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Minimum Required Reserves (Buffer)
Updated On: Jan 28, 2013

“Why do the Minimum Required Reserves (Buffer) numbers change?”??

This is a question that has come up a lot lately, especially during and after the holidays.  We have your answer.  Hopefully this will shed some light on the determination of the Reserve Buffer and how and why those numbers fluctuate from the time they are first published and then throughout the month.

The initial numbers are published in preparation for the Secondary Bid (this is the first bid process that takes into account Reserve staffing).  Those initial numbers are calculated and set by contract language (Section 5.I.1.b.iv). Depending on the day of week, these range between 7% and 9.6% of the number of published lines for the bid month.  

Following Secondary Bid, the buffer numbers are “reset” to handle the Daily Open Time process. To determine the “buffer”, Crew Resources looks at the absence coding going back to 2009 which provides an accurate view of past behavior. They then narrow it down to each specific day of the week (including weekends and holidays) in each bid month. Once the daily numbers are calculated, an appropriate “operational” variable which accounts for situations that may affect the daily operation such as maintenance, weather, ATC and other unknowns is added.

Finally, because the open duty periods (open time) are constantly changing they are monitored daily for improvement which would cause the buffer to be adjusted down to allow for additional swaps or drops. All of this is done automatically out of the reach of the Crew Schedulers. Naturally, manual adjustments may be made (up or down) if needed but that would be at the direction of Crew Resources.

Again, we hope this answer any questions you may have about the determination of the Reserve Buffer.  Of course, if you have any additional questions, please contact any union leader.


October 24, 2014
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