Each airline, whether managed by a team or an individual, is competing against other airlines in the environment (Each simulation contains students from your school only unless you are competing in a joint simulation). While there is an option to include artificial airlines, it is this direct competition between other live players that distinguishes AIRLINE Online from other business simulations.
The process of building their airline starts with submitting a business plan. Where will the airline fly? What type of aircraft will it need? What business model will it base itself on? Students are then able to review their potential competition and adjust their plans accordingly.
With plans in place, students log into the simulation and begin the set up process. From the main control panel they are presented with a wide range of business factors they must consider. Some of these include:
- Where will they base the airline?
- Staffing their airline.
- What types of aircraft will they fly?
- Scheduling their aircraft.
- Providing their chosen levels of customer service and amenities
- Marketing their airline.
The decision path a student takes to create their airline is, at first, fluid and dynamic. Students are not instructed as to which order considerations must be made, however will quickly discover that, as with most business processes, there are restrictions placed on what can and can't be done in certain order. A student might assume that the first thing a new airline does is buy an aircraft, not realising that to take delivery you need to have properly trained pilots to fly it home.
At each stage of the simulation, students will be making decisions, complex decisions in which they will need to consider a range of factors, often distant in the causal chain. This ability to bring together relevant data from disparate sources and make a clear, confident decision is a valuable workplace skill.
Once each airline in the simulation is set up, the teacher will run what is called a 'batch’. All inputs and decisions made by the airline are then ‘locked in’ for a period of 3 simulation months (or a quarter).
A batch is run from the teacher’s own control panel (called the AIRLINE Online Manager). The batch triggers the implementation of a series of complex calculations and algorithms which convert the inputs made by each student into a set of individual quarterly results for each airline. These algorithms take into consideration the airline’s own decisions and combine them with the decisions of all other airlines in the environment, environmental variables such as historical supply and demand, interest rates, tax rates, cost of fuel and many other variables.
Once a batch has been run, the airline is presented with results covering a range of performance indicators for their airline over the previous 3 months of operation. The simulation will then ‘reopen’ allowing students to review their current operation and see how they can improve the performance of their airline. Teams can also view data from the other airlines against which they are competing.
This interactive process between student and simulation is repeated over time, gradually allowing students to develop their competitive skills and overall performance.
From a teacher’s perspective, the batch handles all calculations, reporting and interpretation. A knowledge of the aviation industry is not required in order to run a successful educational simulation.