US feeder airlines: Industry structure, networks and performance

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This paper examines the US airline industry in terms of the relationships between the three largest full service carriers, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines, and the set of regional carriers that are contracted to provide feeder services to them. The evolution of the regional carriers and the full service carriers are compared and recorded and the current industry structure and size is described. The paper uses the full set of Official Airline Guide (OAG) schedules for 2017 to analyse the industry structure and scale, overlap and seasonality in service provision among the groups of carriers and to understand the network organisation and capacity deployment strategy of the largest network carriers in the US market. The analysis provides evidence to explain how the large airlines are improving their cost and financial performance as well as significantly improving their operational efficiency through the achievement of high overall load factors. The sophistication in each airline’s schedule design and service delivery is highlighted.

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