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Advanced Capacity and Demand Management for European Network Performance Optimization

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CADENZA (Advanced Capacity and Demand Management for European Network Performance Optimization)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-07-31

CADENZA project addresses the problem many European air travellers have been facing for several years now – high air traffic delays. Although the problem of high traffic delays has been alleviated after the start of COVID-19, due to substantial traffic drop, this problem is expected to arise again once the traffic levels go close to the pre-COVID levels (based on the experience with the economic crisis in 2009). Moreover, flights sometimes take longer-than-necessary routes in Europe, which result in higher emissions. One of the main reasons for delays and flight inefficiencies in Europe is mismatch between demand, that is number of flights, and available capacities in the European airspace.

CADENZA aims to tackle these problems by proposing a novel concept of establishing balance between demand and capacity in the European network, which we argue, will improve the network performance. Namely, in our project we are exploring a so-called “trajectory broker concept” for the European network, incorporating advanced capacity-demand balancing mechanisms. We build upon the findings of the 2019 Jane’s-ATC-Innovation-award-winning SESAR Exploratory Research project COCTA, as well as upon latest industry developments. The trajectory broker will balance capacity and demand through a coordinated capacity provision process and collaborative trajectory management (including a novel trajectory charging scheme). We expect significant improvements in cost-efficiency as well as positive impacts on other key performance indicators, especially a reduction of delays. To evaluate all the potential benefits, and point out potential showstoppers, we are conducting a number of experiments with the mathematical models we have developed. A high degree of stakeholder involvement – including an industry expert panel and stakeholder workshops – ensures practical relevance.
During the first year of the project, we progress in line with a plan, albeit with some minor deviation due to COVID-19 pandemic. First, we set up an online platform to create a virtual collaborative working environment for document writing, research progress tracking, task and to do list, etc. all of which was planned in our Project Management Plan. We launched the CADENZA website and opened Twitter ( and LinkedIn ( accounts, and drafted the initial plan for communicating, disseminating and exploiting the project results.

Research wise, we defined and developed the abovementioned concept of a Trajectory Broker in several different design options for demand-capacity balancing. In the selection and definition process, we were guided by the assembled Expert Panel, a group of 12 highly renowned professionals from the industry. Based on the concepts, we developed initial mathematical models for network performance optimisation, considering also business and operational aspects and requirements from the key operational stakeholders – airlines and capacity providers. We are currently running initial experiments and model testing using real data.

In terms of results, the CADENZA project has produced nine deliverables, of which four are related to core research activities, three deliverables are related to project planning and management, communication, dissemination of results, one for data management and one for ethics compliance. We have already submitted two papers to two of the leading journals in the transportation field. Also, we presented CADENZA in several conferences and events already.
Even at this stage in the project, we have already progress beyond the state of the art. Namely, we have already progressed with mathematical models for strategic decisions, which are now of stochastic nature and based on the initial results, yield more robust results compared to the previous state of the art. Also, we developed a completely novel model for pre-tactical/tactical demand management with so called “trajectory products” and dynamic trajectory charging principles applied. As stated above, these two models are the core part of two CADENZA publications, which are now under revision in journals.

The potential major impact of the CADENZA project remain unchanged one year after the project. We expect a primary impact on cost-efficiency and lower total cost for airlines, which could potentially lead to lower fares for passengers. With the proposed novel concept, CADENZA operations should allow more traffic to be handled with the same level of capacity and also to reduce delays imposed on airlines. We also expect the overall impact on the environment to be on the positive side. With airport-pair charging principles, a future Trajectory Broker does not send incentives to airlines to file longer routes (and burn more fuel), to save on route charges (which are presently deployed). Moreover, a future Trajectory Broker does not have an incentive to offer longer routes to AUs, unless in cases where it is more cost-efficient and depending on the environmental policy set by the decision maker (who can make longer routes unattractive to airlines through additional charges).