Establishing a solid fleeting planning is crucial for any airline that intends to reap significant benefits from its operations, maintain minimum operational costs and eliminate unnecessary expenses. Fleeting planning, also known as capacity planning entails the process of assigning an equipment type to each individual flight so that the assigned equipment is most suitable for catering for a particular demand. The main purpose of this approach is to ensure that a company derives considerable benefits with respect to the number of aircrafts available. In this regard, a company is supposed to operate within the limit of the resources at its disposal while maximizing on its operations. At the same time, fleeting planning addresses limitations imposed by the network structure such as the conservation of aircraft with respect to time and space and operation with the available number of aircrafts in each fleet (Sherali et al., 2006). This is realized through creating schedule scenarios and establishing the optimal fleet for future flight schedules that ensure matching of uncertain demands with the fixed aircraft capacity. Thus, the fleeting decision of an airline constitutes a peripheral component in matters, especially regarding revenue. It is vital in the overall scheduling process. Any airline involved in fleeting planning must consider seasonal factors and market forecast. These forecasts are essential in managing passenger revenue and cargo capacity management. Since these are dynamic factors, an airline should often evaluate its fleeting planning to ensure that it reaps considerable benefits in its operations while minimizing its operational costs. For example, including the cargo demand in the fleeting planning process improves the cargo revenue performance. Fleeting decisions affect a significant percentage of all the airline’s operations. These include maintenance costs, the price of fuel, purchase and resale of new and old aircrafts among other factors. It also affects the scheduling process with respect to aircraft capacity and equipment capabilities.
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Operating a few types of fleets enables potential savings and a stronger business model. An analysis of the Close-in re-fleeting (CRIF) shows that airlines that embrace this concept have been able to match capacity to demand while maintaining minimal costs. Thus, despite the fluctuating seasons and market forecasts, they are able to maximize profits. Through the CRIF approach, airlines can undertake changes accordingly, schedule smaller gauge aircrafts so that they operate in flights with less demand and remove out the larger gauge aircrafts whose maintenance and operational costs will be high in comparison to the revenue that they generate. Having varied, but a manageable fleet type has several advantages. These include effective aircraft rotation, as it is easier and less costly to swap aircrafts of a particular kind. An airline that has adopted such a strategy is better prepared to deal with arising crisis due to seasonal changes and market demand. Such an airline can easily accommodate the changes in customer demand on a short notice. The saving on operational costs extends to reduced investment in various spare parts to support multiple fleets. Another advantage of operating few fleet types is increased discounts due to purchase of similar parts and supplies (“Real-time solutions make your revenues take off”). Having few fleet types enables an airline to minimize the costs of training flight crews, mechanics and ground support personnel as would be the case of an airline operating multiple fleet types so that it has to train different individuals to work on different fleet types. In addition, the maintenance personnel get used to handling similar cases in mechanical repairs and thus the maintenance exercise can be executed in minimal time. Thus, to derive the maximum benefits from its fleet, an airline should reduce the number of its fleet type, but not result to only one fleet type to ensure it remains flexible in various aspects of operations.
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