How Airlines Decide Where to Fly – considerations airlines must make when planning new routes

Flight planning is the process of producing a flight plan to describe a proposed aircraft flight.

It involves two safety-critical aspects: fuel calculation, to ensure that the aircraft can safely reach the destination, and compliance with air traffic control requirements, to minimize the risk of midair collision.

In addition, flight planners normally wish to minimize flight cost through the appropriate choice of route, height, and speed, and by loading the minimum necessary fuel on board. Air Traffic Services (ATS) use the completed flight plan for separation of aircraft in air traffic management services, including tracking and finding lost aircraft, during search and rescue (SAR) missions.


Here are considerations airlines must make when planning new routes

Demand forecasting: Before starting a new route, airlines want to know how many passengers will travel on their flight. Most airlines use aviation market intelligence tools to parse and analyze all available data. By knowing the average traffic flow per day, airlines will determine which type of aircraft is most suitable for the route. An airline will definitely not start a route and fly a Boeing 777 where there are only a few passengers traveling every day between point A and B. It would simply not make any sense to operate an aircraft of such capacity.

Connectivity at the Hub: Most airlines have one or more hubs where they operate most of their flights. The job of the Network Planning team at an airline is to ensure that most passenger will be able to go to the destination of their choice in the airline’s route network.

Aircraft availability: An airline will have to source an aircraft when deciding to fly to a new destination. A major airline with a large fleet of aircraft might be able to find a spare aircraft and assign it to the new route.

Matching the competition: Opening a new route that is already flown by another air carrier is not unusual since there are thousands of airlines operating in the world. The route between New York (JFK) to London (LHR) is flown by many different airlines flying multiple times a day. Starting this new route will be a challenge for an airline.


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