This article posted here on GreenAnswers and these previous answers should be useful. Basically, each airline operates differently and each individual airport may have different considerations (economic, geographic, etc).
The Flight Efficiency Plan of the Eurocontrol entails a five point plan that includes route design improvements, which tackles excess distances traveled by plans en route and at the terminal. ISA (Innovation for Sustainable Aviation) has more detailed developments on the matter, including analysis on improving engine thrust levels of aircraft. For more information, see links below.
They could try to make their flight paths more efficient- trying to cover more destinations in less flights. Kind of brings to mind the Travelling Salesman Problem, in which is to take a given number of cities and find a path that visits each city only once.
If an airline can minimize redundant trips, it would definitely make them more efficient. Somebody talks about it in his blog here – http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2010/03/southwest_airlines_and_the_tra.php
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