Integrated Airline Schedule Design and Fleet Assignment: Polyhedral Analysis and Benders' Decomposition Approach
The main airline operations consist of schedule planning, fleet assignment, aircraft routing, and crew scheduling. To improve profitability, we present in this paper an integrated fleet assignment model with schedule planning by simultaneously considering optional flight legs to select along with the assignment of aircraft types to all scheduled legs. In addition, we consider itinerary-based demands for multiple fare classes. A polyhedral analysis is conducted of the proposed mixed-integer programming model to tighten its representation via several classes of valid inequalities. Solution approaches are developed by applying Benders' decomposition method to the resulting lifted model, and computational results are presented using real data obtained from a major U. S. airline to demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed procedures.