Trade-offs in the landside operations of air cargo hubs: Horizontal cooperation and shipment consolidation policies considering capacitated nodes

Rodrigo Romero-Silva, Miguel Mujica Mota

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Landside operations in air cargo terminals consist of many freight forwarders (FFWs) delivering and picking up cargo at the capacity-constrained loading docks at the airport's ground handlers' (GHs) facilities. To improve the operations of the terminal and take advantage of their geographical proximity a small set of FFWs can build a coalition to consolidate stochastically-arriving shipments and share truck fleet capacity while other FFWs continue bringing cargo to the terminal in a non-cooperative manner. Results from a detailed discrete-event simulation model of the cargo landside operations in Amsterdam Aiport showed that all operational policies had trade-offs in terms of the average shipment cycle time of coalition FFWs, the average shipment cycle time of non-coalition FFWs, and the total distance traveled by the coalition fleet, suggesting that horizontal cooperation in this context was not always beneficial, contrary to what previous studies on horizontal cooperation have found. Since dock capacity constitutes a significant constraint on operations in air cargo hubs, this paper also investigates the effect of dock capacity utilization and horizontal cooperation on the performance of consolidation policies implemented by the coalition. Thus, we built a general model of the air cargo terminal to analyze the effects caused by dock capacity utilization without the added complexity of landside operations at Amsterdam Airport to investigate whether the results hold for more general scenarios. Results from the general simulation model suggest that, in scenarios where dock and truck capacity become serious constraints, the average shipment cycle times of non-coalition FFWs are reduced at the expense of an increase in the cycle times of FFWs who constitute the coalition. A good balance among all the performance measures considered in this study is reached by following a policy that takes advantage of consolidating shipments based on individual visits to GH.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102253
Pages (from-to)1-29
JournalJournal of Air Transport Management
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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