Assistant / Associate Professor in Operations Research and Artificial Intelligence for Airline Operations

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Job description

University of Twente (UT) and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) jointly invite candidates with excellent research and teaching record to apply for an assistant/associate professor position at UT (permanent position with one-year probation period and with funding for PhD candidates) in collaboration with KLM on Operations Research and Artificial Intelligence for Airline Operations. Would you like to work at the intersection of research and practice and contribute to scientific breakthroughs for KLM?

The world of airline operations offers a myriad of complex and challenging problems. Daily disruption of schedules, constraining resources, and interdependency of aircraft, ground equipment, and passenger operations require advanced optimization and artificial intelligence techniques. Complexity arises not only when planning these processes ahead of time, but also when handling them in real-time. The increasing focus on digitizing these processes and the growing availability of data offer many opportunities for scientific research, innovation, and real-world application.

Both UT and KLM are committed to the Kickstart AI initiative, in which five large Dutch companies (KLM, ING, Philips, Ahold Delhaize and NS) are working together to boost research and education in AI, and applications of AI to business processes (see As part of this initiative, KLM and UT are collaborating through joint appointments of academic staff, providing access for the next generation of AI talent to education, training, and leading academics. Although this academic position is formally part of UT, it will also be embedded within KLM for at least 5 years, and also connected to other joint appointments as part of the Kickstart AI initiative, e.g., between UT and ING, and between KLM and Utrecht University.

Are you looking for an ambitious environment, performing ground-breaking academic research in collaboration with KLM, and providing teaching in Artificial Intelligence and Operations Research? We challenge conventional scholarly wisdom! Join our team and strive to have a significant and sustainable impact on science and society.


You contribute to research, teaching, and knowledge valorization. You will be responsible for:

  • contributing to the goals of kickstart AI (be part of the national initiative) supporting growth in research and education in AI and business;
  • identifying scientifically relevant research areas in the front-line of airline operation innovation;
  • performing cutting-edge scientific research, inspired by challenges and problems in airline operations;
  • developing expertise in innovative optimization models, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, simulation, and operations research in collaboration with KLM;
  • consulting at KLM on its cutting-edge research and development in the digitization of airline operations and logistics;
  • contributing towards the supervision of PhD students;
  • (co-)teaching and coordinating courses in our Bachelor, Master, and Executive programs, such as in the Industrial Engineering & Management and Business & IT programs;
  • supervising students from these programs in their graduation assignment.
Your profile
  • shows vision and entrepreneurial drive (seeing opportunities and possibilities, showing ambition);
  • has experience in industrial collaboration, in bridging research and practice, and in linking the academic and corporate world;
  • has a high competence of solving complex problems;
  • holds a PhD degree in a relevant background with a heavy focus on applied mathematics fields such as operations research, industrial engineering, or computational science;
  • has extensive experience with optimization models, operations research (OR) methodologies as well as advanced business analytics (AI, machine learning, big data, etc.), and is able to combine these different approaches;
  • has proven teaching experience (both lecturing and tutoring), preferably on AI and OR related topics;
  • is a great teammate with good communication skills;
  • is able to identify trade-offs and prioritize for impact and innovation, has strong result-orientation and divide and conquer attitude;
  • possesses the English proficiency level C2 (European Framework) or equivalents;
  • possesses a University Teaching Qualification (UTQ) certificate, or be willing to obtain this, and have a real passion for, and the ambition to become a creative and effective teacher.

Research conditions

  • starting budget for appointing PhD students to collaborate in the research;
  • access to a wealth of historical and real-time data detailing every aspect of KLM operations;
  • ability to test models and algorithms in live operations with real impact;
  • collaboration with and support by academically active data science chapters and digitization platforms of KLM Operations.
Our offer

We offer 1-year appointments that, when positively evaluated, will lead to a permanent appointment. The starting salary, depending on your experience, ranges between € 3.807 to € 6.421 gross per month (in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities), based on the job profile of Assistant or Associate Professor. In addition, the University of Twente offers additional attractive employment conditions (8% holiday allowance, 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme, sabbatical leave, professional and personal development programs, etc.).

Information and application

You can submit your application (including cover letter, curriculum vitae, contact details of two more references, publication list, and if available a copy of your PhD thesis) online ( before January 31, 2022.

For more information on these positions, you can contact M.R.K. Mes, chair of the IEBIS section and board member of HBE, email:, phone: +31-53-4894062/3426). For more information on the IEBIS section, see

About the department

UT HBE Department

The HBE department is a growing research group that combines different methodologies (computer science, operations research, mathematics, engineering, business & management, other social sciences) to improve high-tech business processes. Within this department, the IEBIS group focusses on decision support systems and inter-organizational systems within logistics, healthcare and the services sector.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

For 100 years, KLM has been a pioneer in the airline industry. KLM is the oldest airline still operating under its original name. The Dutch airline aims to be the most customer-focused, innovative, and efficient airline in Europe, offering reliable service and top-quality products.

In 2019 KLM carried a record 35.1 million passengers, offering its passengers direct flights to 171 destinations with a modern fleet of more than 172 aircraft. The airline employs a workforce of more than 33,000 people worldwide. KLM has been the front-runner in the development of sophisticated optimization tools, simulation models, and machine learning methodologies to resolve issues concerning fleet, crew, ground operations, and network in case of travel disruptions. These tools are not only used within KLM itself but more generally in the industry to improve airline operations. Today, the COVID-19 crisis has a worldwide impact on the airline industry. At KLM, the innovative use of machine learning and optimization algorithms is proving its value by reducing the impact of the crisis and allowing for the optimal use of new opportunities.

KLM Operations

Optimizing and digitizing airline operations is the key to gaining competitive advantage in the airline industry, as other factors—such as seats, routes, aircraft—that once set airlines apart have now become commodities.

Every day, KLM’s Operational Control Center makes tradeoffs that affect flights, passengers, crew, ground staff, on-time performance, and profitability. The many operational processes of KLM strongly interact with each other resulting in vast complexity. Today, these processes produce a vast amount of data and offer increasing opportunities to implement decisions digitally, creating a vast field for research and development, and improvement on old ways of working.

In 2017 KLM Operations has started a new initiative, based on the principals of Operational Excellence to digitalize airline operations by building a suite of tools that improve the operational performance of the airline. By combining data with today’s advanced analytics, AI and machine-learning expertise, complex operational issues are now being solved for KLM and for other airline clients across the world.

KLM Operations now has a growing chapter of optimization and machine learning specialists, with both industrial and academic background, working in an agile manner with dedicated software engineers, business analysts, product owners and IT operations specialists. We are known for our can-do-mentality. Our familiar atmosphere often results in Friday drinks and celebrations of all kinds of achievements.

About the organization

The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. By means of 'social engineering', we are here to integrate these advances in society. As a people-first tech university, we align these advances with the needs and behaviour of humans. We ensure proper public and private management as well as robust, inclusive and fair organisational structures. The faculty of BMS does this by developing, transferring and applying high-quality knowledge of Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Science, Philosophy, Educational Science, and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines is challenge-based. The BMS research programmes are directly linked to our research institutes: Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, the TechMed Centre and the Digital Society Institute.

University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology' we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT's departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.

38 - 40


  • Er is geen minimale opleiding vereist

Wat wij bieden

€ 3.807,- tot € 6.421,-
Fulltime -
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