Airline mitigation of propagated delays via schedule buffers: Theory and empirics

Jan K. Brueckner, Achim I. Czerny, Alberto A. Gaggero

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents an extensive theoretical and empirical analysis of the choice of schedule buffers by airlines. With airline delays a continuing problem around the world, such an undertaking is valuable, and its lessons extend to other passenger transportation sectors. One useful lesson from the theoretical analysis of a two-flight model is that the mitigation of delay propagation is done entirely by the ground buffer and the second flight's buffer. The first flight's buffer plays no role because the ground buffer is a perfect, while nondistorting, substitute. In addition, the apportionment of mitigation responsibility between the ground buffer and the second flight's buffer is shown to depend on the relationship between the costs of ground- and flight-buffer time. The empirical results show the connection between buffer magnitudes and a host of explanatory variables, including the variability of flight times, which simulations of the model identify as an important determining factor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102333
JournalTransportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Airline scheduling
  • Delay propagation
  • Flight buffer
  • Ground buffer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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