2012 Method for predicting airport congestion in an air traffic network

Model aimed at predicting airport congestion in an air traffic network.


A methodology and a set of procedures that allow the characterization and forecast of airport congestion in an air traffic network.

It is able to predict, without any supply of real-time data, the delay generated on flights and their impact on the performance of airports that make up a network.


Delays in flights deteriorate the image of the company before its customers, in addition to damaging the balance sheets of companies due to the increase in operating costs. From the point of view of the passenger, delays can result in lost opportunities for work, leisure or economic activities, among others. All this shows the need for a tool that is able to assess in advance the efficiency and robustness of a schedule of flights and / or forecast for a particular day and the impact of delays in air traffic network.

The methodology developed by IFISC researchers  (CSIC-UIB) to characterize and forecast the impact and its influence on the performance of airports that make up the network and even detect the days when congestion can affect a significant portion of the network. The purpose of this method is the evaluation of programs, find their weaknesses and propose alternatives more resistant to disturbances such as increased traffic, bad weather, labor problems, etc. This method also allows airport network managers try different protocols for prioritization of flights and response to unexpected events before deploying.

Main advantages

  • Providing daily schedule of all commercial airlines in a given airspace, it is possible to identify those flights and / or airports that potentially will generate a distortion in the form of delays, with effect throughout the network.
  • For a particular airline or alliance of these, the system would allow them to assess their daily schedule of flights and estimate a priori where they could create major problems and may reallocate effort or reschedule flights likely to be delayed, thus trying to minimize the impact of such delays.

Innovative aspects

  • Uses the actual network N of commercial airports, and distinguishes between major and minor airports, so it takes into account all the peculiarities that influence the dynamics of the network.
  • It is possible to simulate different scenarios even against unforeseen external shocks such as adverse weather conditions, labor disputes, breakdowns, etc.
  • It takes into account the connections between various flights.
  • No need to constant input of data in real time.

Proven predictions

The model is developed and its results have been contrasted with actual episodes using data from air traffic in the United States and Europe. the collaboration of a company dedicated to developing solutions for air traffic management, which wants to develop the product and market it internationally is sought. The tool developed could be of interest to commercial airlines that want to assess the robustness of the daily schedule of its fleet against network delays, to public or private entities responsible for the management of a specific airspace.

In collaboration with:

Logotipus del Ministeri de Ciència, Innovació i Universitats