by | Sep 27, 2022 | 0 comments

There are three major constraints in airline operations that determine an airline’s success. For many years, the triple constraint theory was the standard for airline operators, but as with any model, it may be more complex when applied to real-world situations. Growth and sustainability, however, are unavoidable if these constraints are properly managed.

What are the three major constraints of airline operations?

  1. Civil aviation regulations compliance
  2. Employees satisfaction
  3. Operational cost

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What are the three major triple constraints of airline operations?
  • How does the triple constraint model work?
  • A triple constraint model example
  • Tips for managing the constraints

The triple constraints of airline operations refer to the relationships between safety, efficiency, and profitability.

The “Triple Constraint” of airline operations: employee satisfaction, operational cost, and aviation regulations compliance—depends on the safety, efficiency, and profitability culture of the airline.

Aviation Regulations: These are rules developed by a government or other authority that are intended to increase safety by encouraging and developing civil aviation, including new aviation technology. Creating and maintaining an air traffic control and navigation system for both civil and military aircraft.

Employees Satisfaction: Employee satisfaction is a broad term used by the HR industry to describe how satisfied or content employees are with elements like their jobs, their employee experience, and the organizations they work for. A satisfied employee is one that is positive in their approach. They’re proactive, productive and committed to contributing to the organization’s goals.

Operational Cost: An airline’s operating costs, describes the total of all the expenses necessary to maintain normal operations. They are the cost of resources used by an organization just to maintain its existence.

How Does the Triple Constraint Model Work?

The triple constraint model of airline operations is a concept that aims to help aviation professionals understand how safety, efficiency, and profitability are inextricably linked. This means that any change to one side of the triangle affects all of the other sides.

The triple constraint model centers the triangle on “safety, efficiency, and profitability” to demonstrate that the quality of an airline’s operations is dependent on the airline’s compliance with civil aviation regulations, employees’ satisfaction, and operational cost. Making changes to one side of the triangle requires the other sides to adjust correspondingly if you want to maintain a consistent level of operational integrity.

This means that if an airline wants to improve its level of compliance with civil aviation regulations, it must be willing to increase employee satisfaction and review operational costs in order to accommodate the additional costs associated with training its employees.

Consequently, it is contradictory to demand a decrease in operational costs when there are no corresponding plans to increase employee satisfaction and compliance with civil aviation regulations.

Because of the airline industry’s low-profit margins and capital-intensive nature, this concept is extremely useful for airlines during management meetings where operational plans and strategies are thoroughly discussed. Furthermore, airline executives are frequently under pressure to deliver a safe, efficient, and profitable airline at the lowest possible cost of operations, with reduced employee satisfaction and less adherence to aviation regulations, but this can only be a pipe dream.

Tips for Managing the Triple Constraint of Airline Operations

Although admittedly oversimplified, an airline’s triple constraints are a useful way to represent perceptions in flight operations management. Here’s how to apply it in practice to set parameters that make the most sense given an airline’s priorities and regulatory requirements.

  • When Regulation Compliance is the Biggest Priority:
  • The airline may need to be more flexible in terms of employee welfare, working conditions, and operational costs because strenuous working conditions without a corresponding increase in employee welfare will backfire. So the choice is either to simplify routes so that employees observe their rest periods or vacations and are willing to comply with regulatory requirements or to stress them and continue to pay violation charges to regulatory authorities.
  • When Employees Satisfaction is the Priority:
  • The airline must consider better employee training plans and employee welfare, which will raise operating costs. However, if their satisfaction rises, regulatory compliance will become a culture, and in the long run, operational costs will fall because of increased efficiency, resulting in more passengers and increased revenue.
  • When Reducing Operational Cost is the Priority:

Because a happy employee ensures efficiency and minimizes waste, the airline should be flexible with employee management because it will affect operational costs directly.


These three constraints, along with other variables, will ensure innovation, growth, and sustainability in airline operations if they are managed properly. However, these suggestions are frequently influenced by factors such as the airline’s vision and mission, organizational culture, and management priority.

About the Author

Shadrach Swante Kambai

Flight Operations Consultant, Aviation Data Analyst, Business Developer (

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