Improved contract system/airport-airline relationship

Advance warning: This is long, but very detailed
Currently the process for getting contracts/making money is pretty basic:

  • Build terminal with as many check in desks and gates as possible
  • Hire loads of staff
  • Accept loads of airline contracts until the flight planner is full
  • Watch the money flow in

As it currently stands the only things the airline supplies are the aircraft. This is very different to real life where airlines ‘rent’ facilities from the airport so that they can operate their flights. Eg, airlines sometimes rent office space for administrative work. So I think airline contracts should be reworked, with changes to requirements, type of contract, and airline-airport relationship, discussed below.

Contract requirements
Airlines should demand the following (anything requiring other content to be added which is not related to the contract system (like hangars) is marked with a ‘?’):

  • Check in desks. Currently these are assigned at random, and reassigned every flight. In the real world, airlines rent check in desks and then they make an internal decision as to which check-in desks are used for which flights. I think it would be better if you had to specify which check in desks the airline could use before accepting the contract.
  • Arrival/departure slots. The airline would give a time frame as to roughly when they are planning on running flights. The CEO, would then be able to give specific time within this time frame as to when the flights would run
  • Staff room size. Smaller contracts may not require a staff room at all, but larger airlines with lots of staff may want somewhere for their staff to relax (access to toilet facilities could be part of this)
  • Number of office desks. Office desks would be placed in an ‘office’ room (?), which is a new type of room that could be added for this purpose. Airlines would require a set number of office desks for their staff to work at, which would be specified in the contract. You can allocate an airline to an office which is slightly larger than what they require (and therefore make them pay more money for facilities that they don’t plan on using), but this would decrease your reputation with the airline. If the room is far too large then the airline may not accept the contract at all.
  • Baggage and fuel services (already implemented so not much to say here). Some airlines may want baggage and fuel services, others may want only one or neither (this could be expanded when catering, de icing and other services are implemented).
  • Number of hangars (?)(If hangars get implemented). Airlines need to repair/perform maintenance on their aircraft, and in doing so, will have to rent hangars in order to do so.

Accepting a contract
Obviously the way you accept contracts will have to change to match the new criteria. I think that the best way to do this would be to have an ‘assign’ button next to each of the criteria. You then drag and drop over the facilities that the airline wants, similar to the assigning system for baggage bays and check in desks etc. The only criteria that won’t have an assign button would be the one stating the number of flights, and the times planned for each flight. After assigning the other facilities, you sign the contract, and are then expected to assign flights at the times that the airline wants them. This can be done via the current system, with your reputation with the airline increasing if you schedule their flights close to the times requested, and reputation decreasing for schedules that are far away from the times requested. Reputation will be severely affected if you completely miss flights (and maybe you will have to pay a fine/compensation to the airline)

This will determine how many flights the airline will schedule, how many facilities the airline will rent out, and ultimately, how much money you make. Reputation can be increased by:

  • Servicing flights quickly and efficiently
  • Scheduling flights close to the desired times
  • Being reliable (no delays/cancellations)

Reputation can be decreased by:

  • Over-assigning facilities to airlines. If an airline wants an office for 10 employees, and you make them rent an office with 30 office desks, they won’t be happy about paying for desks they don’t need.
  • Missing/delayed flights. This could also result in a fine/compensation to the airline.

Contract progression
Contracts will be split into tiers. Initially, airlines will send you low-tier contracts as they don’t really know you very well, but over time, as your reputation builds, airlines may want to expand operations at your airport. To do this, they may send you a new contract of a higher tier with additional requirements, which would obviously be more profitable but requires more infrastructure. The tiers could be organised like the following:

  • Tier 4. An airline wants to begin operations and start running low capacity flights with small aircraft. These contracts would only require check in desks and maybe a small staff room for airline staff.
  • Tier 3. The Airline wants to expand their operations. The airline may start requesting office space, staff rooms and more check in desks.
  • Tier 2. The Airline wants to make your airport a major destination. They will request office space, staff rooms, lots of check in desks and will start running more flights with larger aircraft.
  • Tier 1. The airline wants to use your airport as a hub. They will request lots of office space, several staff rooms and many check in desks. They will run frequent flights to various destinations with all types of aircraft.

As your reputation with one airline progresses, it may also boost your reputation amongst the entire airline industry. This means that if you have a Tier 1 contract with an airline, it is highly unlikely that you will get Tier 4 contracts. New airlines wishing to begin operations at your airport may then start straight from Tier 3 or 2.

Contract regression/failure
If your reputation stays consistently low for a long period of time, the airline may start scaling back operations, and charging you fines to pay compensation for their passengers. If you keep on missing flights or otherwise not meeting the criteria then the airline will cancel their contract, and your reputation across the entire airline industry could suffer as a result.

If you are still here, thanks for reading! Please comment any thoughts/criticism about this.

(A slightly less detailed version of this was posted in the jira not too long ago, then I came here, read the FAQ, and noticed the bit where they said its better to post longer suggestions here, which is why this thread exists. Stupid of me I know, so if the devs are reading this, feel free to delete ACEO 4735 if its clogging up the workflow).


A small comment. Renting desks (or even concourses) is a domain of North American market and maybe some huge airports. In small-medium world infrastructure is shared. Agree with the requirements though.

I think the contract should also include what type of aircraft is offered, currently we specify what percentage of each aircraft type we want in the planner, this should be the decision of the airline and we should choose the contracts appropriately depending on what percentage we want.

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I think the whole leasing and assigning system is too complicated, but I like the idea that the contract relationship is dynamic and might regress or fail. It will prevent people from just accepting more and more contracts with random airlines. There should be an incentive for the CEO to invest in business relationships with airlines (the tier system is a good idea) and to maintain or maybe cut ties (and pay a fine) to one specific airline. The company should be more than just a name on a list. The airlines you accept at your airport should feel like “your” airlines.

I also like the idea of time frames, this would make the whole flight planning more challenging than just stuffing all the flights into random gate slots.

With multi terminal airports coming, there also should be the possibility to assign certain terminals to certain airlines. Maybe not with a “lease” system, but at least assign them somehow. A company could come up with the demand “we want Terminal B for our flights, with at least 5 gates and 10 check in desks run regularly” and you figure out if you can meet this. You could also make one terminal a “low budget airline terminal” like in Kuala Lumpur, which is the main hub for one big low budget airline and serves them almost exclusively. Of course, less entertainment and less luxury there.

Anything that makes the game more strategic and less automated is a winner for me.

To pick up the idea of office space: It’s common for bigger airports that airlines who operate there have own offices in the entrance hall. Passengers can usually book flights there, ask where their luggage is, just complain, etc. Maybe the airlines should just require office space of a certain size (should be small space, as those offices are not very big, normally) as part of the contract, as contract relationships progress. Some might even demand them from the very start of the contract relation.

There should not be certain “goals” to fulfill, like selling 1000 units in 4 days, but maybe, those offices could show if something went wrong. E.g. if your flight is delayed again, a lot of people would stand there and complain and maybe, you will get an angry e-mail from your business partner or have to pay fines.

I would like fulfillment goals like xxx number of dictated ramps or check in counters like with store contracts certain needs need to be met before you can take the contract.
I would also like to see in the contract if its a 1-2-3-4* contract as of now they are vague.
I have several contracts with 0% satisfaction if performance gets too low contracts should be pulled by the airline.

@me6472 I really like your ideas. Regarding the contract requirements, I would add a certain requirements that you can also often see in real-life:

  • Aircraft stand configuration: Passenger boarding bridge available [yes/no]. For Ryanair, easyJet and the likes a simple stand on the tarmac with a passenger bus is sufficient, whereas for your American Airline’s, Lufthansa’s etc. they might request/prefer a passenger boarding bridge stand

  • Quality of Check-In / Boarding area: At a later stage of the game there might be check-in counters of various qualities.

  • Lounge: Quality airlines will require a lounge for their passengers. Also something for a later stage

  • Runway / infrastructure: Some airlines might request an upgrade of the runway to an ILS CAT IIIb before they operate their largest aircraft or their high-important flights into your airport.

I really like your idea about a progression of contracts. It would add some long-term fun to the game. I would differentiate between an airline/airport rating and an overall airport rating. The airline/airport rating is only relevant for better deals from the airline (more flights, larger aircraft, more fees per pax), whereas the overall airport rating can attract higher valued airline contracts in general.

No matter how the whole system is eventually implemented by the Developers, it certainly is a very important “building block” for the game as it would be the groundwork for many many different possibilities that will positively affect the long-term fun of the game.

That’s a very well detailed post. I am totally on board with most of these ideas since I believe we need more incentives/penalties for contracts that will drive a more strategic plan around building your terminal and choosing what airlines/flights you want to service.

I like these ideas, all of them.

Especially flight scheduling. Currently I just pretend that the airline concerned has requested a flight/flights to my airport, and I then offer them an available slot. I would say with preferred times, that you get paid more if you schedule within these times, and less (or no flight at all), if you don’t.

@JWKIII, I also like your idea of stand configuration, where not all airlines want to use airbridges, Ryanair, Easyjet etc. as you indicated. You can have multipurpose stands, with doors and an airbridge, for the airline to use as desired and they pay accordingly.

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I think your post is very detailed and I will definitely vote for it when voting opens but one small criticism. Often when there is a missing passenger or the flight landed late. The fine is actually on the airline not the airport. Since in these cases it is the airlines fault the fine is placed on the airline. When it is things on the ground involving ramp agents. Usually the workers are hired by a company then the airline has a contract with that company. In this case the airline usually places the fine on the company.

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