Posts: 22
Joined: Sat May 14, 2005 2:09 am

Unbalanced Airline Schedules

Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:41 am

Can someone shed some light on why airlines run "unbalanced" schedules between a pair of cities? For example, United flies 3x daily from SFO - EWR (departures ~ 9:00, 13:00 & 23:00), but only 2x daily from EWR - SFO (departures ~ 6:30 & 18:00). Similar sized aircrafts (mostly A319s through mid-Feb, then mostly 757s after that) are used in both directions, so it is not like they are making up the imbalance in seats by running larger aircraft westbound. It seems like a mid-day/early afternoon departure from EWR that would arrive in SFO around 16:00 to allow for connections to Hawaii or other locations up & down the pacific coast would be useful. By the way, they make up this difference by running EWR-ORD 8x daily while ORD-EWR is only 7x daily.
Posts: 2616
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 6:25 am

RE: Unbalanced Airline Schedules

Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:51 am

Airlines do this for a number of reasons:

1) Positioning - To allow an airplane to get to another city
2) Unequal demand - No route has exactly equal amounts to/from. Sometimes it makes sense to operate 2 flights to, and 3 flights from, for example.
3) Scheduling - Eastbound flights from the West arrive usually 7-8 hours later than the local time they departed from, so an airline may not be able to fit in a flight in the opposite direction in the time period it wants. It may be better for that aircraft to continue on to another city.
4) Rotation - Airlines may want to rotate an aircraft between hubs, for example a UA plane may fly SFO-EWR-LAX, while another may fly LAX-EWR-SFO, etc.