Airline operations & Planning
Owning and running a reliable fleet of aeroplanes is perhaps one of the most demanding business ventures one can ever undertake. It all starts with the aeroplanes that have to be maintained regularly, extends to the business side of things where the accounting records must be monitored closely, and of course there is the human aspect --the passenger who values his life and expects to arrive alive. Airline planning is an integral part of any airline's safety and structure protocol, especially now that terrorist organisations have been targeting airlines following the September 11 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in the U.S. The concerns of higher management and the inherent fears of terrorism extend even to as far as freight planes and military aircraft.
Schedule design is important because it hinges on a set of flights having predetermined origin and destination points, coupled with arrival and departure times as well. Under this heading you can also include flight times and departure time windows as some of the things to consider when seeking to maximise profits. For instance, if flight times are flexible, incidents of missed flights can be reduced, thereby increasing your airline's popularity as being a preferred choice for its flexibility. Schedule design is normally done at least a year in advance.
Fleet assignment refers to the allocation of certain aeroplanes to specific routes. This comes into play when your objectives have been spelt out and you are dealing with which airplanes should service particular routes. When your objective is profit then you need your newest aircraft and the same applies if your objectives are safety and regaining customer confidence. airline operations planning of this nature is important for the simple fact that without it faulty planes can be carelessly assigned to long routes where stopover maintenance is too staggered and hasty. Essential tools for this are log books and fleet analysts. Fleet assignment must be organized 3 months in advance.
It is a known fact that crew costs are second to fuel costs when it comes to the hierarchy of an airline's expenditure model. It is important to handle crew scheduling with a mind of cotton and a heart of gold because unfavorable scheduling can cause plane crashes, strikes and eventual bankruptcy. Rest periods --both long and short- must be organized in such a way that due consideration is given to the individual flight times of pilots and the service hours of the regular crew. Any dissatisfaction can lead to a host of operational problems, like understaffing and workers strikes, both of which cost the airline money.
When schedule design, fleet assignment and crew scheduling are handled well, service quality and profitability also improve as a matter of course. Service quality improves as a direct result of proper planning and organisation, and quite naturally profitability is the by-product of the effective functioning of an airline. When all is said and done, if all airlines handle their affairs in the right manner, the prospect of safe air travel may not be so far off.