We consider the problem of assigning flights to baggage belts in the baggage reclaim area of an airport. The problem is originated by a real-life application in Copenhagen airport. The objective is to construct a robust schedule taking passenger and airline preferences into account. We consider a number of business and fairness constraints, avoiding congestions, and ensuring a good passenger flow. Robustness of the solutions is achieved by matching the delivery time with the expected arrival time of passengers, and by adding buffer time between two flights scheduled on the same belt. We denote this problem as the Baggage Belt Assignment Problem (BBAP). We first derive a general Integer Linear Programming (ILP) formulation for the problem. Then, we propose a Branch-and-Price (B&P) algorithm based on a reformulation of the ILP model tackled by Column Generation. Our approach relies on an effective dynamic programming algorithm for handling the pricing problems. We tested the proposed algorithm on a set of real-life data from Copenhagen airport as well as on a set of instances inspired by the real data. Our B&P scheme outperforms a commercial solver launched on the ILP formulation of the problem and is effective in delivering high quality solutions in limited computational times, making it possible its use in daily operations in medium-sized and large airports.
- Combinatorial optimization
- Baggage belt assignment problem
- Inbound baggage handling
- Branch and price
- Knapsack problem