When American announced that they’d be keeping all of the current hubs between American and US Airways, it seemed odd that they’d be keeping so many focus cities, especially since many of them are within such a close distance of each other, or provide the same service of flights.
Could American be considering closing their Charlotte hub?
What prompted this discussion is an interesting article in the Charlotte Observer.
Charlotte is actually the second biggest hub in the network, behind Dallas/Fort Worth, interestingly, however the vast majority of the traffic their is connecting to another destination, and not originating there. 650 flights originate there, connecting to both domestic and international destinations.
With North Carolina’s tax break on jet fuel set to expire soon, American is trying to negotiate, saving 18 million dollars. If the tax break isn’t extended, Charlotte will be the third highest cost of jet fuel, with Chicago and Los Angeles leading the way.
So, this begs the question of whether American would consider closing the Charlotte hub, if they can’t get a break on fuel. We’ve seen other airlines close hubs for similar reasons – take Delta in Cincinnati, for example.
With Chicago, they can justify the traffic. There’s a mix of local and connecting traffic, and it’s a competitive hub being located mid-way in the country. With Los Angeles, it’s a strategic gateway for international flights to Asia, and a connecting point for flights along the California coast and west. It’s doubtful they’d consider closing either of these hubs, even with the high fuel tax. Further, both cities are also hubs for other airlines, and if American pulls out, they leave the competition with a clear advantage.
But, in Charlotte, there is no competition. There’s hardly a reason for it to continue due to routings, since a majority of the European flights can depart from JFK, Philadelphia, or, even Miami.
I personally dislike the Charlotte hub, for me living outside of DC. It’s too close to me, and connecting there provides two short haul flights. I don’t like breaking up what could be non-stop flights to Florida or other designations, simply by having a half-way point. That’s more of a personal preference than a strategic one, of course.
What do you think? Do you think American would consider closing their Charlotte hub?
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