How airlines manage flight schedules?
As easy as travelling in an airline seems, it is as complicated and difficult for the airlines to maintain their schedule. Planning a routine for an airline company, and covering all their flights is not an easy task. It requires a lot of algorithms to be written and plans to be developed in order to make a simple schedule of one plane. When we include bookings on different flight paths in a single aeroplane, it can become a very complicated job, and only a super algorithm can navigate through that.
Airlines flight schedules are always a challenge to plan. Although there are plenty of things about it that should be easier, sometimes things will always remain confusing and complicated. To make a plan for tens, or even hundreds of flights each day will take a colossal effort for any flight operating organization. In this article, we are going to discuss how airlines schedule their flights and how challenging this task is really for them.
My personal understanding of airline flight schedules
I was able to personally study the algorithm of airlines and how they are able to schedule flight. This opportunity was provided to me in my university years as I was working on the development of the flight operations system. In that system, a flight was given a code name to one route only. The departure flight will always be in an odd number, and the incoming or return flight will be in an even number. A single aeroplane can make up to three 2 hour long flights over a course of a day. If an aeroplane is covering a longer route, it will make one outbound, and one incoming flight. So the system is quite complex, which I will further discuss in this article.
On my visit to Accra, I was able to interview a crewmember of that flight. He told me that this place is scheduled for 2 flights daily. One outbound from the main hub of operations, and one inbound or return. So every aeroplane has different schedules, depending on the size, nature of the flight, and a number of people travelling on a route.
The anatomy of airlines
Due to a challenging routine for airlines and their flight operations, they have to break down their system of working. Most airlines that have big operations all over the world use one or multiple flight hubs in order to simplify their operations. This practice is basically applied by breaking down different routes of airlines. An aeroplane will always take off from a destination, and land at its hub in this system. There are also other systems involved when there are multiple hubs employed by an airline company. In that model, two or more major hubs are used by a single airline due to immense traffic on its multiple routes.
It is also a very difficult task to set prices on their flight seats for all small or big airlines. There are different algorithms that are used to decide the price of a flight. Although airlines do provide best deals on their flights in the form of discounts and promotions, it is all auto-generated, but can be manually controlled as well by an operator. So scheduling of a single flight ticket takes up a lot of effort, and airlines invest a lot in their algorithms to maintain their databases and flight schedules.
Scheduling flights and the logic behind them
Scheduling flights and learning about how flight operations are managed is not an easy task to deal with. You have to break down the workings of an entire organization which is controlling its operations, and the worst part is that every airline company has a different way to operate and schedule their flights. A single aircraft flight path is denoted by a single or multiple flight number. It is basically given with respect to its route. However, that number can also be changed sometimes due to different reasons. Multiple aircraft of a single aircraft carrier fly a single route if the traffic is too much on that.
The logic behind the flight schedule seems complicated. But it isn’t in reality. Airlines use their flight plan algorithms as modern techniques to keep their flights steadily progressing across the day, week, or month. This also includes a factor of aircraft maintenance, pilot and crew’s well-being, and regular check-ups on software and other systems needed to operate an aircraft.
Factors that affected airlines schedule system
Airlines schedule flights on different factors. And each airline has its own algorithm to follow depending on the number of its aircraft, staff, headquarter location, and size of the company. If an airline has a small fleet of aircraft at its disposal, it will always try to use them to maximum avail by flying them between destinations with little or no break. This is a crucial scheduling system, as both the aircraft and the pilots will not be able to maintain their health and other up-keeping with respect to parts of the aircraft, software, and systems.
It can also be a matter of flying planes to different airports without specifying a particular route for them. When an airline company is small and operating with a few aircraft, they will not stick to the idea of flying from a specific hub. They will use their aircraft on multiple routes. The maintenance will be low and the stress on places and crew will be high. It will also involve very tough programming on algorithms to schedule flights. However, when an airline is operating with a substantial number of aircraft with a hub, and its aircraft cover one or two routes, it will be based on a less complex schedule system. Aircraft will get proper maintenance and the crew will also operate on less stressful schedules.
Other extra factors that affected the airline schedule system
Although the scheduling of aeroplanes become more organized with the digitalization of everything. Their routes also played a key part along with the updation of FAA rules and regulations to maintain aircraft as well as the well-being of the crew. However, there were other key factors that played an important role in developing more complex airline scheduling. One such factor was the tragedy of 9/11, as it played a key role in ticketing and stock pricing of airlines, and aircraft manufacturing companies. It demanded a new set of rules and algorithms to be implemented in airline scheduling, as well as other factors that were determined with research.
There are always going to be upgrading and innovations in airline scheduling with passing time, and only for the betterment of this industry. So as the future approaches, this industry will always flourish and we can only brace ourselves for betterment.