Robust scheduling practices in the U.S. airline industry: Costs, returns, and inefficiencies

Ramdas, K and Atkinson, S A and Williams, J W (2016) Robust scheduling practices in the U.S. airline industry: Costs, returns, and inefficiencies. Management Science, 62 (11). pp. 3372-3391. ISSN 0025-1909

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Airlines use robust scheduling to mitigate the impact of unforeseeable disruptions on profits. We examine how effectively three common practices—flexibility to swap aircraft, flexibility to reassign gates, and scheduled aircraft downtime—accomplish this goal. We first estimate a multiple-input, multiple-outcome production frontier, which defines the attainable set of outcomes from given inputs. We then recover unobserved input costs and calculate how expenditure on inputs affects outcomes and revenues. We find that the per-dollar return from expenditure on gates, or more effective management of existing gate capacity, is three times larger than the per-dollar returns from other inputs. Next, we use the estimated trade-offs faced by carriers along the frontier to measure the value to carriers of reducing delays. Finally, we calculate the improvement in carriers’ outcomes and profits if their operational inefficiencies are eliminated. On average, we estimate that operational inefficiencies cost carriers about $1.7 billion in revenue annually.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P > Performance
A > Air transport
S > Scheduling
S > Stochastic processes
Subject Areas: Management Science and Operations
DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2015.2302
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2016 18:51
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2017 01:01

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