Flight-to-Gate Assignment: Methods and Complexities at Different Planning Horizons

nagoya-300x221The flight-to-gate assignment problem is encountered by gate managers and capacity planners at airports in general on a periodic basis. The ‘sense of urgency’ for notifying and managing the imbalances of demand for and supply of gates in an early stage grows due to the higher occupation rate of gates compared to previous years at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AAS). Capacity planners need computational tools for capacity analyses to face the complex decision making process on gate infrastructure and procedures. Current methods described in literature for the flight-to-gate assignment problem are reviewed.

Subsequently, the most appropriate method for capacity planning on tactical level is chosen and reasoned. Since the flight-to-gate assignment problem has the characteristics of a NPhard class of problem there is no known algorithm for finding the optimal solution within a polynomial-bounded amount of time. Several attempts to find sub-optimal solutions to the flight-to-gate assignment problem are made and described in literature, however practical usability and tests with a large set of data is missing. Available commercial tools are based on the rule-based technique and a heuristics scheduling method to find a near-optimal solution. Based on the arguments described in the previous two sentences it is suggested to use the rule-based technique with a heuristic method for the decision support tool at AAS.

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