Fleet planning is a significant part of the whole process of airline planning. Aircraft is selected during fleet planning to achieve the optimal fleet composition, which is quite important for successful business as an airline. Fleet planning consists of numerous different stages.
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First of all top management should carefully analyze available resources. Based on analyzed data it will be easier to set corporate objectives, which are necessary. It is highly important to develop the marketing strategy, which would fit the chosen business model. System constraints should also be considered during the process of choosing an aircraft. There are also computer models available to help with the fleet planning. Wensveen (2011) states that “computer-generated fleet planning models provide corporate planning with the basic output – the number and type of aircraft to be acquired, the times of acquisition, and the timing of trade-in” (p. 405). This means that computer models can analyze available data to provide the management team with basic guidelines on how to build their fleet planning model. The design of an airliner cannot be completely disregarded. Passengers prefer the interior design of the aircraft to be comfortable and stylish. In case airline wants to use different models of airplanes, additional licenses will be needed, which translates into even more expenses. Acquisition cost should also be carefully considered. While aircraft is extremely expensive, there is always a choice to lease an aircraft. However, in the long run, it will be more beneficial for the airlines to have their own aircraft.
Boeing 737 is the most popular narrow-body jet airliner in the world. They have been produced since 1967, so they have proven to be extremely effective and safe. It typically has around 110 passenger seats (Vasigh, Taleghani, & Jenkins, 2012). Boeing 737’s can be used for more than ten years. These airplanes are extremely cost effective. Another important benefit of Boeing 737’s is their incredible fuel efficiency. There is no need for aircraft with better fuel storing capabilities than Boeing 737’s when the airline only offers short range flights. Fleet commonality also has numerous advantages from the logistic and economic standpoint. Aircraft of the same type is much easier to repair, and common parts are easier to attain. Another important aspect that should be noted is that there is no need for additional training of employees if only a single type of aircraft is being used. While other airplanes on the market allow long range flights, they also have numerous disadvantages. Vasigh et al. (2012) state that “the financial characteristics of an aircraft include crew costs, maintenance, depreciation, and other operating characteristics” (p. 96). This means that all of the characteristics of aircraft should be carefully considered before making the final decision.
In conclusion, it is indeed beneficial to use one type of aircraft if the airline uses the same business model as Southwest Airlines. It can be considered extremely effective because this airline holds strong positions on the market ever since 1967. However, this business model has a few glaring weaknesses. There are limited opportunities for progression and development when the airline does not offer long range flights. Maintenance costs are huge and hard to manage because of a number of flights that take place each day. Overall, fleet planning should be personalized as it highly depends on the airline and corporate objectives.
Vasigh, B., Taleghani, R., & Jenkins, D. (2012). Aircraft Finance: Strategies for Managing Capital Costs in a Turbulent Industry. Fort Lauderdale, FL: J. Ross Publishing.
Wensveen, J. G. (2011). Air Transportation: A Management Perspective (7th ed.). Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.