Airline operations are constantly disrupted by forces such as unions, regulatory bodies and competitors and by internal pressures including shareholder expectations for growth and profitability, potentially resulting in loss of tens, or even hundreds, of millions of dollars from the bottom line.

Airline operations departments must carefully gauge the impact of impending changes on the business and quickly devise a response that mitigates adverse effects on both costs and disruptions to daily services while ensuring optimal operational efficiency.

However, making these complex decisions without the appropriate tools and data can be very challenging. Fortunately, airline operational planning departments can now use advanced tools to develop a wide range of “what-if” scenarios to build the most efficient and cost effective crew pairings, enabling them to react to changes before they occur.

This white paper examines common uses of “what-if” modeling in the airline crew planning context, including:

  • negotiating contract terms
  • responding to new operational realities
  • understanding the impact of regulatory changes
  • expanding the business


The paper also makes a case for airline-centric optimization software as a major enabler of “what-if” modeling. A case study describes how one airline benefited from optimized crew planning software.