By The Numbers: Charlotte Is American’s Second-Largest Hub

Charlotte is American Airlines’ second-largest hub, with almost 9,000 weekly flights and 160 routes in mid-April. Regional jets will play a crucial role, with over six in ten flights being operated by the fleet. For American, the hub is a well-oiled machine.

American Airlines A321
The A321 is the second most popular aircraft from American Airlines’ Charlotte hub in terms of total flights. It will use them on 42 routes in the week of April 12th, with Tampa top. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

American Airlines will have 8,998 flights and 160 routes at its Charlotte hub in the week starting April 12th, analyzing OAG data shows. Flights are up significantly over 2020 and down by a reasonable 5% versus 2019.

Charlotte is American’s second-largest hub in this week, behind Dallas Fort Worth (10,226 flights), but well ahead of third-place Miami (3,764). Normally Chicago O’Hare is third, but it’s presently fourth.

American Airlines’ North Carolina hub is unusual for the carrier in that the overwhelming majority of its domestic routes – 117 of 130 – are less than 1,000 miles, roughly within a two-and-a-half-hour flying time. Its average domestic sector length is just 604 miles.

The 75-mile hop to Greenville-Spartanburg, over the border in South Carolina, is its shortest route, with 16 others under 200 miles. At 2,291 miles, San Francisco is the longest, although its non-stop service to Honolulu, coming from May 6th, will be over twice that distance.

American's routes from Charlotte
Here are 159 of American’s 160 routes from Charlotte in the week analyzed. The one not shown, for clarity reasons, is the only long-haul route in this week: Heathrow. Source: OAG

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests!

Regional jets essential at Charlotte

Everyone knows how crucial regional jets normally are at US airlines’ hubs to ensure more spokes and higher frequencies and, in turn, more competitiveness, dominance, and the higher chance of timings suiting a passenger’s needs.

Yet regional jets play an unusually important role for American Airlines at Charlotte, with 62% of its domestic flights. Only its Philadelphia hub has more. This high use means its domestic seats-per-flight to just 108 (Philadelphia: 97).

American Eagle Embraer 145
The Embraer 145 is American Eagle’s second most commonly used RJ, in total flight terms, at Charlotte. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

RJs used on 102 domestic routes

RJs by American Eagle are used on 102 of the 130 domestic routes from Charlotte, with Knoxville, Indianapolis, Harrisburg, and Myrtle Beach down to see the most. While CRJ-700s and -900s, and Embraer 145s and 175s, are all used, it is the -900 that is overwhelmingly king at Charlotte.

American Eagle CRJ-900
American Eagle’s CRJ-900s are used on nearly one-third (31%) of all domestic flights at the Charlotte hub. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia.

Very well-timed hub

There are very few other hubs in the US that have so many clear waves of flights for connections each day, in this case eight and arguably nine waves. Each wave, comprising one arrivals bank and one departure bank, lasts for about two hours.

American tends to have one hour of arrivals followed by one hour of departures. As the last of the departures go, the first arrivals in the next wave begin. It’s a very well-oiled machine. American has two joint-busiest waves on the day analyzed: 1000-1200 and 1900-2100, both with 150 flights.

American's Charlotte hub
This is for all American and American Eagle flights on April 12th. Source: OAG.

American’s 160 routes from Charlotte

Hub-to-hub flights lead American’s routes from Charlotte, with Dallas Fort Worth and Philadelphia taking the top-two spots. But there’s relatively little between these and the others in the top-20. This isn’t about where people connect, which will be the subject of a different article. This is simply the supply to/from Charlotte.

At the other end of the spectrum are American’s less-than-daily flights, of which it has 15 in this mid-April week. Almost all are international, and often on Saturday, including Antigua, Barbados, and Saint Croix. Its least-served domestic routes are Portland (Oregon) and Sacramento, both five-weekly.

American Airlines’ top-20 routes from Charlotte are shown here:

American's top routes from Charlotte
Here are American’s top-20 routes in this mid-April week. Image: OAG.

16 destinations in Florida

American Airlines serves 44 US states from Charlotte in this April week, with Florida, Texas, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania the most significant. Its network to the Sunshine State is impressive, with 16 Florida airports served – the same as Delta from Atlanta – and 680 weekly departures, up by 10% over pre-coronavirus.

American Boeing 737
American will use the B737-800 on 27 routes, with Houston #1. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The likes of Indianapolis, New York La Guardia, Richmond, and Washington National would have been on the above map in this week in 2019. But they have been replaced by obviously very strong leisure destinations, including Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, and Nashville. Fort Myers, for example, has jumped from 54th to 16th place on the ‘top route’ leaderboard.

Six new routes this year

Looking further ahead this year, American will inaugurate the following new routes from Charlotte:

  1. Honolulu: May 6th; seven-weekly
  2. Kalispell: June 5th; once-weekly
  3. Ontario: May 6th; seven-weekly
  4. Reno: June 3rd; seven-weekly
  5. Samana: June 5th; twice-weekly

What are your thoughts on the airport? Comment below!