Airline scheduling is composed of fleet assignment, aircraft maintenance routing, and crew scheduling optimization subproblems. It is believed that the full optimization problem is computationally intractable, and hence the constituent subproblems are optimized sequentially so that the output of one is the input of the next. The sequential approach, however, provides an overall suboptimal solution and can also fail to satisfy the maintenance constraints of an otherwise feasible full problem. In this paper several integrated models for the optimization of airline scheduling are presented for the first time, and solved by applying an enhanced Benders decomposition method combined with accelerated column generation. Solutions of several realistic data sets are computed using the integrated models, which are compared with solutions of the best known approaches from the literature. As a result, the integrated approach significantly reduces airline costs. Finally, a comparison of alternative formulations has shown that keeping the crew scheduling problem alone in the Benders subproblem is much more efficient than keeping the aircraft routing problem. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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