Entering any airport and looking at the flight departures and arrivals boards you cannot stop to wonder how on earth do they manage to regulate everything. And the air industry is renowned for operating on relatively small budgets, so aircraft have to be turned around with the least possible delay.
An aircraft sitting on the ground is an expensive one, so the airlines and airport authorities have to minimize delays and increase aircraft utilization as much as they possibly can, and all this is done by having an effective and operational flight schedule.
Not only does the airport have to have robust scheduling the airline itself relies on it. Scheduling defines the bottom line, the operational costs, its reputation, and the revenue potential.
The actual department that handles this for an airline is called the Scheduling Management Department. It is this department who decides where the airline flies to and that it adheres to the airlines commercial and operational constraints.
To stay ahead of the competition, you must fill the market demand for your flights, and this is done by offering the correct destinations, the right times, and at the right price. The fifty million dollar question in flight scheduling is, How do you balance productivity with punctuality?
Airlines create their flight schedules assuming every flight will arrive and depart as planned, but due to delays and cancellations schedules can be more unstable than you would want them to be. To compensate for this robust scheduling is now a popular trend.
A robust schedule is a measure to judge how effective the schedule is, and it allows for the airline to get around regular flight disturbances with the minimum of fuss. There are five integral parts to robust scheduling, and they are:
- To create buffers
- To implement maintenance buffers
- The elimination of unnecessary rotation buffers
- When creating a schedule consider the crew pairings
- During the rostering phase talk to the crew management about feasibility
The Creation of Rotational Buffers
Rotational buffers are all about time and giving the period between separate legs enough minimum ground time to offset any normal disturbances. The big question is how to decide where to put this buffer and how long should it be for?
Considerations include different aircraft types, destinations, days of the week, seasons, and different airports. The solution is all down to mathematics and implementing smart business management tools to help you create your buffer.
Tools such as business analytics, these sort of tools lets you learn from the past to analyze and to compare things such as flight schedules to actual flights. By looking at the data from over a long period of time you can see if there are any similar periods when delays occurred and to find patterns. Disturbances to flight schedules can happen for any number of reasons, different airports, weather, too short a turnaround time, or even maintenance issues. Every facet must be studied so the correct time can be allocated at the correct place to offset regular disturbances.