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Passenger-Centric Integrated Airline Schedule and Aircraft Recovery

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Document pages: 39 pages

Abstract: Airlines are known to compete for passengers, and airline profitability heavily depends on the ability to estimate passenger demand, which in turn depends on flight schedules, fares and the number of seats available at each fare, across all airlines. Interestingly, such competitive interactions and passenger substitution effects may not be limited to planning stages. Existing regulations in some countries and regions impose monetary compensations to passengers in case of disruptions, altering the way they perceive the utility of other travel alternatives after the disruption starts. These passenger rights regulations may act as catalysts of passengers’ response to recovered schedules. Ignoring such passenger response behavior under operational disruptions may lead airlines to develop subpar recovery schedules. We develop a passenger response model and embed it into a novel integrated optimization approach that recovers airline schedules, aircraft, and passenger itineraries while endogenizing the impacts of airlines decisions on passenger compensation and passenger response. We also develop an original solution approach, involving exact linearization of the nonlinear passenger cost terms, combined with delayed constraint generation for ensuring aircraft maintenance feasibility and an acceleration technique that penalizes deviations from planned schedules. Computational results on real-world problem instances of a major Spanish airline are reported, for scenarios involving disruptions, such as delayed flights and airport closures. Our solutions are found to be tractable, superior to airline’s actual decisions, and highly robust in the face of passenger response uncertainty. Of particular relevance to the practitioners, our simulation results highlight that accounting for passengers’ disruption response behaviors – even in a highly approximate manner – yields significant benefits to the airline, as compared to not accounting for them at all, which is the current state-of-the-art.

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