What is Pairing Optimization
Now that we have a little over a year in PBS we thought a note to you on how the AFA Scheduling Committee's focus has changed from bid line development to pairing development (trip building) within the pairing optimization process.
Simply put, your AFA local base scheduling committees and the AFA MEC Crew Planning Liaison chair person (Callie von Borstel) no longer need to spend time on developing lines for Flight Attendants to bid but can now spend much more in depth time on how the actual trips get built from the flying schedule that Alaska Airlines sends to Horizon each and every month.
It starts with the Alaska scheduled flying being entered into a pairing optimizer. This is a computer model that is highly adaptive to meet the goals of the end user (think management). Management has set goals to maximize pairing efficiencies within the restrictions of the crews collective bargaining agreement(s) and to reduce soft time (crew sits, overnights or overnight lengths, etc) and AFA is now involved to ensure that cabin crew needs are being addressed while blending management's needs of efficiencies. (see your collective bargaining agreement Article 6 B., 3., b)
While you would think that management and AFA have competing needs (and they do to an extent) there are many different ways to influence the optimizer as it runs different (trip) solutions based on user input. The final (trip) solution that is selected from the optimizer (the trips you bid on in PBS) is not always managements solution but can be and has been either a pilot generated solution or can be an AFA solution.
This article is not meant to give you a full understanding of pairing optimization but to inform you that we now have a seat at the trip generation table that we never had before (Inflight management has been very supportive of our involvement in pairing optimization). It is our opportunity, through your AFA base scheduling committee members and with our AFA Crew Planning Liaison chair person to add influence on how pairings (trips) are built.
AFA is still in learning mode with the pairing optimizer and it will take at least another calendar quarter until we have a greater depth of knowledge on how best to generate pairing solution(s), but it is a start. As soon as Callie Von Borstel, AFA MEC Crew Planning Liaison is fully trained and confident in the process we will be re-initiating scheduling notes for you to read. The notes will focus not on how bid lines were generated as in the past but how the parings (trips) in a specific bid and by base were generated and why.
We are excited by this initiative and if you are interested in becoming involved in your local base AFA scheduling committee please drop a email to your local officers for more information and consideration. You can find a list of local executive council (LEC) officer contacts on www.qxafa.org. LEC 16 provides support to SEA/BOI/GEG and LEC17 provides support to PDX/MFR.