Scheduling/Contract overhaul

Disclaimer: I’m aware that other people have had very similar ideas to the one below that they’ve shared on the site, although not as in-depth, and features a bunch of different ideas, so I thought it warranted it’s own post/thread.

The current flight scheduling system is a bit boring. Drag and drop flights into gates, check back every day to see if they’ve expired and drop another gate down if they have. Not much strategy required from the player, and you might as well just switch on the auto-scheduler, because it’s repetitive micro-management.

The solution I think would work best, would make the scheduling aspect more strategy focused and critical to the operations, while removing the daily micro-management grind of adding flights taking my focus away from other management aspect areas.

New contract/slot system
Airlines would offer new contracts for every flight added, and each flight would be long term. Possibly yearly, with the option to maintain their slot if renewing the contract.
A contract would outline the requirements for the flight, such as the time of day that the departure and landing occurs.

Contract example:

Maple wishes to commence a new flight to [Your Airport, ‘YOU’]

  • Flight: MP123
  • Route: XXX-YOU
  • Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
  • Capacity: 164 Economy
  • Frequency: 3x Weekly (M~~T~S~)
  • Arrival: Morning (6am to 10am)
  • Departure: Night (6pm to 10pm)
  • Terminal: T2

Contract expires: 1 year
Renewal options: 5 years

Upon accepting a contract, two drag and drop boxes will show up - one for arrival, and one for departure. Highlighted areas would appear where boxes can be dragged; so if the contract stated a morning arrival then the flight must be scheduled for arrival within the 6am - 10am period. Flight times outside of the contract will be greyed out, or may result in fines due to breach of contract.

The flexibility of the time slots would vary, based on the airline and offered contract. Some airlines might have lots of flexibility, such as premium airlines, so the landing and departure slots will be broad in the contract. Others, such as budget airlines, may be precise on scheduling, and require an XX:XX departure and arrival due to the need for a shot turnaround for profitability.
Note: In regards to flights departing/arriving many hours apart, I’ve noticed sometimes slot constraints at busy airports force aircraft to be parked overnight or all day at the destination airport that offers cheaper slots. I’d like to see this mirrored in ACEO, where the aircraft is towed from the gate to a remote stand for a few hours (to free the gate up for another flight) before being towed back to a gate for the next flight.

As your airport grows, the number of offered flight contracts increases, all varying in flexibility. Most flights would be offered for morning or evening peaks, with contracts being harder to find for off-peak. You’ll be incentivised to accept offers for aircraft to be parked all day, due to the rate they’ll be paying.

Contractual Obligations
Contractually, there will be Options for contract extensions at the same fee if they decide to renew. This may sound like a good thing, but it may screw you over. If the value of your airport increases, the rates will increase too, and you may be contractually stuck with a low fee offer for 5 or more years if the contract stated options for 5 years. After a contract is fully expired, you have the option of renewing again for the same fee, or renegotiating the contract, hoping they won’t pull out due to fee increases.

Negotiation and renegotiation of a contract could be a button. A constant gamble. You can accept or negotiate a higher fee. If you push the negotiation button too far, then the airline may end up terminating the offer all together, or decreasing the offer.

Terminals would be distinguished by the facilities they provide. Terminals with more amenities and facilities are higher in value, and will attract premium airlines with premium offers. Terminals with lower value will attract budget airlines.

Auto gate assignment
Gate assignment would be automatic, always parking at the terminal listed in the contract, around 24 hours or so before arrival/departure.
An airline could buy out or lease a gate, which allows the auto assignment to prioritise the airline-owned gate. (Airlines within alliances could also co-own or share gates).
This seems more realistic, since from what I’ve seen irl, daily flights don’t park at the same gate every single day unless the gate is owned by the airline at slot constrained airports.

Current contract/scheduling system is a grind. Changes proposed:
-Switch movements to a runway slot system instead of a gate slot system.
-Contracts offered for individual indefinite flights
-Varied flexibility in flight contracts
-Contracts can screw you over
-Airlines can buy/lease gates and facilities at the airport via contract
-Airport automatically assigns gates to flights 24 hours prior.