Remembering Airline Hubs of Days Past

by Anthony Losanno
Empty Airport

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Airline hubs are airports where an airline has a significant presence. These airports are used as transfer points for connecting flights. They are typically the airline’s bases of operations and serve as the focal points for its route network. Passengers traveling on the airline can transfer between flights at the hub airport to reach their final destination, even if the airline does not offer non-stop service between those two locations. While your mind might immediately think of ATL for Delta or SFO for United, what about the former hubs that US carriers used to call home? Here is a list of hubs that are no more.


Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

This airport is located in Hebron, KY and was once a Delta Air Lines hub. In 2017, Delta downgraded the hub to a focus city. In 2020, Delta closed its pilot and flight attendant bases and dropped CVG as a focus city, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is located in Cleveland, OH. It is the 43rd busiest airport in the US by passenger numbers and was one of Continental Airlines’ hubs. After the merger with United Airlines in 2010, the airport was no longer considered a hub. Even with this change, it still has a flight attendant and pilot base as well as maintenance facilities at the airport.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is a legacy American Airlines hub, but at one time it was also one of Delta’s hubs. Delta reduced its 250 daily flights to 21 daily departures and de-hubbed DFW in 2005. At the time the airline was not doing well financially and cuts were necessary.


Memphis International Airport (MEM)

Delta Air Lines also used to have a hub in Memphis. This ceased to be classified as one in 2013 after first serving as a hub for Republic Airlines (which merged with Northwest Orient Airways) and later the rebranded Northwest Airlines, which was eventually acquired by Delta in 2008. The airline preferred its Atlanta hub and that was the end of Memphis’ hub status.


Miami International Airport (MIA)

Miami International Airport currently serves as one of American Airlines hubs. It used to also be a hub for United Airlines. United ended flights from Miami to South America and shut down its crew base in 2004. It then moved most of the Miami resources to its main hub at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).


Narita International Airport (NRT)

Tokyo’s Narita International Airport was once a hub for both United Airlines and Delta Air Lines. In 2020, due to the pandemic, United closed its hub at Narita. But, Delta was the first to drop this hub when it started flying less to Narita. It lacked a partner carrier for connections in Japan and changed its strategy for serving Asia.


Nashville International Airport (BNA)

American Airlines made Nashville International Airport a hub in 1985. It operated 265 daily departures to 79 cities at its peak in 1993. It was losing money throughout the 1990s and in 1995, American decided to take away its hub status.


Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)

US Airways had a hub in Pittsburgh, but after declaring chapter 11 bankruptcy twice it abandoned Pittsburgh in 2004.  This eliminated thousands of jobs and saw the $1 billion terminal built largely for the airline quietly decline.


Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)

American Airlines began serving the airport with 11 daily flights in 1985. At one point, it had 95 daily mainline flights and an 166 daily flights on American Eagle planes. Its destinations included international cities like London, Paris, Bermuda, and Cancun. In 1994, RDU lost its hub status.

St. Louis

St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)

TWA had its main hub at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. American acquired TWA in 2001. In 2009, American announced that it would close its St. Louis hub and cut its 200 daily flights to 36 by summer 2010.

Anthony’s Take: Frequent flyers know the many hubs scattered across the US and the world. But, there are many cities that used to hold hub status. It’s a fascinating look at commercial aviation history to stop and reflect on those that are no longer hubs and how the airlines have evolved since those days.

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derek April 18, 2023 - 2:01 am

Full of hubs abandoned.
Colorado Springs – Western Pacific
Kansas City – Braniff (2nd Braniff), Vanguard
Syracuse – Empire
Columbus, Ohio – America West
Las Vegas – America West
Reno – American and also Reno Air, acquired by American
Raleigh – Midway
Chicago Midway – Midway Metrolink
Milwaukee – Midwest Express
Dayton – Piedmont then USAir
Baltimore – Piedmont then USAir
Paris – TWA
Frankfurt – Pan Am and Delta

Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Anthony Losanno April 18, 2023 - 2:14 pm

Thanks for the thorough list.

Dwight April 18, 2023 - 11:21 am

Thanks Derek. Anthony is obviously new to the industry and does not know aviation consolidation beyond 10yrs.

Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Anthony Losanno April 18, 2023 - 2:14 pm

I never said the list was conclusive.


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