This paper introduces a new type of constraints, related to schedule synchronization, in the problem formulation of aircraft fleet assignment and routing problems and it proposes an optimal solution approach. This approach is based on Dantzig-Wolfe decomposition/column generation. The resulting master problem consists of flight covering constraints, as in usual applications, and of schedule synchronization constraints. The corresponding subproblem is a shortest path problem with time windows and linear costs on the time variables and it is solved by an optimal dynamic programming algorithm. This column generation procedure is embedded into a branch and bound scheme to obtain integer solutions. A dedicated branching scheme was devised in this paper where the branching decisions are imposed on the time variables. Computational experiments were conducted using weekly fleet routing and scheduling problem data coming from an European airline. The test problems are solved to optimality. A detailed result analysis highlights the advantages of this approach: an extremely short subproblem solution time and, after several improvements, a very efficient master problem solution time.
Paru en octobre 1994 , 27 pages
Ce cahier a été révisé en juillet 1997