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Airline Scheduling and Planning Factors Essay (Article)

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Updated: Jun 30th, 2020

Airline schedule planners must balance the major internal and external factors affecting flight scheduling. The schedule planners seek to provide the best service to the public while maintaining a stable financial position for the airline (Wensveen, 2011).

Internal Factors

Equipment Maintenance

All aircraft in an airline’s fleet should have an individual maintenance-routing plan. The separate plan ensures that all aircraft are provided with personnel and facilities for routine/emergency checks at strategic stations.

Crews

Flight schedule planners should ensure that the cabin crew and flight attendants have adequate training to fly a variety of routes before planning a schedule. All crew routings should be maximized efficiently. Moreover, planners need to allocate enough resting time for the crew.

Facilities

All facilities that make a flight possible should be utilized efficiently and expanded to cope with the growing demand. Gate space, terminal capacity, waiting areas, cargo handling facilities, ticket counters, aprons, runways and navigation aids should all be optimized efficiently to minimize delays.

Marketing Factors

An airline schedule planner must consider the market size, total trip time, time zones, and the location of an airport vis a vis the market served.

External Factors

Other factors like variations in weather patterns affect the fleet timetable. Cargo shippers and a country’s postal service have individual schedule preferences that affect an airline’s schedule planning. Airport authorities also seek to minimize traffic during certain hours, which affects an airline schedule. The authorities allocate slots (quotas) to carriers evenly to prevent congestion during peak hours. Local communities’ protests against early morning and late night departures, and hotels’ check-in and check-out preferences also affect scheduling. The airline schedule planner has to take all these factors into consideration to maximize revenue and provide quality service.

Major airline terminals are crowded and chaotic at times while nearly empty at others? Why is this and what can be done to relieve terminal and airport congestion?

One of the major concerns in aviation is airport congestion. Eradicating airport congestion is a primary concern for most airlines and airport authorities. Airport congestion can be attributed to various factors, including airport and airline factors (Forsyth, 2006).

Causes of Airport Congestion

Limited Passenger Facilities

Air travel is a major trend in the contemporary world. Air travel is fast, convenient and cheap in the case of low-cost carriers. The reduced fare increases demand for air travel, causing congestion in departure lounges, check-in counters, and other terminal facilities.

Limited Airline Facilities

Increased demand for air travel prompts airlines to increase the number of fleet and flights, which causes congestion in airports that lack proper facilities like runways, apron, taxiways, and sufficient slots. An airport with limited facilities cannot handle the number of flights during peak hours, causing congestion.

Limited Cargo Facilities

Some airlines and airports handle both passenger and freight services under one roof. Limited cargo facilities cause flight delays because of the total time lost sorting cargo and luggage. Other airports lack enough cargo handling facilities, causing congestion and delay.

Hub and Spoke System

A hub and spoke network creates a multiplier effect that increases the number of routes an airline can serve. As a result, the hub becomes congested because of increased traffic.

Solutions to Airport Congestion

Allocation of Slots

Busy airports should allocate slots to airlines to reduce congestion. Slots (quotas) are granted to a carrier as rights to operate a schedule within a specific timeframe. The slots prevent more carriers from operating flights at the same time.

Congestion-Based Pricing of Landing Fees

The congested airports should implement a fee structure that discourages congestion at particular times of the day. Airlines would be forced to minimize marginal costs, hence landing at times when airports are less congested.

Expansion

Expansion of an airport involves the construction and expansion of additional terminals, runways, and cargo facilities. Increasing the number of slots also reduces congestion. Expansion enables an airport to provide adequate passenger, cargo, and airline facilities, facilitating efficient air travel.

Reference List

Forsyth, P. (2006). The impact of emerging aviation trends on airport infrastructure. Journal of Air Transport Management, 13(1), 45-52.

Wensveen, J. (2011). Principles of Airline Scheduling. In Air Transportation: A Management Perspective. (7th ed., pp. 359-388). Farnham, England: Ashgate.

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