NETORK MANAGEMENT BASICS
An Airline network must be built taking into account several key factors, wich can be broken down into several categories such as :
‘ Routes potential
Types of traffic
When all 4 points have been thoroughly analysed, and the analysis determines a favorable situation for the operation of a specific route, the various targets of the latter ones must be measured in order to categorize them in order to determine the best schedule such as :
‘ Ethnic & VFR
What is considered an interesting potential is when a route responds favourably to at least two of the three aforementionned categories, except on specific cases such as a pure seasonal route, for which an optimized planning will help it achieve positive financial results.
Planning & Productivity
The next step is to make the best use of the fleet, as the say goes « an aircraft on the ground costs money, a flying one earns money ». This is where planning optimization comes, being decisive in function of the following points :
‘ Aircraft type
‘ Cabin configuration
‘ Marketing & Sales
Constraints & Limitations
However, there are a number of constraits related to the network operation that can become disadvantageous during the network planning phase. Those can be operational, political, environmental, climate related, or logistical.
It is then paramount to precisely analyze those constraints in order to void being surprised by unavoidable but preventable situation that can have as a major consequence a domino effect on the network as a whole, especially on the planning side.
Each of those constraints can be influenced by a number of determining factors such as :
‘ Limitations due to the lack of crew, reserves
‘ Limitations due to maintenance constraints
‘ Limitations on schedule (such as a night-ban)
‘ Limitations due to noise abattment, access restricted to specific hours
‘ Limitations due to runway lenght and/or pavement
‘ Limitations due to the airport passenger capacity, or slot restricted airspace
‘ Traffic rights limitations
‘ Limitations due to political or diplomatical relations
‘ Limitations due to the surrounding terrain, obstacles (buildings, mountains)
‘ Limitations due to recurrent bad weather (snow, fog, thunderstorms, strong crosswinds)
‘ Limitations due to the airport's inability to provide services mandatory for the operation (tow-truck, hangar, stairs or jet-bridge, deicing fluid)
Once all those factors are taken into account, the route network can actually be built rationally, taking into account the type of aircraft available or, following the opposite reflection, determining, by planning the network, determining itself the aircraft type that will be necessary to operate it.
As aforementionned, each route has a number of specificities that must be taken into account in order to make the right choices..
A low volume route can be much more efficient in economic terms than a high-traffic route, depending on the particular nature of its passengers, potential purchasing power of the latter on the given leg, or the existing or potential competitive environment and its access by other means of transportation (road, rail,...), especially if distances are limited.
‘ Current volume and applicable yield
‘ Actual or possible competition environment
‘ Route production during all periods of the year
‘ Capacity to produce additional volume by adding to the actual offer
‘ Target market travelling for professional motives
‘ Target market travelling for leisure
‘ Target market travelling for ethnic or family motives
‘ Operation according to the most suitable schedules for the target customer
‘ Choice of the most suitable frequencies for the target customer
‘ Distribution of schedules on times and days most adapted to the target customer
‘ Taking into account the periods most adapted to the target customer
‘ Fairs, expositions, sports events, ... likely to boost traffic
‘ Taking advantage of inter-connectivity opportunities (hub)
‘ Adapting unitary capacity based on route typology
‘ Choosing the right aircraft based on route typology
‘ Adapting cabin configuration to route typology
‘ Determining the most favorable period to start selling the route