Unlocking the Power of Aviation Operations DataAssessing airport gate usageUtilization, turn times and delaysAGIFORS Sympo...
OVERVIEWStudy of gate scheduling, usage and delays          Scope and Methodology                                         ...
DEFINITIONSDefinitionsScheduled Turn Time                 Actual Turn Time            Gate Utilization    The scheduled ti...
D ATA S E T U S E DCompleteness of Data SetWe compiled a sufficiently broad data set to conduct this analysis             ...
A N A LY Z I N G S C H E D U L E D T U R N SScheduled Turns: Major Hub Carriers      American – Scheduled Turns           ...
A N A LY Z I N G S C H E D U L E D T U R N SScheduled Turns: Hub Carriers w/Smaller Aircraft        JetBlue – Scheduled Tu...
A N A LY Z I N G S C H E D U L E D T U R N SScheduled Turns: LCCs with utilization priority    Southwest – Scheduled Turns...
SCHEDULED VS. ACTUAL TURNSScheduled vs. Actual Turns at GatesActual time on gate averages higher than scheduled time    Ma...
G AT E U T I L I Z AT I O NNow let’s look at daily utilization of gatesWhich carriers extract the most turns per gate?    ...
U T I L I Z AT I O N B Y H U BDaily Utilization of Gates, by HubSurveying different carriers – daily departures per gate u...
U T I L I Z AT I O N B Y H U BDaily Utilization of Gates, by Hub (2)Surveying different carriers – daily departures per ga...
HOLD OUTSTight Turns and HoldoutsWhat percent of daytime flights likely arrive to an occupied gate or ramp area?          ...
HOLD OUTSTight Turns and Holdouts (2)United and Southwest show similar patterns                        United             ...
U T I L I Z AT I O N V S . H O L D - O U T SConnecting gate planning to delaysIt is possible to quantitatively connect gat...
D E L AY G E N E R AT I O NSo where are delays generated?Delay generation is outbound departure delay minus inbound arriva...
G AT E C H O I C EGate choice impacts on-time performanceWhere a carrier gates specific flights impacts their on-time perf...
G AT E C H O I C EAnother example of gate blocking: BWISouthwest’s Baltimore terminal has significant ramp issues too     ...
CONCLUSIONSConclusions: Turn Times                                    This project observed three different               ...
CONCLUSIONSConclusions: Gate Utilization                                    Gate utilization depends on real estate       ...
CONCLUSIONSConclusions: Delay ImpactUtilization, turn times, and even gate selection impact on-timeperformance and necessi...
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AGIFORS Presentation: Assessing U.S. Gate Utilization

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Presented at AGIFORS Annual Symposium. This presentation analyzes airport gate usage and delays across U.S. carriers during the summer 2012 season. Using the masFlight data warehouse, I demonstrate differences in gate utilization strategies, scheduled and actual aircraft turn times, and how those strategies impact operational robustness and delays. I show how individual gate assignments can make significant differences in on-time performance, opening opportunities for granular block time planning and airport-level coordination.

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AGIFORS Presentation: Assessing U.S. Gate Utilization

  1. 1. Unlocking the Power of Aviation Operations DataAssessing airport gate usageUtilization, turn times and delaysAGIFORS SymposiumOctober 12, 2012Joshua MarksChief Executive Officerjosh@masflight.comMobile. +1 703-994-00004833 Rugby Avenue, Suite 301Bethesda, Maryland 20814 USAwww.masflight.com
  2. 2. OVERVIEWStudy of gate scheduling, usage and delays Scope and Methodology This study reviews how U.S. carriers schedule gate operations and execute Airlines studied: turns, and how those factors impact American, Alaska, JetBlue, Delta, AirTran, Spirit, United, US Airways, departure and taxi delays by airport Virgin America and Southwest Time period analyzed: • Large-scale analysis covering 3 months June 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012 Stations in data set: • Multi-airline, with both hub-and-spoke and U.S. and Puerto Rico airports point-to-point carriers on domestic and international routes from the U.S. Flights included: All domestic and international flights including those by regional affiliates • Gate turns based on airline-reported data (published via FIDS or flight status systems) Records in data set: 1.6 million flights with gate & turn data at 3,900 discrete airline gates • Aligns with schedule information to match gates to airline terminals and operators Data source: masFlight (includes data from FlightStats, OAG, DOT) • Incorporates weather and delay causes in order to discern patterns in gate congestionSOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  3. 3. DEFINITIONSDefinitionsScheduled Turn Time Actual Turn Time Gate Utilization The scheduled time The actual time Number of flights planned at the gate gate in to gate out, that depart daily from between inbound and for a single aircraft a given gate, including outbound flights at a given station RONs and gate-tows Gate Buffer Time Hold-Outs Delay Generation The time between Flights that land to an Departure delay of the gate operations, from occupied gate or a outbound flight minus each gate departure to blocked ramp area, the arrival delay of the the next arrival requiring taxi-in hold preceding inboundSOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  4. 4. D ATA S E T U S E DCompleteness of Data SetWe compiled a sufficiently broad data set to conduct this analysis Data Set Coverage Our data set included all flights where Airline as % of Flights we could identify a clean gate turn American* 98% and distinct departure gates Alaska 80% • For turn times we eliminated RONs, JetBlue 85% gate tows, and concurrent departures from Delta* 98% the same gate. We included actual turns between 20 and 240 minutes. Frontier 98% Spirit 98% • Where possible matched tail numbers as well as aircraft gate data to determine United* 89% aircraft turn time and gate utilization US Airways* 98% • When gate data unavailable (Puerto Rico Virgin America 91% and Alaska) we had comparably lower Southwest 100% coverage – Alaska Airlines and JetBlue* Coverage excludes certain small and non-US stations SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  5. 5. A N A LY Z I N G S C H E D U L E D T U R N SScheduled Turns: Major Hub Carriers American – Scheduled Turns American – Delays 0 20,000 40,000 60,000 by Scheduled Turn We looked at how legacy 31.6 31.5 0-29 min hub carriers scheduled turns across their networks 2630-44 min Minutes of Delay45-59 min • Domestic mainline turns60-74 min 10.3 10.1 9.7 9.7 9.2 9.1 8.3 8.2 • Most between 45 and 60 minutes 7.8 6.575-89 min 90-119… • Large aircraft require longer turns120+ min 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 Scheduled Turn Time • 30-min turns due to aircraft (5 minute increments) swaps and non-routines United – Scheduled Turns United – Delays • Delay minutes significantly by Scheduled Turn higher for <45 minute turns 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 40.9 37.6 0-29 min • American shows stability in 30-44 min delay minutes across turn times Minutes of Delay 22.4 45-59 min 21.3 21.1 20.9 • United has expected pattern: 17.7 17.5 17.4 15.2 60-74 min 14.6 13.9 as scheduled turn times 15 75-89 min increase, the delay minutes90-119 min incurred decrease 120+ min 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 Scheduled Turn Time (5 minute increments)SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  6. 6. A N A LY Z I N G S C H E D U L E D T U R N SScheduled Turns: Hub Carriers w/Smaller Aircraft JetBlue – Scheduled Turns JetBlue – Delays by Scheduled Turn Time JetBlue, Delta, US Airways & 37.2 0 5,000 10,000 15,000 20,000 Spirit had a mix of turn times 0-29 min with more 30-44 minute turns 30-44 min Minutes of Delay than United or American 45-59 min 14.9 14.9 14.1 13.9 13.8 13.7 13.4 13.3 60-74 min • Domestic mainline turns 10.6 10.5 10.4 12 75-89 min • Quicker turns at outstations90-119 min and away from key hubs 120+ min 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 Scheduled Turn Time (5 minute • Consistent distribution of turn increments) times across this airline set Delta – Scheduled Turns Delta – Delays by Scheduled Turn Time • Mainline smaller jets (EMB- 0 20,000 40,000 60,000 190, DC-9 series) 21.7 0-29 min drives faster pace as well Minutes of Delay 30-44 min 14.5 • Delta has similar pattern as 45-59 min United – as turn time increase, 9.2 60-74 min delays decrease 7.1 6.2 6.1 5.8 7 5.5 4.9 4.7 4.5 75-89 min 5 • Demonstrates importance of90-119 min aircraft mix and how turn time 120+ min 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 insulates inbound delays Scheduled Turn Time (5 minute increments)SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  7. 7. A N A LY Z I N G S C H E D U L E D T U R N SScheduled Turns: LCCs with utilization priority Southwest – Scheduled Turns Southwest – Delays by Scheduled Turn 0 100,000 200,000 For quick turn airlines, several 16.3 0-29 min new factors to consider 15.1 15.1 16 14.8 14.5 13.8 13.5 13.4 Minutes of Delay 12.4 30-44 min 12.2 11.1 • Southwest and AirTran have 11 45-59 min similarities in gate turn planning 60-74 min 75-89 min • Material differences in aircraft size90-119 min (717 vs. 73G/H), product 120+ min and carry-on bags! 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 Scheduled Turn Time (5 minute increments) • Short turns for Southwest are routine; 30-minute scheduled AirTran – Scheduled Turns AirTran – Delays by Scheduled Turn turns for AirTran reflect swaps 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 24.8 0-29 min • Southwest schedules longer turns 30-44 min at congested stations that are Minutes of Delay 45-59 min associated with longer delays 60-74 min • Therefore WN demonstrates the 75-89 min 5.4 opposite pattern as others – as 4.5 3.8 3.5 5 3.3 2.8 2.5 2.4 2.2 1.690-119 min 1.2 turn time goes up, so do delays 120+ min 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 Scheduled Turn Time SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com) (5 minute increments)
  8. 8. SCHEDULED VS. ACTUAL TURNSScheduled vs. Actual Turns at GatesActual time on gate averages higher than scheduled time Mainline Only Scheduled Actual Difference Different factors drive a longer Southwest 34.6 min 42.6 min +8.0 min actual time on gate than scheduled AirTran 48.8 50.5 +1.7 JetBlue 51.2 59.1 +7.9 • Actual turn is time on gate, not the time Spirit 53.9 57.7 +3.8 required to deplane, clean/prep, and board Delta 58.0 67.1 +9.1 • Each airline demonstrated longer actual Alaska 58.8 62.2 +3.4 turns than scheduled turns American 61.4 70.4 +9.0 United 63.0 76.1* +13.1* • Drivers include strong A0 performance, Virgin 63.3 73.6 +10.3 conservative blocks, long-haul flights US Airways 66.1 71.2 +5.1 • However, actual turns also exhibit airline- Mainline & specific turn time issues (WN and UA) Scheduled Actual Difference Regionals United 49.5 min 58.3 min +8.8 min* • Blue table shows mainline operations only American 51.1 58.4 7.3 • Red table includes regional carriers Alaska 53.0 56.6 3.6 US Airways 55.1 58.1 3.0 • Note turn performance by regional carriers Delta 55.2 62.3 7.1 • Smaller aircraft, gate checked bags* Reflects IT cutover SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  9. 9. G AT E U T I L I Z AT I O NNow let’s look at daily utilization of gatesWhich carriers extract the most turns per gate? Daily Departures per Gate Used Not surprisingly, the more carriers June 1 through August 31, 2012 Gates with minimum 1x daily use use gates, the lower the scheduled turn times by airline must be Top 10 U.S. System Airports • The shorter the turn, the more rotations Southwest 8.4 flights/day 7.5 flights/day the airline can squeeze out of a given gate American 6.4 5.4 • But buffer times and density of utilization Alaska 6.4 4.7 vary widely by carrier. United 6.3 4.9 • Carrier gate utilization at key hubs generally US Airways 6.3 5.2 exceeds utilization over their U.S. system JetBlue 5.7 5.1 • At competitive hubs, higher gate utilization; AirTran 5.6 4.4 at non-competitive hubs, gate squatting as Delta 5.2 4.7 competitive deterrenceSOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  10. 10. U T I L I Z AT I O N B Y H U BDaily Utilization of Gates, by HubSurveying different carriers – daily departures per gate used, for hubs & focus cities United Airlines Hubs Alaska Airlines Hubs American Hubs Average Daily Deps per Gate Used Average Daily Deps per Gate Used Average Daily Deps per Gate Used CLE 3.6 SJC 4.0 JFK 2.7 IAD 3.8 LAX 4.3 MIA 5.0 IAH 5.8 GEG 4.4 DEN 6.1 SFO 5.3 LGA 6.4 EWR 6.2 ANC 5.4 LAX 6.8 SFO 7.2 PDX 5.5 DFW 6.9 LAX 7.4 SAN 6.4 ORD 7.7 SEA 7.8 ORD 7.2 JetBlue Focus US Airways Hubs AirTran Hubs Average Daily Deps per Gate Used Average Daily Deps per Gate Used Average Daily Deps per Gate Used FLL 4.9 BOS 4.2 MKE 4.7 DCA 5.2 PHX 4.9 ATL 5.5 MCO 5.8 PHL 6.6 BOS 5.8 BWI 5.9 DCA 6.9 JFK 6.0 CLT 7.2 MCO 6.6 LGB 6.2SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com) June 1 through August 31, 2012. Gates with minimum 1x daily use
  11. 11. U T I L I Z AT I O N B Y H U BDaily Utilization of Gates, by Hub (2)Surveying different carriers – daily departures per gate used, for hubs & focus cities Delta Hubs Southwest Focus There are substantial Average Daily Deps per Gate Used Average Daily Deps per Gate Used differences in how SouthwestMEM 2.9 PHX 7.2 operates its focus airportsCVG 3.5 MDW 7.5 Fast and consistent paceJFK 4.0 HOU 7.5 40 minutes on gate, 20 minutes bufferBOS 4.6 MCO 7.9 Minimal banking – rolling systemDTW 4.6 LAX 8.3 In contrast, Delta:MSP 4.8 DAL 8.4 Uses larger aircraft at hubs –SLC 5.2 DEN 8.5 requires longer turn timesLGA 5.4 OAK 8.5 Hub average gate departures still below United, American, US AirwaysLAX 5.8 LAS 9.5 (6x vs. 7-8x daily)ATL 6.3 BWI 10.3 Also reflects Delta strategy of controlling gate assets June 1 through August 31, 2012. Gates with minimum 1x daily useSOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  12. 12. HOLD OUTSTight Turns and HoldoutsWhat percent of daytime flights likely arrive to an occupied gate or ramp area? Delta American US Airways DCA 16.1% DFW 20.8% PHX 15.9% ATL 14.4% MIA 16.4% LGA 14.7% BOS 11.2% LAS 15.2% CLT 9.9% MCO 10.9% ORD 14.6% DCA 8.6% PHL 10.0% CLT 14.6% DTW 8.0% LGA 10.0% ATL 13.8% LAX 7.9% SEA 9.0% LAX 12.6% PHL 6.7% MSP 8.1% DTW 10.0% CMH 5.9% LAX 8.0% BNA 10.0% ORD 3.4% IND 7.2% DEN 9.2% EWR 3.4% CLT 6.7% LGA 7.1% BOS 2.7% SLC 6.5% DCA 7.0% PIT 2.4% June 1 through August 31, 2012. Gates with minimum 1x daily use.SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com) Tight turn is less than 10 minutes open buffer (last out to next in)
  13. 13. HOLD OUTSTight Turns and Holdouts (2)United and Southwest show similar patterns United Southwest Interestingly, WN is similar toSFO 22.2% LAS 20.4% others in the percent of flights that hold out after landingORD 20.7% SEA 17.2% Tightly orchestrated ballet at WN LAX 18.1% STL 15.9% IAH 14.8% BWI 14.8% Not much block padding – Just in time arrivalsDEN 14.2% LAX 13.8% Explains why when things go wrong,EWR 13.0% DEN 12.8% delays transfer downstream quicklyDFW 7.3% AUS 12.7% LAS 7.0% SFO 11.7% Compare to United STL 6.2% MCO 10.2% UA has longer time on gate to absorbMSP 6.0% SNA 9.2% late inbound delays, but has similar buffers between flightsCOS 6.0% HOU 9.1%PDX 5.7% ABQ 8.8% Different block strategy than WN June 1 through August 31, 2012. Gates with minimum 1x daily use.SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com) Tight turn is less than 10 minutes open buffer (last out to next in)
  14. 14. U T I L I Z AT I O N V S . H O L D - O U T SConnecting gate planning to delaysIt is possible to quantitatively connect gate congestion with delay minutes Gate Utilization vs. A broad-based comparison of gate % of Hold-Out/Close Waits utilization demonstrates a positive 25.0% correlation between gate utilization and flights waiting for open gates 20.0% When a flight waits for a gate, it transfers delay minutes and is associated with increased carrier-Hold-Outs and Close Waits caused delay minutes 15.0% Increase in Delay Minutes after 10.0% Inbound Flight Waits for Gate Delay mins at Delay mins Airline airport by from late 5.0% (Mainline) carrier inbound a/c Southwest +41% +20% US Airways +13% +4% 0.0% 3.0 5.0 7.0 9.0 Delta +2% +18% Gate Departures per Day American +6% +18% United +6% +7% Close Turn Linear (Close Turn)SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  15. 15. D E L AY G E N E R AT I O NSo where are delays generated?Delay generation is outbound departure delay minus inbound arrival delay, by turn Delta Airlines United Airlines Southwest Airlines (July 2012) (July 2012) (July 2012) LAS 3.8 ORD 3.6 DEN 4.4 SFO 1.6 SFO 2.5 LAS 4.3 LGA 1.5 LAX 2.5 BWI 3.8 SLC 0.6 IAH 1.5 PHX 3.7 MSP 0.5 EWR 1.3 MDW 3.2 SEA 0.3 DEN 0.4 HOU 2.2 DTW 0.0 SEA 0.1 LAX 0.8 DCA -0.3 IAD -0.3 OAK 0.5 ATL -0.5 SAN -0.8 STL 0.0 LAX -0.8 MCO -1.6 MCO -0.7 MCO -1.2 LAS -1.8 DAL -0.7 JFK -1.2 BOS -2.5 TPA -0.7 FLL -1.2 PDX -3.9 SAN -1.3 MEM -1.5 CLE -6.1 BNA -1.4 TPA -1.9 HNL -8.9 SJC -2.2 Flights during July 2012 (domestic + international, mainline + regional). A positive number indicates the airport generates delays.SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com) A negative number indicates that the airport absorbs delays.
  16. 16. G AT E C H O I C EGate choice impacts on-time performanceWhere a carrier gates specific flights impacts their on-time performance Boston Logan Average Taxi-Out Times by Gate (June-Aug 2012)Terminal C at JetBlue has deep alleyswhere push-backs block ramp access• Inside gates (C11, C12, C26, C40-42) have 2-3 minute longer taxi times 21.3 • C11 and C12 subject to conflicting 19.1 operations by United Airlines 19.8 • Both taxi-in and taxi-out 17.7 18.7 18.3• This has an observable impact on 17.6 on-time performance when utilizing gates 17.8 20.5 20.4 • C11 and C12 – up to 72% on-time 17.9 20.4 17.4 • C26, C40, C42 – up to 75% on-time 18.8 18.5 • C33 to C36 – up to 79% on-time Three months of operations, June 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012 SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  17. 17. G AT E C H O I C EAnother example of gate blocking: BWISouthwest’s Baltimore terminal has significant ramp issues too Baltimore (Terminal A/B) 14.6 Terminal A’s north finger creates a 12.2 15.3 blocking and delay problem for 3 gates 12.4 15.4 11.8 • Gates A6, A8 and A10 have 2-3 minutes longer taxi-out times than others 11.9 11.8 • Notable difference in delay performance 12.1 • 66-68% summer on-time arrival rate for flights departing from these gates 12.6 11.9 • 72-74% for flights departing other 12.4 A-gates at BWI airport 11.3 12.1 • Assignment of flights to these gates Average Taxi-Out should be strategic, incorporating block Times by Gate time adjustments to minimize delays 12.1 Three months of operations, June 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  18. 18. CONCLUSIONSConclusions: Turn Times This project observed three different strategies for turn times, varying based on the gauge of aircraft and product strategy of the airline • Major hubs with large aircraft – 45-60 minute turns • Major hubs with small aircraft – 30-44 minute turns • Low-cost carriers – few turns greater than 45 mins • What are the relevant factors? • Aircraft size, length of haul • Complexity of onboard product & carry-on bags • Time of day and wheelchairs • Drivers of actual turn times include A0 performance, block padding and airline-specific issuesSOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  19. 19. CONCLUSIONSConclusions: Gate Utilization Gate utilization depends on real estate controlled, competitiveness of market, and banking strategies • Airlines with shorter turn times generally extract more departures each day from gate assets • However the converse isn’t always so – carriers with fewer gate departures may just squat on assets to deter competition, particularly from efficient LCCs • Airline utilization by hub varies widely. Highly banked international hubs (JFK, IAD) often have the lowest daily utilization. Also, dying hubs (CLE, MEM) • Southwest clearly emphasizes gate utilization to maximize efficiency. Combined with very short turn times, this creates operational bottlenecks when operations go off-track.SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)
  20. 20. CONCLUSIONSConclusions: Delay ImpactUtilization, turn times, and even gate selection impact on-timeperformance and necessitate incorporation into block planning• Hold-outs and taxi-in delays can impact up to 20% of operations at a busy hub. Based on carriers analyzed, on average 10% of day flights wait for gate or ramp congestion to clear.• You’d expect Southwest to hold out, but they don’t any more than others• As scheduled turn time increases, inbound delays are absorbed and departure delays decrease. This is true for all carriers except Southwest (where longer turns are programmed at congested airports that generate delays)• Delay generation by airport varies. You’d expect NYC to generate delays, but carriers build NYC delays into scheduled turns. Chicago and San Francisco, in contrast, have more unexpected delays that drive higher net generation.• Gate choice matters. The difference in taxi-in and taxi-out times for gates at the end of a pier can be 2-3 minutes shorter than locations at the base of a pier. • This can make a significant difference in on-time performance!SOURCE: masFlight (masflight.com)

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