Fleet Management

Efficient airplane utilization requires close coordination among an airline’s own fleet planning, schedules planning, passenger reservations, flight operations, ground operations, and airplane maintenance systems, as well as with air traffic controllers and airport authorities. Even a small reduction in turnaround time at the gate can produce impressive benefits, particularly for short-haul carriers (Boeing, 2019).   To assign an aircraft for each individual route, airlines typically operate a number of different aircraft types. Each aircraft type has different characteristics and costs, such as seating capacity, landing weights, crew requirements, maintenance and fuel. Fleet diversity would require the airline to have skilled personnel (e.g. pilots and engineers) for each aircraft type, and plan for different maintenance checks. Airlines would also have less flexibility in replacing an aircraft that requires extensive maintenance work. Therefore, it is in the interest of airlines to keep maintenance costs as low as possible by acquiring a more homogeneous fleet. However, this is not always possible for airlines with a very diverse and wide network composed of short and long haul routes. Figure 1 shows the mix of aircraft types that constitute Turkish Airlines’ fleet, indicating their average age. Fig. 1 – Turkish Airlines Fleet (Turkish Airline, 2020) As can be clearly seen in Figure 1 Turkish airlines, like most full-service carrier airlines, require a mix of aircraft types for their operations. As a result of distinct forms of operations,  full service carriers consequently require sophisticated strategies to optimize the utility of their fleet. The contrary is true for airlines with a more concentrated operational range as is common with low cost carriers (LCC). For example, EasyJet in Europe has a fleet predominantly made up of the Airbus A320 family and Southwest in the US of the Boeing B373 as shown on Figures 2 and 3. Fig 2 – European LCC easyJet A320 Fig 3 – US LCC Southwest Airlines B737 Table 1 demonstrates the difference in operational range and seat capacity of the most popular Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Table 1 –  Range and capacity of the most popular Airbus and Boeing’s aircraft 
Body type Aircraft Model Range Capacity (pax)
Narrow-body B737 6570 Km 162-178
Narrow-body A320 6200 Km 150-180
Narrow-body A321 7400 Km 180-220
Wide-body A330 15094 Km 220-260
Wide-body B787 13950 Km 296
Wide-body B777 15843 Km 396
Wide-body A350 15000 Km 300-350
Wide-body B747 14310 Km 410
Wide-body A380 14,800 km (8,000 NM) 575 – 853
Each aircraft type is therefore best suited to different operations. For example, Turkish airlines uses the narrow body A321 on the 2 hour flight between Istanbul Airport (IST) and Cairo (CAI), which is a distance of 1,260 Km (783 miles); and it uses the wide-body B777 on the 11 hour flight between IST and New York (JFK) airport, which is a distance of 8,047 Km (5,000 miles). The map below shows Turkish Airlines’ choice of narrow and wide-body aircraft across its network. Fig. 4  – Turkish Airlines Network by aircraft type Fig. 4 demonstrates that airlines generally use narrow-body aircraft for short-haul routes and wide-body aircraft for long haul routes. Passenger demand, however, could alter that approach and allow  airlines to use wide-body aircraft for short-haul routes. For example, Turkish airlines use the wide-body B777 for one morning flight between Istanbul Airport (IST) and Izmir (ADB), which is a distance of 359 Km (223 miles). Related Topics Bibliography Pending to be included