Fleet Planning

The acquisition of a new aircraft requires a large investment (e.g. one narrow-body Airbus A320 cost around 100 Million Eur and a  wide-body Airbus A350 costs more than 300 Million Eur – Airbus, 2018), it is consequently evident that even a small percentage saving is significant for airlines. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to consider many different factors, such as demand, aircraft economics, commonality, aircraft performances, finance, aircraft type preferences for the considered routes and market conditions (S Dožić, and M Kalić, 2015).

Fleet Planning requires strategic decision-making, normally undertaken when the launch of a new airline is envisioned, and concerns the number and type of aircraft needed for operation. It entails the process of acquiring the appropriate aircraft-types in order to serve the anticipated markets based on the airline’s strategic plan. Fleet Planning addresses fleet size and fleet mix. In Fleet assignment (fleet management), however, we assume that the airline is already operational using the existing aircraft in its fleet, and the problem is to assign particular plane types to effectively cover a network.

A realistic fleet planning scenario is an important first step in the fleet planning process.  This scenario includes consideration of factors including the future shape of the world economy, fuel prices, the cost of borrowing, the future state of the industry (growth factors, yields, competition and structure). Next, the airline’s place within the scenario needs to be established by analyzing competition, market size and networks alliances. Market segments and customer preferences also need to be investigated as these translate into interior requirements such as cabin layout which is very important in optimizing the revenue earning capability of the aircraft; constraints such as airports and ATC limitations; and environmental issues such as carbon trading schemes, green taxes and alternative fuels. In order to assure that plans are ‘future proof’ through risk assessment, multiple scenarios are recommended for consideration. 

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