A few weeks ago I went on a weekend trip with my sister to Miami. She’s a New Yorker and I’m from Kentucky, so it took some major planning to get us from two separate cities to one destination, at the same time. The logistics of our trip got me thinking about the planning process. This month UPS will add new flights from Hong Kong to Europe. I wondered what our network planning team has to do to get these flights scheduled and operating. I was certain it was way more complicated than my trip to Florida. My mission was clear: I needed to find out about air network planners and what they must do to launch this new flight.
As I started my research, I realized I first needed to understand what an air planner does. I can tell you, they do a lot. UPS has a staff of more than 60 air network planners. They plan for everything from domestic and international flights to long-range plans for aircraft acquisitions to accommodate future growth. Air network planners are responsible for evaluating market demand and the characteristics of package volume flow. Once that’s done, they determine how best to use UPS aircraft to provide the most robust transportation services in the world.
UPS has a fleet of more than 200 aircraft and global air volume that averages over 4.5 million packages and documents daily. With that many packages, the planners have a lot to consider when planning upgrades or major changes to the network.
This particular challenge was to evaluate how best to supplement our current Asia-to-Europe network while improving time-in-transit. They knew a new flight was needed to meet the fast growth between Hong Kong and Europe. Since UPS was already flying a 747-400 freighter, our largest aircraft, on this route, the planners knew it wasn’t possible to upsize the aircraft. Through creative scheduling and aircraft management, the planners were able to add an aircraft to make a new direct daily flight, offering next day service between the two continents.
In the end, I determined the skill and talent of a strong network planning team are the key ingredients to a healthy airline business model – and a task that was far beyond my vacation planning skills. The skilled planners balance market demands along with company growth to decide when to fly, what type of aircraft to fly and which routes. They look at the global demands and help make certain UPS remains compliant with all local regulations.
For our customers it is a tremendous advantage to be able to ship time-sensitive products from Hong Kong to Europe and arrive the next day. The benefits of the UPS integrated network mean that UPS customers can take care of any shipping need across the globe, whether it be small package, freight or cargo.
|Tags:||747-400, Airlines, Asia, Europe, Hong Kong, logistics, network planning|