Jan-Rasmus Künnen successfully defends his dissertation

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Jan-Rasmus Künnen promoviert über Nachfrage-Kapazitäts-Ausgleich im europäischen Air Traffic Management

Top Result: Highest Honors with Publications in Top International Journals

On May 2, 2023, Jan-Rasmus Künnen defended his PhD thesis on "Advanced demand-capacity balancing mechanisms to improve the performance of European air traffic networks." The dissertation was evaluated with the highest grade, summa cum laude.

The dissertation deals with supply and demand management in European air traffic management, which is investigated in three articles:

In the first paper, we examine the role of the Network Manager (NM) in European air traffic. Essentially, there are two options for the NM in flight control: he can assign flights to the “network-optimal” route or allow airlines to choose their own routes. While the first option leads to better network performance, it requires airlines to delegate decision-making power to the NM. Therefore, we propose a third option: during the pre-tactical planning phase, airlines are offered various route products at different prices. The more flexible the options are in terms of possible delays or diversions, the lower the price. Airlines choose a route product based on their preferences and the dynamic price of each option, and the NM can then independently optimize the route selection based on the selected products. In the article, we develop a model to evaluate the impact of the different scenarios for decision-making on network performance. Furthermore, we develop an efficient heuristic to optimize the route selection for a large number of flights in European air traffic (and show that the problem itself is NP-hard). The numerical results show that the use of route products and dynamic prices can lead to significantly lower delay and diversion costs than if airlines independently making route choices. In addition, the mechanism still offers airlines a say in route selection, making it an attractive design for ATM in Europe.

In the second paper, which was accepted for publication in Transportation Science in April, we investigate how much airspace capacity should be provided for each airspace sector in Europe. Since unexpected changes in demand (e.g., due to non-commercial flights) or capacity (e.g., due to weather disruptions) cause high costs for delays and diversions, we propose a flexible provision of airspace capacities. Through cross-border capacity sharing, existing capacities could be distributed among airspaces to minimize network costs. Methodically, we develop an algorithm to solve the two-stage "newsvendor problem," in which both capacity levels and route plans are determined. In numerical tests, we show that network costs can be significantly reduced through capacity optimization and that the joint use of capacities between neighboring airspaces can reduce costs by an additional 1.6-2%.

In the third paper, which is currently still in the review process, we examine to what extent the developed models for capacity and demand management can reduce flight emissions in European aviation. We test two mechanisms: (1) the optimization of airspace capacities so that more flights can fly direct routes and (2) the introduction of route-independent ATM charges so that there is no incentive for airlines to choose longer routes to save on air traffic fees. We find in numerical tests with approximately 3,000 flights that the first mechanism can reduce about 8% of the emissions that currently arise from route diversions. In addition, the results indicate that the second mechanism could save approximately 320,000 tons of CO2 per year in European air traffic.

After completing his PhD studies at WHU, Jan-Rasmus initially returned to McKinsey & Company as a Senior Associate. In 2023 he started his own company, Wing Labs GmbH, to continue developing and implementing optimization tools for (air) transportation.

Journal Articles

Leveraging demand-capacity balancing to reduce air traffic emissions and improve overall network performance

Jan-Rasmus Künnen; Arne Strauss; Nikola Ivanov; Radosav Jovanovic; Frank Fichert. 
Forthcoming in Transportation Research Part A: Policy

The value of flexible flight-to-route assignments in pre-tactical air traffic management

Künnen, J.-R., Strauss, A. (2022), Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Vol. 160, pp. 76-96

Cross-border capacity planning in air traffic management under uncertainty

Jan-Rasmus Künnen; Arne K. Strauss; Radosav Jovanovic; Nikola Ivanov; Frank Fichert; Stefano Starita.
Forthcoming in Transportation Science