Air transport industry considers future pathways

A group of people stand on steps outside a white-painted building.

Figures from across the air transport industry gathered to consider the future for a key aspect of their sector as the Lancaster University-led OR-MASTER project delivered its conclusions.

OR-MASTER – led out of the of the Centre for Transport and Logistics (CENTRAL) in Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) – investigates the demand-capacity imbalance at the world’s biggest airports.

With demands for flights only increasing and capacity limited, OR-MASTER has applied mathematical models and algorithms to develop systems for allocating arrival and departure slots to airlines that are fair, transparent, and efficient.

Project members presented the implications of their work for policy and practice at an event in Windsor attended by representatives from airlines, airports, and air traffic service providers, as well as leading academics in the field.

Distinguished Professor Konstantinos Zografos, Director of CENTRAL, and Principal Investigator on the OR-MASTER project, said: “This was a very successful event, and a strong way to showcase the practical applications of the OR-MASTER project.

“We had some very productive discussions regarding OR-MASTER’s policy and practice implications. Our research has the potential to provide possible solutions for airports and within networks of airports, which could benefit all stakeholders in the system – from airlines and airports themselves right through to passengers.

“We had participation from across the UK, Europe and the USA at the event, demonstrating how this is a globally important issue, one that requires expert insight to resolve. The project has already produced a significant body of published research results, and there is a healthy pipeline for future publications in the coming years as well.”

The EPSRC-funded OR-MASTER project is led by Professor Zografos and a team of operational research and air transport experts in CENTRAL. They work alongside computing and science researchers from the Universities of Leicester and Bangor.

Key issues addressed by the Optimization Based Airport Slot Allocation: Implications for Policy and Practice event in Windsor included the optimisation of airport slot allocation decisions based on the World Airport Scheduling Guidelines. These decisions determine which airlines are allocated arrival and departure slots at airports across the globe, with demand outstripping supply, and only set to increase.

Participants also discussed the incorporation of fairness and flexibility into the slot allocation process; the consideration of multiple-criteria in allocating airport slots at a single airport and network of airports; the development of a mechanism for improving the transparency of slot allocation through secondary trading – where airlines sell and buy slots; the declaration of airport capacity – which affects both slot availability and the potential for delays and congestion; and the consideration of operational delays in making slot allocation decisions.

In addition to presentations and discussions during the workshop, OR-MASTER had the opportunity to present and discuss 13 posters presenting just some of the OR-MASTER research output.

A group of people sit in a row behind desks. One man holds microphone in his hands. At the end of the row another man stands listening.

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