Robust Airline Fleet Assignment
Smith, Barry Craig
MetadataShow full item record
Robust Airline Fleet Assignment Barry C. Smith 140 Pages Directed by Dr. Ellis L. Johnson Fleet assignment models are used by many airlines to assign aircraft to flights in a schedule to maximize profit. Major airlines report that the use of fleet assignment models increases annual profits by more than $100 million. The results of fleet assignment models affect subsequent planning, marketing and operational processes within the airline. Anticipating these processes and developing solutions favorable to them can further increase the benefits of fleet assignment models. We propose to produce fleet assignment solutions that increase planning flexibility and reduce cost by imposing station purity, limiting the number of fleet types allowed to serve each airport in the schedule. We demonstrate that imposing station purity on the fleet assignment model can limit aircraft dispersion in the network and make solutions more robust relative to crew planning, maintenance planning and operations. Because station purity can significantly degrade computational efficiency, we develop a solution approach, Station Decomposition, which takes advantage of airline network structure. Station Decomposition uses a column generation approach to solving the fleet assignment problem; we further improve the performance of Station Decomposition by developing a primal-dual method that increases the solution quality and model efficiency. Station Decomposition solutions can be highly fractional; we develop a fix and price heuristic to efficiently find integer solutions to the fleet assignment problem. Airline profitability can be increased if fleet assignment models anticipate the effects of marketing processes such as revenue management. We develop an approach, ODFAM, which incorporates airline revenue management effects into the fleet assignment model. We develop an approach to incorporate station purity and ODFAM using a combination of column and cut generation. This approach can increase airline profit up to $27 million per year.