September 19, 2018

Chicago O'Hare Ranks As the Most Connected Airport in U.S. for Third Straight Year

American Airlines controls market share at five of the top 10 U.S. megahubs

Key Findings:
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) is the most connected airport in the U.S. and the second most connected in the world.
  • American Airlines' hub - Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW) - rank third and fourth in U.S. connectivity, respectively.
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) ranks second in domestic connectivity and seventh internationally.
  • London Heathrow (LHR) is the most internationally connected airport in the world - beating out O'Hare by 27 Connectivity Index points.

OAG released its Megahubs U.S. Index 2018, revealing the top 25 most connected airports in the U.S. for domestic services. Complimenting the Megahubs International Index 2018, the U.S. edition takes account of the unique nature of the U.S. aviation market, focusing on domestic connectivity.

Chicago O'Hare (ORD) is once again the most connected airport in domestic connectivity, topping the second-place finisher - Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) - by 83 points. Despite finishing first in 2017, O'Hare continued to add destinations in 2018, and increased its Connectivity Index (CI) by 24 points this year.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL; CI: 396) finished second in the U.S. and seventh in International Connectivity. Atlanta finished with a domestic Connectivity Index of 396, six points higher than last year. Charlotte Douglas (CLT) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) rank third and fourth with a Connectivity Index of 236 and 228.

While location is an important characteristic for airport connectivity, the presence of strong domestic carriers is also vital. American Airlines controls market share at five of the top 10 U.S. megahubs, including a 90 percent share of flights at Charlotte Douglas (CLT; CI:236). Among low-cost carriers (LCCs), Southwest Airlines continued to increase its presence in the top 25, and now controls 93 percent of market share at Chicago Midway (MDW, ranked 17th), 89 percent at Dallas Love Field (DAL, ranked 19th) and 64 percent at Baltimore Washington (BWI, ranked 25th).

"Legacy carriers - American, Delta and United - dominated market share at the top 10 U.S. megahubs this year," said John Grant, senior analyst of OAG. "Looking for every competitive advantage possible, airlines continue to push the boundaries on connectivity for their customers - and today, that requires a strong megahub presence."

Additional findings from OAG's U.S. Megahub Index include:

  • Los Angeles Airport (LAX) ranks seventh in U.S. connectivity, increasing its number of potential flight connections within a three-hour window by 20 percent over 2018. United Airlines and American Airlines were the primary drivers of domestic growth at LAX, both adding frequency to existing routes.
  • Two airports made significant jumps in OAG's 2018 index: Philadelphia Airport (PHL) improved from 14th to 10th and New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) jumped from 24th to 14th.
  • The smallest airport in the top 25 list this year is Hawaii's Kahului Airport (OGG). The airport manages a high ratio of potential connections to its domestic destinations.

Globally, London Heathrow (LHR) ranks as the most internationally connected airport with a Connectivity Index of 333 points, followed by Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Frankfurt (FRA) and Amsterdam (AMS).

"Megahubs are incredibly important for the global travel ecosystem. They increase efficiency, competition and choice, and most importantly, create a boundary-less world for travelers," said Grant.

The connectivity data measured by OAG goes beyond the size of an airport's route network and measures the number of connections possible within a specific time frame and the relative attractiveness of each airport as a connecting point for scheduled domestic air passengers.

The megahubs indices harness the world's most comprehensive schedules database to dynamically build connections through a dedicated analytics platform, Connections Analyser, and is further enhanced by OAG's Minimum Connection Time Exceptions Table. OAG has calculated the total number of all possible domestic connections between inbound and outbound flights within a six-hour window, on the busiest day for global aviation for the 12 months through July 2018.

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