Airline Economies Back and Fill

Air Travel

Created on: August 17, 2018

Updated on: April 20, 2019

The next time you wait for your flight, have you ever wondered why that particular plane was selected for your journey. As you may know I enjoy flying and even though I haven’t flown recently I enjoy figuring out the why?

The last time I took a long-haul flight was when I was travelling back from Lagos, Nigeria I had been in West Africa for over a month and I had stayed with friends and family back in 2014.

Waiting In The Airport

I was waiting in Murtala Mohammed Airport and then all of a sudden, I could see lots of passengers bowing and I then walked up close by and then I realised that the former president Olusegun Obasanjo was boarding a British Airways flight to London.

I was waiting for an Air France flight to Paris at the time and I walked up towards the gate and I saw the Boeing 747 jet that BA were using to transport passengers to London. I kept thinking to myself wow! this must be a very lucrative route to use and then I started to think about the types of plane used on the various routes around the world.

Do you remember in my previous article on Etorps? I discussed the fact that it took a long time for a two-engine jetliner to get approval for it to fly to destinations over the Atlantic to the US.

Well a similar sort of thing has been happening regarding the type of plane that is used by airlines. Let’s take a look at American Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the world by volume. Currently they do not use the A380 at all on their routes and one of the reasons why is because they use the point to point model for their flights.

What Is The Point ?

This means that American Airlines flies between two cities directly and one of the main reasons why they do this is because American don’t have many hubs dotted around the US. Passengers from Dallas, Texas can fly direct to London without have to change planes at a hub. This means that the passengers can save time when they travel to another part of the world or the US. And in some parts of the world bad weather is prevalent and if they used the hub and spoke model and if there was a delay on a particular leg of the journey. The airline would have to pay our more money to make sure that the passengers were fed and watered.

What Is Hub & Spoke ?

Let’s take a look at the other side of the coin and this is the hub and spoke model this is mainly used by legacy carriers such as Air France. I was booked on to a flight to London via Paris. Let’s imagine that I am holding a bicycle wheel and say for example the centre of the wheel where all of those spokes meet is Paris Charles De Gaulle. On my return journey, I travelled there and I changed flights to board a flight to London.


One of the benefits of this arrangement is the fact that each flight takes up less slots so Air France can reduce its costs in take-off and landing fees. There is a central place where the crew can be located this results in a reduction in seat mileage and more crucially this means that those airlines can use larger planes.

Air France has slightly lower traffic on this route and they use an A340 that takes up roughly 300 passengers. British Airways has slightly more traffic on that route and it is able to use a bigger plane for that journey.

However, one of the main downfalls of this model is the fact that you have to constantly expand the hub in order to offer a greater number of destinations. And in the UK, this means that London Heathrow has to expand and grow.

The problem is that Heathrow is in the wrong place and the surrounding areas are extremely built up on one side we have the Queens land i.e. Windsor and on the other we have Hayes, Harlington & Uxbridge and below it Hounslow and lots of people live in these areas.

I think it would be a good idea if it was scaled down instead of scaling up because there is only so much housing that you can knock down.

I really enjoyed writing this article, and if you get a minute why don’t you take a peek at my Instagram account. @TheDiverseCoder.