airport; Air China from Beijing, China Southern Airlines from Guangzhou and China Eastern Airlines from Shanghai Pudong. Each also appears a second time in the top 12, while Sichuan Airlines’ Chengdu base makes it seven Chinese airline hubs in the top 12. Two South Korean carriers, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air, also feature, making Seoul Incheon the only airport to appear twice in the top 12. AirAsia’s Kuala Lumpur base is the only LCC base to make the rankings while there are no airlines from either India or Japan.
Qatar Airways beats Emirates; flydubai beats Etihad Airways
In the Middle East, Qatar Airways has overtaken Emirates in terms of destinations served non-stop from their hubs. Emirates does not even make the top 23 globally, but ranks second globally (just behind Turkish Airlines) for the airline hub with the most seat capacity at a single hub. Dubai-based flydubai, which launched only just over six years ago, now serves 90 destinations non-stop, three more than Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. Saudi Arabian Airlines does a Lufthansa by appearing twice in the regional top 12, while Air Arabia’s Sharjah base joins flydubai as the second LCC to make the rankings.
Aeromexico just holding off Copa Airlines
In Latin America Aeromexico’s Mexico City base is four destinations ahead of Copa Airlines’ Panama City base. With Brazil the biggest market in the region it is no surprise that Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport should appear twice (thanks to GOL and TAM Airlines), with TAM Airlines also appearing a second time due to its Brasilia base. Azul Airlines is another Brazilian airline that features twice. Interjet’s growing presence at Mexico City means that the Mexican capital also appears twice in the top 12 rankings.
Royal Air Maroc leads in Africa
There are 12 different airports in the African top 12 hubs, which features 10 different airlines. Air Algérie and Tunisair both feature twice, though neither makes it into the top three. Royal Air Maroc still holds a significant lead over Ethiopian Airlines, though EGYPTAIR’s Cairo base jumps from third to first if seat capacity is used as the measure. No LCC makes it into the top 12.
In the South Pacific region (which includes Australia and New Zealand) the battle between Air New Zealand and Qantas sees the former’s Auckland base (44 routes) just beat the latter’s Sydney base (41 routes). Sydney appears three times in the top 12 while Brisbane and Melbourne both appear twice.
While this is a good indicator of how well an airline network is spread frequency shd be taken into account too.
Has there been a similar report published looking at airports as entities? That will be an interesting statistic.
Not only frequency but also, arguably, capacity. As the article points out based on seats Emirates would jump from outside the top 23 to #2! It would indeed be interesting to look at airports as entities. Maybe for a future analysis … 🙂
Where is Changi and Singapore Airlines?
Singapore Airlines serves 52 destinations non-stop from Changi, so fails to make the Asian top 12.
Singapore Airlines serves 52 destinations non-stop from Singapore Changi so fails to make the Asian top 12.
in Africa Ethiopian comes first:
From its hub at Addis Ababa, Ethiopian serves 91 international and 20 domestic destinations.
As you will see from the map at that link quite a few of those destinations are served via an intermediate stop. Our analysis looked at destinations served NON-STOP which in Ethiopian Airlines’ case is currently 72.
Surprised you haven’t mentioned Emirates.
They have 126 destinations though pairs Heathrow/Gatwick and Narita/Haneda may be calculated as a single city.
But anyway they start Multan tomorrow and tomorrow it’ll be 125=)
I think your figure for Emirates includes those served via an intermediate stop. Our analysis looked at destinations served NON-STOP from the airline hubs. Heathrow/Gatwick and Narita/Haneda were treated as separate destinations.
We did mention Emirates a couple of times. Your figure possibly includes destinations served via an intermediate stop whereas our analysis looks at destinations served NON-STOP. And we do treat Heathrow/Gatwick and Narita/Haneda as separate destinations.
I think people – not necessarily here, but certainly on other forums – are thinking too much about this article. It is, more than anything else, fun, and it is valid within its self-stated limitations. As for its title, it is fun, provocative, and controversial, i.e. entirely what is needed to get views.