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Airline consolidation and the distribution of traffic between primary and secondary hubs

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  • Bilotkach, Volodymyr
  • Fageda, Xavier
  • Flores-Fillol, Ricardo

Abstract

Several airline consolidation events have recently been completed both in Europe and in the United States. The model we develop considers two airlines operating hub-and-spoke networks, using different hubs to connect the same spoke airports. We assume the airlines to be vertically differentiated, which allows us to distinguish between primary and secondary hubs. We conclude that this differentiation in air services becomes more accentuated after consolidation, with an increased number of flights being channeled through the primary hub. However, congestion can act as a brake on the concentration of flight frequency in the primary hub following consolidation. Our empirical application involves an analysis of Delta's network following its merger with Northwest. We find evidence consistent with an increase in the importance of Delta's primary hubs at the expense of its secondary airports. We also find some evidence suggesting that the carrier chooses to divert traffic away from those hub airports that were more prone to delays prior to the merger, in particular New York's JFK airport.

Suggested Citation

  • Bilotkach, Volodymyr & Fageda, Xavier & Flores-Fillol, Ricardo, 2013. "Airline consolidation and the distribution of traffic between primary and secondary hubs," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 951-963.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:regeco:v:43:y:2013:i:6:p:951-963
    DOI: 10.1016/j.regsciurbeco.2013.09.013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bilotkach, Volodymyr & Lakew, Paulos Ashebir, 2014. "On sources of market power in the airline industry: Panel data evidence from the US airports," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 288-305.
    2. Fageda, Xavier, 2014. "What hurts the dominant airlines at hub airports?," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 177-189.
    3. Vaze, Vikrant & Luo, Tian & Harder, Reed, 2017. "Impacts of airline mergers on passenger welfare," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 130-154.
    4. Fageda, Xavier & Flores-Fillol, Ricardo, 2016. "How do airlines react to airport congestion? The role of networks," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 73-81.
    5. Bilotkach, Volodymyr & Hüschelrath, Kai, 2015. "Balancing competition and cooperation: Evidence from transatlantic airline markets," ZEW Discussion Papers 15-059, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Primary hub; Secondary hub; Airport congestion; Airline consolidation; Airline networks;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General
    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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