Optimizing airplane utilization, which includes efficient airplane turn-time at the gates, can help an airline maximize the large capital investment it has made in its airplanes. Efficient airplane utilization requires close coordination among an airline’s own fleet planning, schedules planning, passenger reservations, flight operations, ground operations, and airplane maintenance systems, as well as with air traffic controllers and airport authorities (see following article, “Improving Ramp/Terminal Operations for Shorter Turn-Times”). Even a small reduction in turnaround time at the gate can produce impressive benefits, particularly for short-haul carriers.
By Mansoor Mirza
Regional Director, Economic and Financial Analysis Group
Airplane utilization is a key performance indicator for airline operations and a significant differentiator for some business models. Airplane utilization is a function of a number of elements, including airplane design features and characteristics, airline maintenance programs, airplane technical reliability, airline business philosophy, market demand characteristics, and availability of trained labor.
Traditionally, some carriers rely on more efficient airplane utilization based on point-to-point service and faster airplane turnaround at the gate. Improved airplane utilization helps spread fixed ownership costs over an increased number of trips, reducing costs per seat-mile or per trip.