Airline Network Planning Considering Climate Impact: Assessing New Operational Improvements

M. Noorafza, Bruno F. Santos, Alexei Sharpanskykh, Zarah L. Zengerling, Christian M. Weder, Florian Linke, V. Grewe

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The aviation industry has set an ambitious goal of reducing its climate impacts. Accordingly, airlines must balance their plans according to this goal with financial considerations. We developed a multi-objective framework to facilitate climate-aware network design by incorporating the objective to minimise the flight average temperature response (ATR) when optimising the airline network. We also assessed the operational improvements (OIs) which are introduced to improve sustainability in airline operations. In particular, we considered intermediate stop-overs (ISOs) and lower flight altitudes as OIs in our case studies. We analysed the impact of considering the climate impact in the planning of operations of three different airline types: one main-hub-and-spoke (KLM), one smaller multi-hub airline (TAP), and one low-cost carrier (EasyJet). The results show that airlines could also lower their environmental impact by 10–36% when considering the ATR as an objective. However, this would require an 8–20% reduction in profits. Adopting lower-altitude flying with ISO could mitigate their climate impact by 27–49% while reducing profits by approximately 6%. Our study highlights the importance of considering the airline network as a whole and demonstrates the potential benefits of operational improvements from a network perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • network planning
  • climate impact
  • non-CO2 effects
  • intermediate stop-over
  • average temperature response
  • multi-agent systems
  • dynamic programming


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