To increase productivity, it is in an airline's interest to minimize the turnaround time of its aircraft. But do you know what turnaround time is? In fact, this is the time spent by aircraft on the ground between two flights. Less time on the ground means more time in the air, and more flights, resulting in lower operating costs.
During this turnaround time, between the aircraft’s arrival and its departure, a series of operations are carried out. On the tarmac, there is the unloading and loading of baggage and onboard catering supplies, the exterior inspection of the plane, and when required, refuelling. On board, between the disembarkation of the just arrived passengers, and the embarkation of the new passengers, the cabin cleaning is undertaken.
The well known, reduced to the minimum, turnaround time of low-cost airline aircraft, is usually about thirty minutes on short-haul flights, as against about one hour for a traditional company. This allows the British airline, easyJet, for example, on average, the possibility of making one more return flight, for a total of eleven hours in the air, per aircraft, every day.
For long-haul aircraft, the turnaround time is obviously longer. There are more passengers, and therefore more catering supplies and baggage to load ; in addition the aircraft are bigger, hence require more fuel and cabin cleaning time. At Air France, for example, the minimum turnaround time for a Boeing 777 or an A380, is 21/2 hours.