October 7, 2013
It seems pretty obvious that metropolises that host major air transport hubs (e.g., Atlanta, Dallas, or Chicago) enjoy major economic advantages over metropolises that don't, such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Milwaukee. All else being equal, if you are a frequent flyer, you would prefer to live in a metropolis that offers numerous direct flights, rather than having to change planes constantly in Atlanta and other privileged places.
This must have been studied a million times, but I'm not familiar with what rules of thumb have been discovered about which cities tend to become the winners in the air hub competition.
So, here's a theory based on my limited and extremely out of date experience with business travel. Maybe having an airport convenient to the white collar part of the metropolis helps. For example, Chicago’s old Midway airport was built in the middle of the industrial, polluted, smelly (stockyards and slaughterhouses) southwest side.
But then, mighty O’Hare was built out in the northwest. The wind tends to blow from the north in Chicago, so the wealthy long ago moved out of the South Side for the north side. O’Hare thus turned out to be relatively convenient for the upper middle class.
In contrast, Cincinnati’s main airport is way out in the sticks in Kentucky. I presume business travelers tend to live on the Ohio side of the metropolis, so they probably don’t find the airport’s location as convenient as they would hope in a small metropolis.
Unfortunately, those are the only examples I can think of.
By Steve Sailer on 10/07/2013