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Network – Part 2

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Long Term Scheduling covers roughly the time period “today + 5 weeks” to the end of System Range, which is the term for the time range within which flights can be published in axRes, i.e. the next 340 days.

Long Term Scheduling works together with Revenue Management. The so-called “peak list, in which flight analysts enter data about events relating to a specific destination, plays an important part here. (See photo below).

Many of these “peaks” are trade fairs for which RM generates maximum profit through long-term capacity management. This is why an A321 may be scheduled for a peak period in place of the customary ARJ used on a particular route. (See photo below).

Other types of peaks can be due to major sporting events, such as Formula One race. Official holidays also generate strong demand for capacity for multiple destinations at the same time.

A special entry on the peak list occurs during the first two weeks of January, the period during which Russia’s upper classes like to celebrate their orthodox Christmas and New Year season by flying to winter resorts in Switzerland or France. SWISS responds by adding capacity on the DME-GVA and DME-ZRH routes, and “extra sections”, i.e. supplementary flights are implemented. The aircraft fly “ferry” (non-revenue flight for positioning purposes) to DME and transport these customers GVA or ZRH. At the end of the holiday period, these customers are flown back to DME and the aircraft return as ferry flights to GVA or ZRH.

Extra sections are planned on the basis of input from Revenue Management and Sales (time frame with desired departure times) and only by using existing aircraft capacity. Flights can be operated only within the available airport slots, which is particularly problematic on Saturdays in GVA, which experiences capacity problems on winter weekends (ski-charter). Crew Planning also has to be taken into consideration to ensure that as few crews as possible are required and the number of crew hotel nights is kept to a minimum. (See photo below).

While high volume can be expected on certain dates, there are other times when passenger numbers are lower. This is true for business travel during the Christmas/New Year’s period and at Easter. Quite a few flights are cancelled during the festive season. On the basis of cancellations during the same period a year prior, and taking into consideration the views of Network Development, which determines the impact from a network perspective, Revenue Management receives a list of the flights that are scheduled for cancellation and is then required to analyse the impact on the destinations in question and provide feedback. The number of cancellations is then adjusted to a degree acceptable to all parties and these are then published as a first tranche at the end of July. To cope with the problem of airport slots and the 80% rule involved, this publication must take place no later than the Slot Return date (15 August)).

In October the designated flights are reviewed, with further cancellations possible. The publication must take place in early November, i.e. before the Final Load for Crew Planning in December. Parallel to the cancellations, the smallest possible aircraft are assigned to operate the designated flights, reflecting the drop in demand.

The growing trend among travellers to book flights relatively late, i.e. closer to their actual date of travel, makes planning cancellations much more difficult than in the past.

Wherever possible, Long Term Scheduling supports Current Scheduling and is also responsible for scheduling updates for certain codeshare partners.