Article | Transportation Science

Equitable and Efficient Coordination in Traffic Flow Management

by Cynthia Barnhart, Dimitris Bertsimas, Constantine Caramanis and Douglas S. Fearing


When air traffic demand is projected to exceed capacity, the FAA implements Traffic Flow Management programs. Independently, these programs maintain a first-scheduled, first-served invariant, which is the accepted standard of fairness within the industry. Coordinating conflicting programs requires a careful balance between equity and efficiency. In our work, we first develop a fairness metric to measure deviation from first-scheduled, first-served in the presence of program conflicts. Next, we develop an IP formulation that minimizes a convex approximation of this metric. We further develop an exponential penalty approach and show that its computational performance is far superior and its trade-off between delay and fairness compares favorably. In our results, we demonstrate the effectiveness of these models using historical and hypothetical scenarios. Additionally, we demonstrate that the exponential penalty approach exhibits exceptional computational performance, implying practical viability. Our results suggest that this approach could lead to system-wide savings on the order of $25 million to $50 million per year.

Keywords: traffic flow management; ground holding programs; equitable flight delay; Equity; Saving; Management; Management Practices and Processes; Demand and Consumers; Performance Capacity; Performance Efficiency; Conflict and Resolution; System; Aerospace Industry;


Barnhart, Cynthia, Dimitris Bertsimas, Constantine Caramanis, and Douglas S. Fearing. "Equitable and Efficient Coordination in Traffic Flow Management." Transportation Science 46, no. 2 (May 2012).