Tuesday, May 09, 2006

You can't get there from here

New York Times has an article on Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner.
The 787 is designed to carry 220 to 300 people on routes from North America to Europe and Asia. Boeing is counting on it to replace the workhorse 767, which is being phased out, and, it hopes, a few Airbus models as well. Its advantages go beyond fuel efficiency: Boeing designed the 787 to fly long distances while keeping passengers relatively comfortable.

That approach grows out of another gamble by Boeing — that the future of the airline business will be in point-to-point nonstop flights with medium-size planes rather than the current hub-and-spoke model favored by Airbus, which is developing the 550-seat A380 superjumbo as its premier long-haul jetliner. Flying point to point eliminates the need for most passengers to change planes, a competitive advantage so long as the Dreamliner is as comfortable and as fast as a bigger aircraft.
The SAML/Liberty architecture is often equated with a hub and spoke identity model - the user gets to their SPs through their IDP, the IDP is presented as some undesired interloper (think Chicago O'Hare) sitting in the middle of the actually desired interaction (getting from the East coast to the West).

Why is there an IDP in the mix? Shouldn't a user be able to simply take off from any dinky airport and land anywhere else - no need for a 'hub' in the middle.

Sounds great. But, maybe airports would be concerned about the aircraft safety processes of the various other airports that they would be expected to accept flights from. Would you want planes of unknown structural integrity landing on your nice new runways? Who is to say that their landing gear will work, or that they won't spray oil on your tower. As an Air Traffic Controller, would you accept some rickety Cessna coming in on a wing and a prayer (literally)? Maybe you would, but I bet you'd route them out to Runway 04/22R out on the edge of the field.

That said, if I never fly through O'Hare's Terminal 2 again, that will be just fine.

1 comment:

Robin Wilton said...

Hmmm. I'd question whether it's actually Airbus' own strategy that air travel should all be based on hub-and-spoke flights.

I think that's much more a case of Airbus building its strategy around the dominant existing flight topology in the US.

In Airbus' home market, the established pattern - for any aeroplane of the size they build - is for one 'hub' per country, and therefore a predominance of point-to-point long-haul flights by national carriers (or consortia thereof).