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How Do Airlines Determine Aircraft For Each Route?  
User currently offlineBOEING747400 From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 319 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 10166 times:

I'm wondering how do airlines decide which aircraft to operate on each particular route? Also, is the registration number of the aircraft a factor in this decision or not? Thanks.

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLMML 14/32 From Malta, joined Jan 2001, 2565 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 10131 times:

There is a mechanism called "Yield Management" which basically means making the most of the available capacity by matching the capacity with demand. It is a very compicated business really, but airlines know their passenger and route profiles well and this helps to obtain the most reasonable match. When this match fails either flights go empty or are overbooked.

Registration is important for flight planning and load control purposes. It is also important for spotters !!

Hope this helps


User currently offlineAndreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 31
Reply 2, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 10123 times:

Each airline does have a department that does the planning of routes and aircraft. basically it is done as you would expect it to be done:
1. determine if a certain route would be economically sensibel, if yes
2. find the suitable aircraft: first of all, technological aspects...it doesn't make sense to use A320 on a non-stop transpacific route (well it would work, but you'd spend about 3 days over the ocean), then, make projections on the possible number of paxes you'd expect, then, decide which aircraft it will be.
LH, for example, normally uses A340 on longhauls, where they are not sure about the pax acceptance, if it works out well, they switch over to 744 (example: FRA-Dubai).
The whole thing is done by computer, of course, though I've seen pics, how this was done 30 years ago: Large walls full of charts and little aircraft symbols...must have been hard work, not only in terms of thinking but also bodily work *ggg*.

Regards

Andreas

btw: I don't see any connection between registration and routes an aircraft would fly!



I know it's only VfB but I like it!
User currently offlineAirmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 377 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 10107 times:

Very interesting, sounds like just the type of work I'd like in an airline, what does one have to study to apply for this post, what are the other requirements?


.....up there with the best!
User currently offlineSkymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 10044 times:

btw: I don't see any connection between registration and routes an aircraft would fly!

Unless a limited number of airplanes from a single type have a different configuration or equipment fit to the rest of the fleet (in which case those with the different configuration may be scheduled onto specific routes), the specific airplane registration used on each route is not a consideration in advanced schedule planning.

However, registration can be a big issue when departure date gets closer, because airlines normally don't want to empty-ferry aircraft to maintenance bases. Getting specific airplanes (registrations) into particular stations for maintenance checks can involve some careful planning, and at the point when that planning is done engineering often interacts with operations to make sure specific registrations are put and kept on particular patterns.

Andy


User currently offlineAndreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 31
Reply 5, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 10043 times:

...that's what I meant...maybe I misinterpreted the original question... I just believe, that basically a carrier chooses the best-fitting aircraft of course without sending it around empty, and the "name" of the aircraft is certainly not part of that decision, but once it is decided, the whole planning process is done via registration!

Regards

Andreas



I know it's only VfB but I like it!
User currently offlineSkymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 10023 times:

Schedule planning is usually done by aircraft type/configuration/equipment. Once the schedule is fairly settled, aircraft routings will be prepared but at the advanced stage the patterns will usually just be allocated to something like "757 number-1", "757 number-2" etc. These patterns may also take into consideration pre-planned maintenance, and allow the airline to make sure that they have enough airplanes available to meet the schedule commitments. However, registrations are usually not allocated at this stage.

In the airline I worked for, engineering usually allocated registrations / tail numbers to specific patterns (e.g. G-ABCD to "757 pattern-1"), usually about a week in advance. The basis for these allocations were issues like each aircraft's hours available before a check versus utilistation required on each pattern, ability to swap airplanes between patterns at hubs, and the need to route specific airplanes into maintenance bases for planned maintenace inputs without having to ferry them empty.

Long haul operations usually have registrations assigned to patterns further in advance, simply because the patterns are longer and the ability to swap airplanes around is more limited.

Andy


User currently offlineAndreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 31
Reply 7, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 10014 times:

...2 more questions from me:
1. What sort of PC equipment is used or better, how extensive is the network needed to do that sort of planning?
2. How much reserve do carriers usually use, that is, if one aircraft is not where it should be at a certain time or the aircraft is there but no crew (thia happened to me several times with LH in FRA, on friday evenings, though FRA is their base headquarter and there must be thousands of crews living close-by on stand-by, should something happen?
I know there is a contradiction between economics and reliability...I'd be interested how this conflict is usually solved!
Thank you
Andreas



I know it's only VfB but I like it!
User currently offlineB727-200 From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 1051 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 9955 times:

BOEING747400,

As has been covered in parts above, it depends greatly on what stage of the planning you are at. Planning can be broken up into long-term, seasonal (IATA seasons), short term and operational horizons.

Long Term:
This is more the 18 month + horizon, and focuses on high level route requirements and long term fleet issues (lease, buy, divest, renew leases, etc..). It will also be in this planning that new routes would be added or non-performing routes written out of the plan.

Seasonal:
This breaks the planning down into IATA seasons (2 per year), which are literally daylight saving and non-daylight saving times. Most airlines plan 3 seasons out, creating a base schedule for each. A base schedule is a weeks snapshot of the schedule to be put in place, allocating aircraft type, flight numbers, frequency and times to the route network (but not actual tail numbers). This is often what the published timetables are generated from, which is why they are nearly always wrong.

Airlines also often create sub-seasons within seasons to cater for periods of different travel patterns (such as Christmas-New Year).

Short Term:
This is where things start to get a bit more detailed. A short-term schedule may represent a months flying, and is a modification of the base schedule for that period. A months flying would be worked on about three months in advance.

The purpose of this planning horizon is to cater for any specific demand patters that might be evident, and adjusting the base schedule accordingly (down to an individual day if necessary). It is also when the planning introduces heavy maintenance requirements and crewing rosters, which means actual tail numbers are being used at this stage.

Operational Schedule:
This is when everything you have done to this point goes out the window and things start happening in real time. The schedule is handed over to operations about a week before the operating date, where they can do the last minute changes for maintenance or day-of-operation requirements. This is supposed to be performed without destroying the integrity of the original schedule (he laughs uncontrollably)


Other Factors:
As mentioned above, sometimes airlines have a fleet of one aircraft type but with different specs within the fleet type (eg. You may have 20 B737-800's but only 8 are ETOPS). Most scheduling systems will allow the planner to create a sub-fleet for these differences so that you don't need to schedule by tail number months out from the operation (for example, B738 used for the standard and, say, B73E for the ETOPS ones).

For the computer systems, small airlines can get away with desktop applications, but larger airlines need much larger equipment. The larger airlines would use mainframe or Unix platforms to house their scheduling systems, not just for the size and grunt, but the physical coverage, flexibility, and communicative aspects of the system. For large airlines, the scheduling system usually needs to be accessed at multiple location, and be able to interface with reservations, crewing, yield management and complex forecasting applications.

Oh, LMML - Yield Managers would like to think that they and their systems call the shots on the schedule, but fortunately they don't  Big thumbs up . You will find that schedules planning would gather the information to perform capacity management during the various stages of schedule preparation. It is then up to the poor buggers in yield management using the yield management system to determine how the hell they are going to fill the aircraft, whilst at the same time maximizing revenue.

Hope this helps without confusing the hell out of you.

B727-200.


User currently offlineAndreas From Germany, joined Oct 2001, 6104 posts, RR: 31
Reply 9, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 9918 times:

...Thanks a lot, and no, you did not confuse me!

Regards

Andreas



I know it's only VfB but I like it!
User currently offline747-451 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 2417 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 9803 times:

Depending on the airline, they cram as many seats as possible onto the smallest aircraft they can get away with. Meals are only served ("Bistro Boxes" which contain a sandwich, cookie and over ripe banana) on flights over 36 hours. Also the smaller the aircraft, the bitchier the staff.

User currently offlineQWERTY From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 383 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 9793 times:

Yield Management:

If you have two plane choices:

B747
B737 NG

with two costs for mile:

B747 - $3 QWERTYs
B737 - $2 QWERTYs

for 2 trips:

DALLAS to DENVER
DALLAS to BOSTON

Total # PAX anticipated and booked for each flight will fit on either plane.

For those interested in capacity planning, which plane goes on which route?


User currently offlineTKMCE From India, joined May 2002, 841 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 9778 times:

There is also suitabilty of the airport for a particular aircraft !.
There is a parameter callthe Aerodrome Reference Code (ARC) which may limit the type of aircraft you can operate.
For eg, in India, Indian Airlines was limited to operarting 737s to the Cochin Airport (COK) since then old airport had an ARC of 4C which limited them to 737 and similar operations while there was enough or more potential to bring in 747s. They later built a new airport which has a 4E rating and Air India now operates a weekly 742 to DXB frm COK.

Regards


User currently offlineTKMCE From India, joined May 2002, 841 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (11 years 10 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 9776 times:

There is also suitabilty of the airport for a particular aircraft !.
There is a parameter callthe Aerodrome Reference Code (ARC) which may limit the type of aircraft you can operate.
For eg, in India, Indian Airlines was limited to operarting 737s to the Cochin Airport (COK) since then old airport had an ARC of 4C which limited them to 737 and similar operations while there was enough or more potential to bring in 747s. They later built a new airport which has a 4E rating and Air India now operates a weekly 742 to DXB frm COK.

Regards


User currently offlineB727-200 From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 1051 posts, RR: 3
Reply 14, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 9677 times:


TKMCE, you are right with the aircraft type and airport restrictions  Smile

I didn't go into the 'constraint' side of aircraft scheduling, because that opens up a whole new can of worms.

An obvious constraint on a route basis is aircraft range. For example, an A320 flying non-stop LAX-SYD would probably fall out of the sky somewhere between Hawaii and Tahiti  Big thumbs up

Likewise, airport specs have a huge bearing on the aircraft that can be flown in. This includes number of gates and their size, runway length, runway width, commercial and residential build-up around the airport, minimum obstacle clearance in engine failures after V2, etc....

Runway width is an interesting one. Some countries have only recently changed rulings on runway width for A320 operations. A320's used to require a 55 meter runway width (a B767 requires 65m), where as the B737 could operate into airports with a 45m runway. Needless to say, most airlines who argue this eventually win.

B727-200.


User currently offlineSIA fan From Indonesia, joined Aug 2000, 728 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9655 times:

Airmale: I think one must study a lot of Operations Research (OR) or Management Science (MS) techniques to work for the Yield/Schedule management side of an airline.

In my OR/MS class, we had a lot of airline related problems. Although we didn't dig deep into the Yield management issues but we worked on problems such as assigning aircrafts to a number of routes given the constraints to maximize profit and utilization of the aircrafts. Of course the problems are very simple (compared to real world problems) such that it can be solved by Microsoft Excel. We also had problems where we assign specific areas to hubs, etc.

When I applied for my internship at MZ, I was offered a job at the Scheduling department but I chickened out realizing it would be extra demanding and challenging so I turned it down and asked for a job at another department.



SQ*G BD*S
User currently offlineTkmce From India, joined May 2002, 841 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 9636 times:

B727-200
I HAVE A QUERY REG a320?
Does 4C rating mean it is suitable for 320s also?I know it is valid for 737s.
(again I guess this must also depend on a lot of other factors (Runway Length/Temp etc( but is $C the minimum for A32)s or is a 4D required?

Cheers
TKMCE


User currently offlineB727-200 From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 1051 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (11 years 10 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 9570 times:


SIA fan,

You have no idea what you have missed out on. You will find most of your OR training will go out the window if you work in a scheduling area anyway, with most of it coming down to experience and gut feel. There is a lot of number crunching conducted though, normally in specific planning software, but often in Excel spreadsheets (very techo  Big thumbs up ).

Despite how many complex systems you have in place to determine your route network, you will always have passengers to ruin your plans. It is often said in airlines schedules planning departments that "we would run a great airline if it weren't for the passengers".

You would be surprised too, it is usually the 45 year-old who left school at 15 to become a reservations clerk or baggage handler, and has spent their last 20 years in scheduling that make the best schedule planners. They are the ones who can figure out in their head in a split second what will take others hours, days or weeks to work out on a computer.

Tkmce,

Sorry mate, I don't know the answer to your question. I didn't get into the tech side of airport ops too much. As I said though, if a B737 can use it, then it is likely they will let A320's as well. I think the A320 has better runway performance than a B737 so length is not an issue. Don't know about tarmac strengths in relation to A320's and B737's either unfortunately.

Rgds,
B727-200.


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