Revenue and operational impacts of depeaking flights at hub airports

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Katz, Donald Samuel
Garrow, Laurie A.
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Post deregulation, many U.S. airlines created hubs with banked schedules, however, in the past decade these same airlines began to experiment with depeaking their schedules to reduce costs and improve operational performance. To date there has been little research that has investigated revenue and operational shifts associated with depeaked schedules; yet understanding the trade-offs among revenue, costs, and operational performance at a network level is critical before airlines will consider future depeaking and related congestion-management strategies. This study develops data cleaning and analysis methodologies based on publicly available data that are used to quantify airport-level and network-level revenue and operational changes associated with schedule depeaking. These methodologies are applied to six case studies of airline depeaking over the past decade. Results show that depeaking is associated with revenue per available seat mile (RASM) increasing slower than the rest of the network and the industry as a whole. Depeaking is associated with improved operations for both the depeaking airlines and competitors. Airports benefit from increases in non-aeronautical sales associated with connecting passengers spending more time in the terminal. The underlying reasons driving airlines' scheduling decisions during depeaking vary greatly by case. Results from the study provide insights for airlines that are considering depeaking and the airports which are affected. The results suggest that losses in RASM and no improvement in operations could potentially lead an airline to repeak, and that RASM is prone to fall when a strong competitive threat exists.
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