The purpose of this post is to look beyond the alpha when the dev team start considering the next implementation of the flight scheduling system within the game. I’ve got no intention of critiquing the current system which we’ve seen snippets of in the gameplay videos but would rather start a conversation about the next iteration of this system.
Firstly, I think scheduling needs to have a couple of fundamental principles which underpin it. Time should be a critical factor when it comes to scheduling. Certain times of the day will be substantially more valuable and sought after by airlines than others, I’m thinking morning and afternoon commuter flights here vs red-eye flights leaving in the middle of the night. It is also highly plausible that a flight may land in the morning, say on Monday, then sit at the gate until Tuesday morning, so the airline can time the departing flight appropriately with the expected arrival time at the country of destination.
This would/could have a major impact on airport operations if the player didn’t manage their schedule appropriately. Imagine a scenario where a number of flights land, take up the available gates, then all sit there for 12 - 24 hours or more, not a great idea from an operational perspective.
Keeping with time, it’s also important that the player consider the amount of time it takes for an aircraft of particular size to land/taxi/board/unboard/fuel etc so as not to create bottlenecks throughout their network, not taking these things into account could mean you end up with 4 large flights all landing/taking off at similar times, placing unnecessary strain on all airport systems, where if the flights were appropriately placed this could be managed better. The role of the Airport CEO in this scenario is understanding what the state of their existing schedule looks like and whether or not to accept this new airline offer.
This segways nicely into airline offers themselves. Airlines are businesses and they want to make the most money possible for themselves. They do this by providing differing levels of service and price to customers, but also by offering flights at different times of the day. When a new offer is received from an airline, that airline should be requesting to use your airport at or around a particular time of the day (maybe a 2-3 hour window could be offered for the landing and take off times) this is because the airline should drive this part of the schedule, not the airport.
It’s not up to the airline to figure out if their flight can land at 8am, it’s up to the CEO to appropriately schedule flights so there aren’t competing priorities, and at times it may mean turning down a contract because the CEO cannot fit the flight into the schedule based on the requirements of the airline.
So with this in mind, when contracts or offers are made from an airline, they should contain the following elements for consideration,
- aircraft type
- fuel requirements (and other service requirements)
- arrival time
- departure time (and possibly day if a different day)
- frequency (based on Monday through Sunday), so the same plane will land and take off at the same times at that frequency. This means the CEO could schedule up to 14 flights (7x2) in one action.
These are just some initial thoughts, I’m interested to hear what you guys all think!