How do you create a good Hub and Spoke System?

At the moment I am using a point to point system. I have started in Algeria which is not the best for point to point systems. How do you create a good Hub and Spoke System?



I suggest you start with one high demand route. On this route you build up a dense schedule. The key is to not choose a to large type of aircraft so that you can split the demand among a high number of flight. This master route will a) ensure you a constant cashflow for backup and b) allow attractive connections due to the dense shedule. Once you're the market leader on the route and your flight occupation is down to 86%-90% you can open a second route with the same concept.

by creating as many point to point flights where one of the airports involved is your preferred airport in Algeria, most likely Algier.

there are two "pure" approaches.

a system based on frequency and one based on waves.

in a frequency based system, you offer flights to all or most destinations at least every ( eight hours minus minimum transfer time at your airport ). Why? well, pax in AS transfer when the departure of the connection leaves an airport no more than eight hours after they arrived at that airport. Since they can only connect to flights leaving after the minimum transfer time, only flights within this window (minimum transfer time < transfer happening < eight hours) are relevant. to offer all possible connections, you can choose to connect to every destinations at least that often.

second way: you use waves. here, you have all of your aircrafts arrive at approx. the same time and have them all leave after the minimum transfer time. this way, every arriving pax can connect to all the departing flights.

the frequency version requires a lot of equipment and some routes simply do not have the demand to make this work profitable on all routes. the benefit is, that you distribute your flights throughout the day. this helps with slot congestion. also, you can keep your aircrafts in the air. and that's where they make money.

the wave system requires a lot less aircrafts, but keeps them grounded longer, as they have to wait for the wave times. also, you have to deal with slot congestion both on your end and at your destinations.

How do you create a good Hub and Spoke System?

I would connect the most important cities with your anticipated hub to generate a flow of passengers.

I found frequency based waves the best. E.g. waves every 8 hours. That creates 3 waves. Then after a master wave schedule is finished (e.g. I offer service to every 4-and more bar destination) at least two times per day (two waves) I go ahead to building mid-waves (another 3x every 8 hours) which will make a total of 6 waves (3 major waves and 3 minor waves) *** . Plus, there will be destinations that fill better then others because have substantial O/D demand, and these destinations I can schedule even to fill anywhere in the schedule. This system requires some planning and knowing the routes as to minimize downtime. I start scheduling closest to arrival cutoff point, and start scheduling departures from x.04. As slots fill, I am moving to earlier arrivals and later departures. As slots fill even more, the arrivals/departures may even cross the hour, e.g. arrival cutoff point -1 hour, and departure point + 1 hour. I am usually able to put 6 flights (3 roundtrips) on a plane in this way, including downtime.

Also one of the techniques I use, if I can get a complete maintenance window (2.01 hours), I move the departure or arrival to an earlier/later point even if it means longer connection time. This way the maintenance ratio goes down, and even if it may not be enough to fill the plane, it may reduce the maintenance cost by 10% to 20%. I use older planes and use African to extend available time-in-the air, so 10% reduction is substantial.

I try NOT to schedule longer flights which while they depart at wave time they arrive in such time they cannot make the second wave departure until after my starting building mid-waves (meaning the base 3 waves are built), unless of course such longer flights have sufficient O/D or I interline on the other end and get sufficient external pax, in which case the exact arrival does not matter. But even in such cases, if I have 8-hour between waves, I would try to schedule such flight to depart 2 hours after the wave time, have two hour turnaround at destination (maintenance window) and arrive at half-time between the two waves. This guarantees the arriving pax will still be able to make the following wave, and the wait-time is reduced to max 4 hours.

Also when you schedule flights, try the planes arriving from east to continue west and vice versa, flights arriving from south to continue north or east/west, etc.). This is quite important in the beginning you will be able to book passenger connections with minimum connection time. E.g. someone flying from Nigeria to France will more likely book on your connecting flights, than someone going from Nigeria to Ghana (your connection will be too long, and therefore much less attractive). Once you have sufficient number of flights (e.g 20-30 planes rotating) this will become less of an issue because there will be sufficient number of connections for your passengers to chose from.

*** For an airline based in the center of Europe (Germany, Switzerland, etc.), 4-times per day wave system may be best way to start (e.g. waves every 6 hours) because of relatively short stage lengths of flights within Europe in all directions (north, south, east and west).

If you base your airline in Algeria, connect important airports within North and Central Africa and even Middle East to Europe. Also go browse other servers (you can do that without basing airline there) to see what other airlines based in Algeria are doing, what routes they are flying, and at what frequency, and with which planes. This will give you some idea how to build your airline.

E.g. here are couple of examples (this one made it big, over 4000+ departures)

I hope this helps you.

Btw every player has a technique that works best for him. And even one technique of a player may not be best for the same player while managing airline in a different hub. E.g. My technique is best for centralized location of the hub. If your hub is in a "corner" location a different technique may be necessary.

So lets say I have my hub times as:

00:00 departures for International flights

02:00 departures for Regional flights

06:30 - 07:00 arrivals both times

8:00 departures for International flights

10:00 departures for Regional flights

15:30 - 16:00 arrivals both times

17:00 departures for International 

19:00 departures for Regional

22:30 - 23:00 arrivals both times.

However this would mean there would be no maintenance?

Thanks for the replies,


if you go with a wave system (or any other way), you have to schedule the individual aircrafts to meet your desired arrival and departure times and have the single aircrafts to stay on the ground long enough for maintenance.

BlueYoda, I will upload a file for you to my Dropbox with the screenshots of my first five planes' schedules I did when I started an airline on one of the older servers in USA. Check your PM and download the files. You will see how to combine wave arrivals, departures, and maintenance time.

@yukawa: I like your footnote :)


However this would mean there would be no maintenance?

During the scheduling f an aircraft you will see the maintenance-ratio which should be above 100%.

Btw you have a nice avatar. I love donkeys :) .

I've found waves to be very effective in an established market like Europe on an old server. The main thing is making the right decision on the hub airport because the slot situation is nasty in the big markets like Europe, North America and North Asia. It does mean that aircraft utilisation is a little high, but I find it clear and straightforward. If for example your hub is Stuttgart, in your first few flights I'd imagine Frankfurt and Berlin would be key, and their slot availability may help design your initial hub operations. 

The other disadvantage with the wave system is that your initial first flights in a wave dictate, in a way, where you can fly to. My initial wave was very much in an eastbound line from Western France to Northern Italy, which is great and does well, but I didn't leave enough time to add airports like Frankfurt, London or Amsterdam into this wave because the turnaround times and slot availability make it impossible. So that sucks, but I can't be arsed re-doing my entire schedule for 2 or 3 routes and it can be fixed when I start to build my next wave once this one is full- however I wish I'd worked that out at the beginning.