Browse Projects > Detailed View

Origin/Destination (O&D) and Connecting Passenger Impact on the Nationwide Airport and Air Traffic Control System



Based on FAA 2008-2025 Forecasts, 30% of 696.2M total U.S. domestic enplaning passengers connected to other flights. There were 487M originating passengers of which the 209M connections were counted twice in establishing total enplanements. This means only 278M passengers had non-stop flights. Average connections at the ten busiest hubs are almost 60%. International passengers increased enplanements to 776.5 and represented 9.6% of total enplanements. International passengers are processed as origination/destination passengers since after they clear customs they reclaim and recheck bags, get re-ticketed with boarding passes, clear security checkpoints the same as originating passengers or depart the airport.


The cost to airlines and airports for processing O&D and connecting passengers is significantly different. Connecting domestic passengers rarely leave the airside area to avoid delays and inconvenience associated with re-entering through security checkpoints. O&D passengers require all airport facilities including highway and rail access systems, parking, rental cars, surface transportation (limos, taxi’s and buses), ticketing, bag processing and security clearances and vertical and horizontal moving systems in passenger terminals. Federal funds are distributed based on total enplanements that do not distinguish between connecting and originating passengers. 


Based on the above, the near and long-term impact of origin/destination (O&D) and connecting passengers on nationwide airport and air traffic operations, capacity, funding and development is significant, especially since airlines have abandoned connecting operations at major hubs like Pittsburg, St. Louis and DFW and reduced connections at other locations affecting ATC staffing requirements. At several major airports where high levels of connecting operations have ceased, ATC workload has been reduced by 75%.         




Produce a report addressing the developing trend of hub and spoke operations impacted by the changing pattern of connectivity of domestic and international origin and destination passengers, cargo and mail including package services. Abandoning and relocating connections to other hubs, mergers, airline ceasing operations, open skies agreements have a significant impact on hub and spoke connecting activities.


The report will be useful in planning, funding and developing near and long-term airfield, terminal and staffing air traffic control facilities. It will be useful to legislators and other elected officials, airport operators and authorities, airlines, federal agencies, financial institutions and those who establish policies and programs and determine funding priorities for system operations and expansion.




Research activities will be gathering O&D and connecting passenger, cargo and mail traffic data related to hub and spoke operations from all segments of the industry. Data will be analyzed and studied to evaluate near and long-term trends and the potential impact on the aviation system caused by hub and spoke connecting operations. Coordination and comments from aviation industry, FAA and other federal agencies will be conducted to obtain consensus of findings and recommendations.   




            The project can be completed for $300,000 or less. Those proposing this will provide

expert manpower assistance and involvement because of their significant background experience.


Due to the significant potential impact on local, state, federal, legislative and industry actions the, a final report should be produced within 6 months.




Language is now included in AIP Reauthorization legislation (Section 115) that requires FAA to prepare a study within one year related to O&D and connecting passengers processing costs that impact Passengers Facility Charges (PFC’s).


Cities are being significantly impacted both operationally and financially by elimination or reduction of connecting activities. Development plans to expand airfields and terminals could be affected by more knowledge of hub and spoke connecting activities. A report like this should have been done several years ago by other federal agencies but in the absence of this, TRB should act immediately to initiate and complete this report. Pittsburg and St. Louis are severely underutilized airports after connecting activity was stopped. Pittsburg is using only 15% of its airfield and terminal capacity.


There are no institutional, political or socio-economic barriers to implementing findings in the study. The report will inform those impacted but any decision to act on the findings of the report will be left to others.                




A search reveals no other studies or reports have been completed or are being prepared to address this issue. 


Sponsoring Committee:AV020, Aviation System Planning

Discussion and recommendations contained herein were prepared by staff of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority that operates Orlando International Airport (OIA). OIA is the 4th busiest O&D airport in the U.S. behind Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas. OIA is the largest tourist destination in the world. The State of Florida is the 2nd busiest in U.S. in O&D passengers. Orlando and the State are significant financial contributors to federal trust funds since O&D passengers pay ticket taxes that goes to the fund that connecting passengers to not pay. Connecting passengers pay PFC’s at the originating and connecting airport while non-stop passengers pay a single PFC at their originating airport.

This problem presented in this paper is the product of GOAA staff under the direction of the following person who is submitting this paper.


Robert Gilbert
Deputy Executive Director, Facilities
Greater Orlando Aviation Authority
Orlando International Airport
One Airport Blvd
Orlando, Florida 32827

Telephone 407-825-2461
E-mail: BGilbert@goaa.org

Date Submitted: April 29, 2008
Date Posted:08/03/2008
Date Modified:08/04/2008
Index Terms:Air transportation, Air transportation facilities, Connecting flights, Connecting passengers, Enplanements, Origin and destination, International airports, International transportation, Air traffic control, Hub and spoke systems,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Administration and Management
Operations and Traffic Management
Planning and Forecasting
Terminals and Facilities

Please click here if you wish to share information or are aware of any research underway that addresses issues in this research needs statement. The information may be helpful to the sponsoring committee in keeping the statement up-to-date.