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World’s most-connected airports revealed

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Written by editor

CHICAGO, IL – According to new analysis from OAG, the global leader in air travel intelligence and analytical services, Megahubs are transforming the way that we connect and travel around the planet.

CHICAGO, IL – According to new analysis from OAG, the global leader in air travel intelligence and analytical services, Megahubs are transforming the way that we connect and travel around the planet.

Selected major hub airports are now rapidly growing into Megahubs as expanded international connectivity, airline consolidation, larger aircraft types and the growing desire for air travel have created these world-leading facilities. And North American airports are leading the aviation industry in their development as they capitalize on their geographic and market advantage.

OAG’s Megahubs Index 2015 reveals the 50 most-connected airports in the world, as measured by the ratio of scheduled connections to the number of destinations served by the airport. OAG’s analysis found that the U.S. is the global leader in Megahubs, with 22 of the 50 most connected airports in the world, eight of which rank in the top 10. Following the U.S. is China, home to three of the top 50 Megahubs.

“As the aviation market evolves, the importance of well-connected Megahubs continues to increase for airports, airlines and travelers,” said John Grant, senior analyst at OAG. “Airlines have refined their operating models, with airport hubs shifting in parallel, to more efficiently handle the increasing demand for air travel. We expect the Megahub model will become even more prevalent across the world as major cities add more runways and airport infrastructure to accommodate increased capacity.”

According to the analysis, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (ATL) is the world’s largest Megahhub. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is the third largest Megahub and the second fastest growing Megahub in the world. OAG’s Index indicates that location is critical to the growth of these Megahubs, as ATL, DFW and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) are all centrally located within the U.S., acting as bridges between East and West for domestic air traffic.

Megahub airports benefit from both a large number of inbound and outbound flights and well-timed airline schedules. These hubs are critical to global airline efficiency and play an essential role in providing travelers with more options for ticket costs, flight frequencies and available destinations.

“As Megahubs continue to increase in size and scope, understanding connectivity becomes increasingly critical to airlines,” said Grant. “From a commercial point of view, airports need a comprehensive picture of connectivity to understand where they have gaps and how to most efficiently handle projected increases in passenger traffic.”

Contributing to the growth of Megahubs are low-cost carriers and the rise in self-connecting passengers. While connections have traditionally been made between airlines through code sharing agreements, today, passengers are increasingly self-connecting between low-cost carriers. In fact, many airports, such as Chicago Midway (MDW), Baltimore Washington International (BWI) and Las Vegas McCarran International (LAS), are beginning to facilitate connections between low-cost flights for the traveler.

Six of the world’s top 10 low-cost Megahubs are located in the U.S. and all of them have low-cost airline operations dominated by Southwest Airlines, the original low-cost carrier. MDW is the global leader in this low-cost Megahub category – identified by OAG as the airport with the most online connections (i.e. connections between the same carrier) for low-cost airlines.

Globally, many regions are placing an emphasis on connectivity in an effort to drive increased local traffic, including trade and cargo routes to the city. One example is Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST), which now ranks 29th in the Megahub Index and is the fastest growing Megahub on the list. In fact, on its busiest day in 2015, IST had four times the number of connections, or over 100,000 more, than its busiest day five years ago.