A recently published report by MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation documents the trend of US Airlines to reduce the number of flights to airports throughout our nation.
Since 2007, the 29 largest hub airports lost 8.8 percent of their yearly scheduled domestic flights in the six years ending in 2012, and smaller airports with scheduled airline traffic experienced a reduction of 21.3 percent in their activities. The steadily changing character of scheduled flights results from major air carriers reducing frequency to large hubs and removing direct flights to smaller and medium-sized communities, according to the authors of MIT’s Small Community Air Service White Paper No. 1, distributed early this month.
Acknowledging that the years since 2007 have been challenging for the Airlines as management dealt with a troubled economy and volatile fuel prices, MIT researchers Michael Wittman and William Swelbar attribute the trend toward reduced flights to a strategy they call “capacity discipline”, whereby managers chose to adjust capacity in favor of generating higher load factors and correspondingly higher yields per flight. Major air carriers reduced their frequency of flights to large hubs and removed direct service to smaller airports, which disproportionally impacted service levels to small- and medium-sized communities.