United Airlines has announced its next steps in making the travel experience more accessible for people in wheelchairs.
Early next year, the airline are launching a new digital filter on their website enabling passengers to determine which aircraft can accommodate different sized chairs and refunding the fare difference. One catalyst for the change was an investigation surrounding the mishandling of a wheelchair on a United flight.
Image credit: United Airlines
Explaining the new feature, the United website detailed:
The new flight filter will enable customers to enter the dimensions of their personal wheelchair as part of the flight search. The search results will prioritize flight options on aircraft with cargo hold doors large enough to accommodate the wheelchair dimensions. The size of aircraft cargo hold doors varies, so some aircraft are better able than others to handle larger motorized wheelchairs, which must travel upright.
Additionally, United are beginning a six-month pilot program at George Bush intercontinental Airport in Houston to establish better procedure in the event a wheelchair is damaged or delayed in transit. The airline also recently became the first US airline to add Braille to aircraft interiors, redesigned their mobile app for ease of use for passengers with visual disabilities, and integrated new mobile tech for ramp agents.
Securing over 300,000 gallons of blended SAF at Emirates’ international hub in Dubai (DXB), the agreement marks a significant step forward for the world-renowned airline. It is also the first time SAF will be supplied through the DXB airport fuelling system.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said:
“We hope that this collaboration develops further to provide an ongoing future supply of SAF in our hub, as there are currently no production facilities for SAF in the UAE. Aviation plays a vital role in Dubai and the wider UAE economy, and we look forward to continue collaborating with like-minded organisations and government entities to look at viable solutions that introduce more SAF, a fuel that is currently extremely limited in supply, into the aviation fuel supply chain and support Emirates’ efforts to reduce emissions across our operations.”
Leading UAE’s sustainability drive, Emirates also completed the first 100 per cent SAF-powered demonstration flight earlier this year and is actively participating in a range of industry and UAE government working groups to scale the production of SAF.
The aviation industry’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is an ambitious yet crucial endeavour in the fight against climate change. While this monumental shift requires comprehensive efforts across the board, how will the integration of IT innovations drive force in helping airlines make this commitment a reality?
Dynamic Ret[AI]l: Say Goodbye to Generic Flying
Dynamic Retail, powered by AI is reshaping the in-flight experience and has emerged as a game-changer for both airlines’ onboard services and supply-chain management. Leveraging AI, this tailors the shopping experience to individual passenger preferences, and generates retail offerings. By analysing passenger data and behaviour, Dynamic Ret[AI]l significantly reduces excess inventory, waste, and associated emissions. Airlines can now stock precisely what passengers desire, minimising onboard weight carried through bar sets, and optimising space, thereby contributing to their carbon reduction goals.
AI’s analytical capabilities extend to inventory management. Airlines can now predict passenger preferences and consumption patterns, allowing for more accurate stocking decisions. This results in reduced excess inventory, lower fuel consumption due to weight savings, and less waste. As airlines prioritise sustainability, AI-driven inventory management ensures that products onboard align with both passenger desires and emissions reduction objectives.
Leveraging Data Integration for Sustainable Aviation
Data integration is the key to airlines’ pursuit of net zero carbon emissions. By combining data from diverse sources, it empowers airlines to optimise fuel usage and data-driven decision making, resulting in several key benefits that fosters efficiency, waste reduction and informed decisions for a greener aviation industry:
Integrated data identifies fuel-efficient flight routes, reducing unnecessary emissions.
Real-time fuel monitoring ensures timely maintenance and optimal flight paths.
Tracking passenger preferences and inventory levels reduces excess weight and waste, cutting emissions.
Proactive maintenance, load factor optimisation and collaborating data sharing enhance sustainability efforts.
Predictive Analytics for Sustainability: Proactive Emissions Reduction
Predictive analytics powered by AI allow airlines to anticipate trends and take proactive steps to reduce emissions. This includes predicting maintenance needs, optimising flight schedules based on weather patterns, and even predicting passenger demand for sustainability-focused products and services.
IT Innovation and AI are the key enablers in the aviation industry’s journey towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050. These technologies are not only improving operational efficiency but also transforming the passenger experience while reducing the environmental impact of air travel. As airlines continue to invest, the skies are becoming a greener place for us all.
Data Clarity are at the forefront of the IT revolution in aviation. Our solutions enable airlines to harness the power of data and AI innovation through multi-vendor product integration aligned with ClarityIFR, our own leading in-flight retail solution.
By providing comprehensive data integration and analytics tools, we empower our customers to make informed decisions for a greener tomorrow.
How are we paving the way for a greener future? By putting the passengers at the centre and actively working to make flights greener through innovative inflight products and services. Data Clarityleverages its expertise in multi-vendor product integration alongside its industry-leading In-Flight retailsolutions, delivering valuable solutions to meet those demands.
‘Chaos’, ‘shame’, ‘misery’. On the morning of Tuesday 29th August, there wasn’t a single national news outlet – from the Daily Mail to Sky News – that didn’t feature at least one of these words in its headlines following the UK air traffic control system crash.
While these articles followed a particularly unusual event, the stories of passengers abandoned in departure lounges, dealing with limited support on the ground, closed call centres and crashing airline apps are all too familiar.
There’s also reason to believe these problems will only get worse. Airspace congestion, war and climate change are contributing to the disruption that began with Covid. The result has been additional stress and expense for airlines and passengers alike.
This inevitably harms customer satisfaction – at CMAC, we surveyed 1,100 UK adults who had taken at least one flight in the last year, finding that most believed disruption had become worse and many were dissatisfied with the airline response.
Our survey also found a significant number of passengers had been forced to arrange and pay for their own alternative accommodation, transport and meals when dealing with delays.
Given the current wave of employee strikes – alongside the other issues airlines face – we strongly believed it was time for fresh research into how airlines are managing disruption, how this is affecting passenger satisfaction and the key steps to retaining customer loyalty.
We conducted our research with the aim of gaining passenger insights that would empower airlines – allowing them to understand how people feel about the existing response to delays and cancellations, which allows airlines to address the areas where they might be falling short.
A worsening problem affecting customer loyalty
Our research found that the majority of people (71%) have experienced airline disruption, while most believe it is getting worse. Almost half of UK travellers also said their experience of flight delays or cancellations – and the service they received – made them less likely to fly with that airline in the future.
The good news is that embracing a better approach is very achievable. Our data shows that by just making sure a human employee is on hand when disruption occurs can make a world of difference.
We also found that passengers are frequently expected to make their own alternative travel and re-accommodation arrangements when flights are disrupted – 53% who had booked alternative transport following a delay said they did so without airline support, while some 61% of people who booked last-minute hotel rooms received no airline support.
If this continues the industry’s reputation is at risk, however it offers an opportunity for airlines to change their approach. Every passenger with a bad experience is also someone whose long-term loyalty could be won through a better approach when things go wrong.
Empowered teams and the human touch
We examined what this better approach might look like and our data shows the importance of an empathetic, human touch during flight cancellations or delays.
We found that while passengers are broadly happy to embrace technology when it comes to booking and checking in, if disruption happens, they want to be able to speak to a human.
Some 82% of passengers said they want a real person to help them when things go wrong, with 77% saying that human support will always be superior to technology in times of crisis. As many airlines move towards ‘digital transformation’ and are trialling AI and technology-only solutions, this is an important customer view to consider to ensure satisfaction and repeat business.
Technology needs to be used as an enabler, not a replacement, for airline and ground handling staff to provide quick, in-person and meaningful re-accommodation and alternative transport solutions to disrupted passengers.
Realising the potential of this human workforce means ensuring staff receive the right training and tools, enabling them to focus on passengers and reassure them that action is being taken, while providing regular updates and realistic timeframes.
Alongside having staff on hand to answer questions, tools – such as user-friendly apps – can also be used to help travellers easily find and book alternative travel or hotel rooms on their own terms. Meanwhile, airlines can also make use of live dashboards to gain full visibility and control when supporting customers during times of disruption.
With these things in place, there’s a big opportunity for airlines to win the long-term loyalty of passengers, despite the challenges our industry faces.
Download the full whitepaper to gain insight into passenger pain points and how airlines can more effectively meet expectations and earn long-term loyalty.
In today’s digital age, data is the lifeblood of innovation. The airport and airline industry, with its intricate operations and vast customer touch points, can create lasting value by harnessing the power of data to improve the traveler’s experience, reduce operational costs, and increase revenue. In our increasingly digital world, unlocking the value in data requires companies adopt a modern data strategy to become more data-driven. Let’s delve deeper into what it means to be a data-driven organization and its implications for airlines and airports.
What is a data-driven organization?
A data-driven organization must do more than collect vast amounts of data. They must:
Harness data as an asset
Drive sustained innovation using these assets
Create actionable insights to supercharge the customer experience
Airports and airlines recognize the importance of data to enhance customer experiences. They’ve shifted from traditional brick-and-mortar activities to omni-channel experiences, driven by evolving customer expectations.
New technologies, like generative AI, are challenging us all to think bigger about what is possible to meet traveler’s expectations. Imagine an airport where real-time insights can predict flight delays, optimize ground operations, and personalize passenger experiences. That’s the power of being data-driven.
By adopting the right mindset, data-driven organizations:
Create compelling new customer experiences
Unlock new revenue streams
Differentiate themselves from competitors
Ryanair, for example, uses data to optimize the supply of food and beverages on 3,000 daily flights with a goal to make sure “no one is disappointed” according to Aoife Greene, Ryanair’s deputy director ancillary and head of retail. Ryanair uses passenger nationality, flight time, flight destination, and time-of-day to predict the right in-flight product mix to delight customers and improve revenue.
Creating a data flywheel with data products
We suggest using the concept of a “data flywheel” to Think Big, Start Small, and Scale Fast to power new experiences and capabilities. It’s an iterative cycle where organizations focus on solving customer challenges using data products. Data products can be thought of as an evolution of traditional data sets. They represent a curated, managed, and trusted presentation of data or insights for a specific purpose.
In the same way we shop grocery aisles and ecommerce sites for physical products, data products are easily discoverable and accessible by anyone with access rights. For example, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Ryanair worked together to make MAG’s airport gate change events available as a data product to improve the customer experience. The real-time data product ensures gate change information is aligned across MAG’s airport flight information display screens and Ryanair’s customer facing applications.
In the broader context, data products and adopting the flywheel approach can help companies use data to improve use cases spanning the end-to-end traveler experience and operations. For example, data can be used to enhance and personalize in-flight entertainment, to streamline baggage handling and visibility, or even optimize flight paths for fuel efficiency based on weather conditions.
Just as other industries are embracing experimentation to test consumer reactions to new features and experiences, airports and airlines can adopt a similar approach. By continuously designing experiments, such as A/B or multivariate tests, and leveraging data-driven insights, they can stay attuned to changing passenger expectations and innovate accordingly.
This is the power of the “data flywheel”.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) use the flywheel as an integral part of our AWS Data Driven Everything (D2E) program that helps customers unlock value using data. D2E is used by hundreds of customers to activate priority use cases using the flywheel and Amazon’s working backward approach. By continuously collecting feedback and iterating, organizations can create data products that add value consistently and repeatedly for priority use cases.
Building a modern data community
At the heart of a data-driven organization is the Modern Data Community that supports empowering employees with data-driven insights and decision-making capabilities. By pushing decision rights to the edges and promoting a culture of experimentation, airports and airlines can foster agility and innovation.
The community is comprised of three stakeholder groups. First, data producer teams are often aligned with business domains (flight operations for example) sharing data in the form of products and ensuring their quality. Next, data consumer teams may use a collection of data products to gain insights. For example, marketing consumers may use products containing traveler’s past purchases, booking preferences, and customer service interactions to fine tune customer segmentation models.
Consumers drive the creation of new insights and innovations using data and often become data producers by creating new, higher-order data products. In the marketing example, the fine tuned customer segmentation model can be published as a higher-order data product for use by consumers.
Last, data platform teams form the backbone that operate the marketplace ensuring data products are accessible, reliable, and secure. They can use tools like Amazon Lake Formation and Amazon DataZone to facilitate efficient and secure sharing of data products across the organization.
What about data governance
Being data-driven doesn’t mean compromising on governance. Modern data strategies balance innovation with compliance. Tools like Amazon Macie, which uses machine learning to discover and protect sensitive data, ensure that organizations can innovate responsibly. AWS Clean Rooms helps customers and their partners more easily and securely collaborate and analyze their collective datasets—without sharing or copying one another’s underlying data—protecting personal identifiable information (PII). For the aviation industry, where safety and compliance are paramount, achieving a balance between security and collaboration is crucial.
The aviation industry is on the cusp of a data revolution. From enhancing passenger experiences to optimizing operations, the possibilities are endless. As technology evolves, airports and airlines that embrace a data-driven approach will lead the way, setting new standards for efficiency, customer satisfaction, and innovation. Generative AI, for example, is a transformative technology that requires a modern data strategy and foundational ecosystem to realize its full benefits.
By understanding the principles of a modern data strategy, the data-driven organization, and leveraging modern data platforms, the airport and airline industry can soar to new heights, delivering unparalleled value to passengers and stakeholders alike.
To learn more, join myself (Brian Buch) and Craig Suckling, AWS Global Lead of Data Strategy, at the World Aviation Festival September 27-28 in Lisbon, Portugal to discuss how a modern data strategy can help maximize value using data.
The world of aviation has always been about movement, connection, and evolution.
As Lisbon’s skies get ready to welcome aviation professionals from across the globe for the annual World Aviation Festival, the pivotal role of technology in reshaping our dynamic industry is more pronounced than ever.
Today’s traveler expectations have transformed, heavily influenced by the turbulence of the pandemic. Frequent cancellations, shifting flight schedules, and evolving travel restrictions have amplified the demand for flexibility in travel bookings. Moreover, with the rise of environmental consciousness, options like CO2 offsetting and the availability of convenient services like cancellation insurance have become the norm rather than the exception.
At the same time, we also live in a world where consumers can buy anything with a single click on platforms like Amazon. In this evolving landscape, the traditional airline retail experience seeks rejuvenation to match the pace.
As we look into the future of the airline experience, it’s becoming clear that it’s not just about convenience anymore. Other industries have progressively raised the bar for customer expectations. In response, airlines are navigating this shift, aspiring to provide a more seamless and advanced booking experience.
Our extensive OAG Airline Transition Tech Report delves into these transformative shifts. Labeled as the transition from “Old to New,” it’s clear this isn’t merely a trend but a crucial strategic evolution towards a more sophisticated travel paradigm.
As we gear up for the festival’s discussions, we bring forward three illustrative data charts from our report. These visuals not only depict the trajectory of tech innovations but also underscore the pressing need for and the inescapable nature of this transformative journey.
1. The Role of Ancillaries: More Than Just Add-Ons
As a result of technological progress and changing traveler preferences, the aviation industry has witnessed a steady rise in its ancillary businesses.
What began as simple add-ons mostly offered by low-cost carriers has matured over the last decade into a cornerstone of the financial landscape for many airlines.
The potency of ancillaries was on full display in 2022. A record was set, with ancillaries contributing an astonishing 15% of total revenue for airlines.
Direct channels, such as an airline’s official website, have given airlines more control over their offerings.
Furthermore, with the introduction of NDC, the promise of tailored experiences for travelers has come closer to reality. The future of distribution promises to deliver a refined, personalized touch to each customer, effectively revolutionizing how airlines engage with their patrons.
2. Virtual Interlining: Reshaping Airline Inventory and Expanding Travel Choices
The aviation industry, traditionally characterized by formal network collaborations and partnerships, is undergoing a transformation with the advent of Virtual Interlining.
A brainchild of innovative platforms like Kiwi.com and Dohop, this model first made waves in the early 2010s. Instead of relying on time-honored interline and codeshare agreements, Virtual Interlining hinges on groundbreaking technology and fresh, entrepreneurial strategies.
This strategic shift is doing more than just shaking up airline inventory management. It’s also unlocking a new world of options for today’s travelers. More flexible, convenient, and, most importantly, cheaper flight options, are now at passengers’ fingertips, aligning perfectly with the demands of our fast-paced, convenience-oriented consumer era.
Our data models reveal a significant surge in self-connecting passengers in recent years.
These are travelers actively choosing to book connecting flights across different airlines, without traditional interlining. From a modest 55 million travelers making such choices six years ago, 2022 saw this number leap to an impressive 179 million.
The figures underscore a clear shift in passenger behavior and preference, pointing towards a more flexible future for air travel.
3. Payment Processes: The Unseen Barrier in Airline Retail
When it comes to booking travel, there exists a curious phenomenon unique to airlines: astonishingly high booking abandonment rates.
While other e-commerce sectors consistently convert more interested shoppers into buyers, airlines see potential passengers frequently leaving their carts behind. One primary reason can be traced back to the way airlines manage payments and customer experience, which often exist as siloed departments.
The tangible fallout of this separation is evident in the alarming abandonment rates on airline websites close to 80%, sometimes even touching a staggering 90%. It paints a picture of a missed connection between what a customer wants and what the booking process delivers.
But the silver lining here is the immense opportunity that lies ahead.
Airlines, by enhancing the retail payment experience, especially through direct channels, can not only mitigate this dropout but also unlock a wealth of potential revenue.
The broader travel industry seems to have recognized the goldmine that is payments.
According to recent survey data, a whopping majority of travel businesses, over 80% to be exact, view fintech and payments as a top-tier investment priority.
Curious about the future of travel payment solutions and how they might transform the airline booking experience?
As we usher in a new era of technological advancements, the airline industry is in the throes of a seismic transformation. Two parallel systems are driving this change – the historically grown legacy system, and a modern, dynamic, adaptive system. This critical transition is setting the stage for what we at OAG like to call “Travel Done Right”.
To explore this transition in-depth, we have published a comprehensive report, see the download link here, offering detailed insights into this complex evolution.
Below is a teaser into some areas we cover, including an overview of the 50 most promising Travel Tech companies driving this change.
The Legacy System and Its Challenges
The legacy system, a stalwart of the airline industry for decades, is slowly yielding to obsolescence. Dating back to the 1970s, its outdated interfaces and limited flexibility pose significant challenges in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world.
Even essential upgrades or replacements become herculean tasks due to their inherent rigidity. Furthermore, it struggles to integrate with innovative third-party software solutions essential for maintaining competitiveness.
The Modern System and Its Promises
In stark contrast, the modern system offers improved usability, scalability, and cost savings.
It’s designed for today’s airlines and travelers who expect intuitive interfaces, customization options, and data-driven decision-making. Cloud-native software solutions enable easy integration with business applications, giving airlines real-time insights into customer behavior.
Driving Forces of the Transition
Two intertwined trends drive the transition towards the modern system: new technologies and changing customer needs.
Airlines can now offer products in more flexible ways due to advancements like NDC, which allows more individualized inventory packaging.
Changing customer needs also play a significant role.
Today’s travelers expect flight booking and new ancillary products, including CO2 offsetting and cancellation insurance, to be readily available. As a result, airlines are under pressure to match the seamless retail experiences offered by platforms like Amazon.
The Transition Across Major Airline Functions
This tech transition is not limited to IT infrastructure but extends across the entire airline value chain. Physical aspects, such as how aircraft are powered, are also experiencing change, as exemplified by the rise of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
However, the transition predominantly focuses on the customer-facing side of the airline business. How flights are offered, packaged, sold, and re-booked is undergoing dramatic change, slowly but steadily making for more seamless travel journeys.
In our report, we meticulously navigate through five crucial chapters, each exploring a specific aspect of the airline industry undergoing this significant transition:
Airline Revenue Management: The Shift from Dynamic Offers to Continous Pricing
Airline Distribution: The Transition from Traditional GDS-led Distribution to NDC
Airlines Ancillaries: The Transition from Up-selling to Right-selling
Airline Inventory: The Evolution from Network Agreements to Virtual Interlining
Airline Payments: The Movement from Fixed to Flexible Purchasing Schemes
Hesitation and the Need for Change
Despite these promising advancements, many airlines remain hesitant to move away from the legacy system due to perceived stability and the industry’s inherent risk aversion.
However, recent IT outages have spotlighted the legacy system’s vulnerabilities, indicating it’s time for a more robust technology stack.
This paradigm shift will pave the way for “Airline Retail of the Future,” enabling airlines to create the right offer at the right time. Flexibility in purchasing tickets and ancillary services throughout the travel journey, and options like buy-now-pay-later models, will redefine the travel experience.
While the transition to “Travel Done Right” has just begun, the potential benefits are significant. To bring this new era into fruition, airlines not only need to invest in radical transformation efforts but should also closely observe the rapidly evolving Travel Tech ecosystem.
Emerging startups and tech players are already showing the way, illustrating how the legacy system can be disrupted and replaced with newer, more flexible, and customer-friendly ways of doing business. These entities are leveraging data-driven technologies to create innovative solutions that can dramatically improve the travel experience, from ticket purchasing to ancillary services.
As such, airlines stand to gain immensely by keeping a close eye on these trailblazing companies. In the spirit of this forward momentum, we aim to shed light on those with the most advanced data capabilities, guiding the industry towards this exciting transition.
The Rise of Travel Tech Companies
Leveraging digital technologies like Machine Learning and AI, many of these emerging startups are detangling airlines from outdated tech systems, accelerating the industry towards a modern, dynamic, and customer-friendly system.
In the below mapping, we highlighted 50 of the most promising Travel Tech companies in a structured overview.
As many airlines and most system providers either have implemented a solution or have a plan towards digital retailing, several players have not decided a way forward yet. The main reasons for “doing nothing” about digital retailing include a lack of compelling business case, a lack of funding or simply competing priorities.
The business case for the transition to airline digital retailing
The business case for the transition to airline digital retailing is well defined at industry level. The last example comes from IATA who published a document in March 2023. The document covers key findings about potential savings from NDC and ONE Order implementations, as well as the cost of not implementing.
Since 2019 McKinsey published a report on the value of airline retailing, estimated at $40Bn by 2030. They added a new report in 2022 exploring the benefit of payment innovation, to address the $20Bn annual costs of payment.
BCG has published a series of articles about the “Airline retail revolution”. In an October 2022 report, they focus on the airline organization required to undertake the transition to digital retailing, around: Revenue Management, Offer Creation, Ancillary Products, and Marketing.
Not only the business case is here but the solutions are here too. In June 2023, Threedot published an article about Order Management Systems available in the market, listing 9 vendors and their respective solutions.
Funding is also here after a profitable year for airlines, as reported by IATA in June 2023. The latest forecast is $9.8Bn for 2023, which is still low compared to revenue but a positive sign of recovery.
If the business case, the solutions and the funding are there, why do some players opt for “doing nothing”? Is there a business case for “Wait & See”?
The short-term consequences of inaction
Let’s imagine we had to get a business case approved for the “Wait & See” strategy. The three pillars of this strategy would be:
Missed opportunities in ancillary sales
Delays and costs in changes and refunds
Lack of integration with multimodal partners
Each pillar has small consequences in the beginning, which may justify the inaction. We miss opportunities of selling ancillaries via travel agents, compared to direct sales, but we don’t know how much, so it doesn’t hurt. We have delays in changing booking and refunding customers, but we don’t know how upset customers are and we cannot measure their frustration, or the impact of frustration on lost business. Finally, we cannot do business with rail partners seamlessly, but we don’t measure the impact on our business and our carbon emissions, so it does not matter.
When assessing the short-term consequences of inaction, we can justify “doing nothing” for another year or two.
The long-term impact of not-transitioning
As more partners and sellers get on with NDC, the new normal will be API connectivity, somewhere between 2025 and 2030. The cost of “doing nothing” will keep growing and include for example:
No personalization of offers
Inability to implement continuous pricing and dynamic offers
Double cost of infrastructure: Direct + Legacy indirect
The business case of inaction will include the growing complexity of innovating on legacy platforms. Every new requirement for the coming years will be developed on old systems that will be decommissioned soon, meaning that every development will have to be done again. The sooner the transition the cheaper.
In summary, the more the industry will move to digital retailing, the more missed opportunity will pass by.
In most cases, the cost of “doing nothing” is not measured, although we can assume that it is growing every year.
The good news for “Wait & See” strategy is that there will always be a bridge to phase out legacy processes and systems. There is no train leaving the station and a risk of missing the train.
Even better, in 2030 (or before) there might be a radical new way of selling airline products which makes NDC obsolete and digital retailing can be leapfrogged (although I cannot imagine yet what this would like, maybe a decentralized platform).
In any case, “doing nothing” when it comes to digital retailing has a cost, a growing cost, and sooner or later, after a system failure, a major business requirement, a cyber-attack or else, the remaining player will embrace the transition and get the benefits of a modern, customer-centric, retailing experience.
“The aviation industry is a key area where AI can play a really significant factor. It goes from everything like personalised customer service, dynamic pricing, predictive maintenance, flight operations optimisation. To everything through from baggage tracking to handling of systems, biometrics and identity, autonomous vehicles, moving towards a dark airport, and robots…”
Reflecting on the significance of AI in the industry, Glenn Morgan, MD, Airfusion Ventures highlighted some of emerging trends to look out for at the World Aviation Festival.
Joining as a moderator for several AI panels at the event, Glenn will be covering the tech’s human adoption, applications on the ground, and much more with representatives from airlines including Emirates, easyJet, United, and Cathay Pacific.
As MD, Airfusion Ventures, and an active investor in AI companies, Glenn is well positioned to engage in dynamic discussions around aviation’s engagement with upcoming technologies. Airfusion Ventures is an innovation advisory firm building bridges between leading global corporations and the emerging tech economy. As IATA Chair, Glenn also launched the industry airline digital retailing program NDC, one Order.
Watch the full discussion below to hear Glenn’s thoughts on applications of AI in the industry and a short introduction into his sessions.
The future of aviation has always seemed like a distant one. But the future we look to today – of flying EVs and net-zero flights – might be out of reach for decades.
Innovation has undeniably been slow. There hasn’t been a quantum leap in ages – only incremental nudges towards better ops, safety and efficiency.
In a sector characterised by intense competition and paper-thin margins, funnelling cash into R&D for technologies that might be a dead end isn’t the smart choice right now.
So what is the smart choice? The answer so far has been ancillaries.
But in the face of mounting environmental awareness and evolving customer expectations, the industry needs to start looking beyond its siloed offering if it wants to stay relevant and keep the cash flowing.
Ancillaries – how did we get here?
The concept of ancillary sales in aviation didn’t really exist until low-cost carriers (LCCs) emerged. Up until this point, all-in bundled fares were the norm. But as LCCs started to displace flagship carriers and take more market share, the adoption of product unbundling and ancillary sales became increasingly common.
In 2022, ancillary sales totalled US$102 billion – 15% of total airline revenue. In the US domestic market, seat bookings alone account for more than US$4 billion.
That’ll only continue if passengers keep choosing air travel as their main mode of transport. But today, consumers are hyper-aware of their impact on the climate.
Travellers and governments are pressing aviation to do more to fight global warming.
Ancillaries aren’t going to remain sustainable, unless aviation retailing starts to think beyond the flight.
Moving beyond the airline ecosystem
Carbon offsetting isn’t cutting it anymore. People are demanding more action on the environment from aviation.
Retailing has always offered relevant products like airport transfers, car hire and hotel for decades. What’s new is the inclusion of modes that would traditionally be seen as eating the aviation industry’s lunch.
The potential opportunity here is staggeringly vast, and this doesn’t even account for cross-border rail travel.
But ultimately, multimodality is better for the customer.
Keeping up with customer expectations
Customers want to feel represented by the brands they buy from, including travel brands.
Allowing them the flexibility to book air, rail and road transport in a single booking wins you the direct booking and the ancillary revenue, instead of forcing customers to book piecemeal trips – or into the arms of your competitors.
For corporates who’ve got all eyes on their ESG strategies, this kind of tangible reduction in emissions is extremely attractive. This isn’t just a “nice to have” anymore, thanks to the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).
Multimodal travel will have a profound effect on the outcomes of sustainability reports, and adoption will likely be widespread. But as timely and on-point as it may be culturally, climate action is only a fringe benefit.
Because when the chips are down, most customers are all about convenience.
Visit most airline.com sites, and you’ll only be able to search for airports they fly to – not destinations. Passengers don’t travel to airports; they travel to resorts, hotels and experiences.
Aviation’s missing link is completing the whole journey in a single booking.
Imagine being able to search for a destination, and getting the nearest airport, plus a rail or public transport connection to take you the rest of the way – without having to book anything separately.
Travellers get a better experience. The airline increases ancillary revenue, with higher-quality data on what their customers actually want: data that can be measured against events that impact mass travel – like Taylor Swift’s tour, World Cup matches and festivals.
Multimodality is an affirmation of customer values, in an experience that reflects them as an individual. Facilitating their freedom is precisely what airlines should be doing.
So, how do we get there? Well, the tech to do this already exists.
Because we built it.
The road to multimodality
There are several routes into a multimodal future – all riddled with problems.
The travel ecosystem is a fractured, fragmented collection of disparate, often old systems: GDS, EDI/EDIFACT et al.
These can only support a limited number of verticals, like air and hotel – not rail, ferry, ride hailing, or any other modes. Attaching these modes to bookings takes airlines into a further fragmented realm of micro vendors, with literally thousands of APIs and platforms dedicated to single functions.
Airlines could consume multimodal content via all these distinct APIs – but imagine how resource-intensive it would be to integrate each mode, each supplier, each platform.
Even existing aggregators only offer a limited breadth of products, requiring multiple integrations.
Snowfall has created the answer to this, with Junction – our flagship travel technology platform.
Discover the tech behind multimodal travel at World Aviation Festival
Come and see the future of aviation for yourself – meet us at stand 1-106 at World Aviation Festival 2023.
Yesterday, the Immigration (Amendment) Bill was passed to allow for end-to-end biometric clearance at the airport and checkpoints. From the first half of 2024, this will enable passengers departing Changi Airport to pass through automated immigration clearance without showing or scanning their passports.
Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Home Affairs of Singapore said:
“This will reduce the need for passengers to repeatedly present their travel documents at these touchpoints, allowing for more seamless and convenient processing. Our immigration systems must be able to manage this high and growing volume of travellers efficiently and provide a positive clearance experience, while ensuring our security.”
The Second Minister for Home Affairs also addressed concerns that this could present problems for elderly passengers or those with disabilities, explaining that manual clearance will still be possible where necessary. Answering further questions around the use of data, Josephine continued:
“The Changi Airport Group (CAG) will be bound by the terms of a data sharing agreement with ICA. It puts the onus on CAG to take all reasonable measures to ensure that the data is protected against unauthorised access, use, disclosure, modification or misuse. This includes setting up relevant access controls such as ‘Two-Factor Authentication’. ICA will audit CAG’s compliance and conduct regular checks on CAG’s system.”
Using biometrics to create a “single token of authentication” is predicted to enhance the efficiency of passenger processing at the airport and empower Changi to manage the increasing number of travellers passing through its gates.
The industry’s become really good at using that data and those tools at optimization on days where things are going well and delivering a really good experience for passengers. But I think where AI in particular has a place is the bad days, the days where there’s weather or some other issue. And then once those delays start, the whole system becomes more challenging and unpredictable.”
Paul Gibson, VP of product at FlightAware explained AI’s potential for elevating operations. Predictive data can help to guide airports and airlines, optimising their available resources and improving decision-making. As the industry battles with increased disruption from extreme weather and staff shortages, the ability to harness the full power of data using AI can open up a considerable competitive advantage.
Looking towards the future, Paul also pointed out several ways the uses of AI will evolve from longer term predictions around mass disruption to sustainability.
Get your ticket for the World Aviation Festival to hear more from Paul who will be joining speakers from Emirates and United Airlines, answering the question, “How can we better-integrate AI to improve overall operations?”
FlightAware, is best known for the flight tracking website and app, but it specialises in collecting data from multiple sources to tell the story of each flight. The data is then interpreted and enriched, including with some AI technology to deliver information to customers so they can use it to empower their business. For two years, FlightAware has been part of the Collin’s Aerospace family, enabling an even greater impact on the industry.
For more on what to expect at this year’s World Aviation Festival see:
Offers & Orders is not a new topic within the wider travel industry; but it is an entirely new method of selling products that enables airlines to create and distribute personalised offers to travellers. It’s not surprising that new methods and old habits don’t cohabitate well. As a result of this mismatch the customer experience today is deeply affected by legacy standards, processes, and technology. Airlines in the past have struggled to create and manage the attractiveness of offers, whilst delivering on efficient orders, in addition to keeping the customer at the centre of it all. Some may view Offers and Orders as a challenge to bridge the old and the new and the end customer simply having to deal with the result. The opposite is true however, and instead of the customer being an inconvenient truth, it could be the solution to the very problem.
As an industry, many commentators have been quick to dismiss how imminent such a switch to one single order across the journey is, but research suggests that we are closer than we think. According to Datalex’s research findings outlined in ‘The Digital Airline 2023’, over 9 in 10 (92%) of airlines believe their underlying PSS system is significantly or somewhat hampering the simplification of order management and ease of booking, suggesting that this is a significant headache for airline executives. In addition to this, 60% of airlines surveyed intend to move away from their current PSS provider towards an Offers & Orders enabled technology platform in the next 1-2 years. With just 1% of airlines planning this in the next 5 years or more, and only 8% stating that their PSS does not hamper them at all, it is clear from the majority that they have reason to start this transition sooner rather than later.
By moving to a unified Offers & Orders future, airlines can take back control of what they sell, merchandise and manage in a personalised way. But equally, customer-centricity is crucial for the long-term success in the next phase of airline retailing and should be acknowledged as such. A recent survey by McKinsey indicates the true value of a customer-centric approach, with $40 billion annual value creation opportunity available to airlines.
If airlines chose to ignore this transition, they will be left behind. In order to remain competitive and to future-proof their position in market, airlines must be cognisant of the inevitable move to Offers & Orders. Datalex has cautioned airlines by stating that “the cost of doing nothing cannot be underestimated”, as voiced to by Conor O’Sullivan, Chief Product Officer, when speaking to the course of the transition to Offers & Orders. Not moving may result in losing any competitive edge you had, because while your airline may have a fabulous onboard experience or relatively accessible digital experience by today’s standards, your future customers won’t buy it if you don’t engage them in an advanced digital way.
The moment of truth comes when you stop investing in the past and start investing in the future, and this is true for technology and people. If an airline continues on their current trajectory, they are sustaining costly and outdated systems with less and less people available to attract to work on these systems. This may not be true today but will be true as soon as the transition starts, and the airline will be left behind. While there will be undeniable upfront costs for the transition to take place, the cost of not starting will be much more.
Partners like Datalex are ready for the future with standalone Offer & Order Management but recognises that airlines will exist in a parallel universe in the transition state. We support this, via connection to legacy systems as needed, but there is still huge value to be had in the transition state. AI-based pricing for example can be implemented to reflect real-time price optimisation, fulfilled as a price adjustment if required to conform to existing downstream processes awaiting transformation. Once the initial transition begins, your airline’s roadmap will evolve in the coming years, there is no “end-state”, just a future vision that will be continually optimised.
At Datalex, we are committed to delivering against its vision for Offers & Orders and has a clear transition path across all phases from initial optimisations for Modern Retailing towards 100% Offers & Orders. To learn more about how airlines can go back to first principles and accelerate value creation through customer-centric modern airline retailing for an Offers & Orders future, download Datalex’s Offers & Orders whitepaper. In addition, visit the Datalex team at booth at World Aviation Festival on 26-28th September in Lisbon to find out more about our progressive airline digital retailing work. Datalex’s Chief Revenue Officer, Bryan Porter, will also be on-stage discussing the steps required to deliver a better and more personalised customer experience through NDC – a key part of the journey to 100% Offers and Orders.
Sinead Finn, Founder, affinnity joined for a brief discussion in preparation for the World Aviation Festival. The conversation touched on notable trends shaping the industry landscape, a glimpse into her upcoming sessions, and a comment on the event’s evolution.
Discussing the Revenue Management panel that Sinead will be moderating, the affinnity Founder explained:
“I’m really excited about our panellists and we’ve got some great airlines on there. So we’ve got EasyJet, we’ve got Sun Express, and Lufthansa – it’s a good spread across all the airline types. It’ll be really interesting to see what they have to say about revenue and how revenue is moving and how technology is helping.”
Sinead also highlighted two prominent trends in the industry to look out for in discussion at the event. Firstly, the loyalty shift towards building relationships beyond travel, rooted in an elevated understanding of individual customers. Secondly, the cost of sustainability going forward and how airlines will navigate this.
Watch the full interview below.
For more on what to expect at World Aviation Festival see:
Reducing disruption with climate resilience: Extreme weather
SITA recently published anarticle on leveraging technology for climate resilience. It highlighted that disruption caused by weather conditions account for 75 per cent of air traffic delays, “costing airlines billions of dollars each year in extra fuel, maintenance, crew, and compensation expenses.”
Patrick Edmond, Managing Director, Altair Advisory told Aviation News:
“Airlines have always had to deal with disruption, often caused by extreme weather. The reality of climate change is that this kind of disruption will become more frequent – whether it’s due to extreme high or low temperatures, wind, rain, or snow – and increasingly airlines will have to treat this as ‘business as usual’ instead of something exceptional.”
Extreme weather events are on the rise and, although they are just one of the many symptoms of climate change, they form the focus of this article. Confronted with the challenges of a hostile climate, the industry’s response comes in two broad parts:
The first, a push towards sustainable aviation. The industry must resolve its negative contribution to climate change; this requires extensive investment and commitment, willingness to embrace new technologies, and experimentation with alternative energy sources.
The second, which is explored here, is climate resilience: the need to adapt to the environmental consequences of climate change. This will enable the industry to navigate the impact of complex weather conditions whilst minimising disruption for passengers.
The impact of extreme weather on the industry
An informal survey by the World Aviation Festival had a look at the impact of extreme weather events on travel experiences and the results can be seen below.
Although this was just a small sample to canvas opinion on the topic, wider research shows the number of extreme weather events has grown “substantially” over the past 10-15 years and this has very tangible consequences for travel. As these events become more frequent and intense with the rising global temperature, this translates to delays, cancellations, and more disruption to passengers.
EUROCONTROL’s article, ‘Understanding the impact of climate change on aviation’ highlighted several of the ways weather events impacted the industry, ranging from damaged communications equipment, flooded control towers, and even melted runways when, in 2012, high temperatures melted the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, trapping a plane as its wheel became stuck.
In addition to disrupting operations, the necessary counter actions themselves can result in further sustainability setbacks.
Research by Professor Paul Williams found that flight paths may become more convoluted to avoid stronger and more frequent patches of turbulence, lengthening some journey times and increasing the overall consumption of jet fuel. Similarly, the EUROCONTROL article reports that in 2019, over 1 million km were flown as a result of avoiding a major storm. This corresponds to over 6,000t of extra fuel consumed, or over 19,000t of CO2 produced.
While the industry strives to meet sustainability targets, it must also build climate resilience to combat the challenges posed by climate change.
“The ability for the aviation system operations and infrastructure to be able to withstand and recover from external perturbation resulting from the impacts of climate change. Therefore, anticipation of and adaptation to these impacts are vital to ensure a reduction in the magnitude of consequences of climate change to the whole aviation system.”
Technology plays a pivotal role in climate resilience. Innovative solutions help to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from adversities caused by climate change. These include but are not limited to, advanced air traffic management (ATM) systems, remote sensing and satellite technologies, and advanced weather forecasting systems. A couple of examples of technologies employed to address the surge in extreme weather occurrences include:
American Airlines’ HEAT tool which “dynamically moves flight schedules around to ensure that customers, crew, and aircraft keep moving when weather threatens to disrupt the schedule.” HEAT optimises data about weather, customer connections, gate availability, volume of passengers on each flight, and any air traffic control or crew constraints. American’s algorithm has so far prevented nearly 1,000 flight cancellations across their network.
SITA eWAS and SITA Mission Watch. This aggregates multiple weather feeds, ensuring accuracy and reliability in weather forecasts. These solutions provide pilots and dispatchers with high-resolution, real-time, 4D weather forecasts, enabling them to visualize flight plans over weather conditions.
In building climate resilience, it is imperative the industry invests in and leverages cutting edge technology. At World Aviation Festival, there will be a specific IROPS Summit looking at how to manage disruption by utilising technology. The sessions will include speakers from AirAsia, WestJet, Lufthansa, KLM, and more.
Additionally, sustainability will form a core topic at the event exploring everything from digitalisation, ecosystem collaboration, and preparing for optimal SAF production, in the first day alone. Speakers include Lauren Riley, Chief Sustainability Officer and Managing Director, Global Environmental Affairs at United Airlines, and Jane Ashton, Sustainability Director at easyJet. Patrick Edmond will be moderating a panel asking “When can we expect the industry to be prepared for optimal SAF production, and what will this bring?”
“Those types of capabilities where it impacts the passenger’s experience greatly provides a negative context to what used to be pretty glamorous air travel. The last thing anybody wants going on vacation or even a business trip is disruptions. So a lot of airports and airlines as well are investing heavily on how to prevent, or when a disruption does happen, how to recover quickly and with the least impact to the travellers.”
Noting how COVID accelerated the adoption of technology in airports, Bill Carleton, Director of Advanced Recognition Systems, NEC Corporation of America mapped out some of the ways that the industry has leveraged technology to improve the passenger experience post-pandemic. NEC Corporation of America is a leading technology integrator with a special focus on safety, security, and efficiency.
Exploring the potential that the World Aviation Festival has for driving progress in the digitisation of airports, Bill explained the event:
“Bring[s] together both the the executive levels, travel technology companies, and pretty much everyone in between who helps make things work both front house and back end house in the airports; to catalyse innovation by just having conversations and talking about what are the problems being faced in this region or that part of the world.”
Watch the full interview below.
For more on what to expect at the World Aviation Festival see:
To keep pace with the ever-increasing needs and demands, airports worldwide are constantly evolving. With air travel on the rise again, airports are not just expected to facilitate passengers and cargo movement; they also need to expand their horizons to cover other crucial aspects, like:
execution of seamless operations with low to minimal manual intervention,
augmenting safety and health protocols,
optimizing the use of facilities, preventing wastage, and becoming sustainable,
scaling up scrutiny and security, and,
boosting passenger experience.
At the same time, with the high scarcity of human resources in most of Europe and North America, the need to establish measures to utilize resources efficiently has never been as critical.
The challenges are not new; airports have been addressing them over the years by embracing technology at different stages of their growth. However, each of these challenges has evolved and needs airports to adopt state-of-the-art technologies to keep up with the changed dynamics. This evolving era of airport digitalization and digital disruption, which saw its inception decades back, constitutes what we call ”smart airports”.
Within the smart airport ecosystem
Smart airports stimulate the need for an integrated and comprehensive ecosystem that demands the airports to be not only fully functional but also intuitive, efficient, and predictive. This also requires that the manual airport processes, which are often slow and error-prone, be reduced and digitally governed to bring automation, efficiency, and accuracy to day-to-day functioning.
Smart airports are functional, intuitive, efficient, predictive, and digitally governed.
Therefore, it becomes imperative that digital technologies and solutions like cloud networks, biometrics, mobility solutions, data science and related fields, immersive technologies and IoT, and other sensors-based solutions, be leveraged increasingly to encompass the diverse areas of airport operations and processes.
Although the smart airport concept is blooming in several spheres, the following are the three regions where we think airports can drive maximum gains:
1. Achieving airport operational efficiency through data and digital engineering
Airports are structurally complex, and a single channel does not drive their smooth functioning. A deeper understanding of the intricate association and dependency of various airport departments has brought awareness that siloed operations cannot be the solution to achieving operational efficiency and resilience. Airport stakeholders need to be transparent and readily available with real-time data they can exchange to deliver consistent and exceptional performance.
With the right technology and data solutions, airport stakeholders can achieve efficiency and productivity.
To achieve this, more and more airports should start adopting networking and collaborative frameworks like AOP (Airport Operational Plan) and ACDM (Airline Airport Collaborative Decision Making). These frameworks encourage initiatives to promote data sharing and transparency within and between airports.
Data science and AI must be leveraged to derive meaningful insights from past and present data. Building such data-rich integration platforms can help airports extract immediate and real-time information from various interconnected departments. This will help smoothen communication and increase responsiveness in multiple ways. For instance:
Swift and efficient allocation of gates and counters to airlines
Smooth passenger flow management with better predictability
Better resource management
Improved runway slot adherence
Further, airports can also employ sensor-based solutions in various areas to improve efficiency. For example, using RFID-based solutions that can read data instantly from numerous items like luggage and cargo and can aid in bulk item transportation with proper tracking and tracing. Also, it simplifies the manual and time-consuming inspection of assets by instantly reading information like expiry date, next due scan date, etc., from the asset and sending it back to the data source.
Similarly, technology in the form of mobile solutions can also stand out in comparison to the usual paper-based checks. Their highly interactive and data-rich interfaces allow airport staff to send immediate updates, retrieve data, and take corrective actions.
2. Upscaling the passenger experience
Since passengers spend more than 60% of their total travel time at the airport premises, their comfort and convenience put a lot of onus on the airport’s authority. Even with many initiatives to smoothen the process, passengers invariably express their distress towards adhering to the airport’s elaborate checks and protocols. The actual journey that begins from flight take-off for passengers exhausts them beforehand due to the:
need to reach airports hours before flights take off,
long and unpredictable waiting times in several queues,
the exhaustive process of baggage tracking and collection,
extensive scans and scrutiny, and,
being unheard and feeling lost in the complex airport maze.
Understanding passengers’ needs, their interaction with various touch points across the whole journey, predicting their next move, recommending them with the right offer, and intuitively guiding them in the right way are some areas where airports can effectively act. Again, customer data plays an important role here. Keeping track of customer preferences, concerns, and historical transactions can help airports in improving those relationships and bring in a personal touch.
The long-term vision of airports for a passenger aims to shift the notion of “being stuck inside the airport” to “experiencing a world of leisure and excitement.”
With features like smart parking, virtual queues, digital identities, baggage notifications, personalized merchandizing and recommendations, smart menus and smart washrooms, virtual assistance, and an immersive feel, more and more airports can work to provide a different experience beyond the usual to the passengers.
3. Bringing in greener initiatives
Now that the aviation industry’s contribution towards global greenhouse emissions is well established (around 3% of the total emissions), airports need to pace up to achieve their target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 or before. The path to net zero is long and challenging, and although there are measures being taken, much is yet to be done in this zone.
By embracing smart operations using data and analytics, airports can reduce their carbon emissions.
Some ways to become a green airport would involve the following:
Tracking & Mitigation
The first step requires thorough analysis and regular tracking of direct and indirect sources that contribute to emissions. After that, airports need to define immediate short-term and long-term sustainability targets. To achieve this, airports must start by leveraging sustainability tracking solutions and showing progress towards net zero objectives. For example, using cloud-based sustainability platforms that offer detailed dashboards and provide periodic details on fuel consumption, offset achieved, emissions via waste, business travel, etc., and other sources and provide a clear progress report using science-based targets.
Moderating the consumption
Although some airports are also considering shifting towards renewable energy sources by setting up solar panels and using CNG, reducing incidents from day-to-day airport operations (wherein the consumption of resources like fuel, water, and electricity goes much beyond the need) should also be tracked. Keeping a continuous and consistent check on these expenditures would certainly go a long way in keeping up with the net zero goals.
Technologies like sensor-based IoT devices could also be harnessed to regulate the usage of electricity, water, and air conditioning as per need by sensing a human presence. Similarly, computer vision-based ML solutions could be used to build smart dustbins that identify types of waste and help in proper disposal. Leveraging AI and analytics could aid airports in measuring the food, paper, and other waste passengers generate. This can help drive eco-conscious passenger initiatives.
In the stride to become exceptionally performant, there is a continuous need for airports to explore further upcoming avenues and adapt. Also, emerging technologies and innovations play a huge role in curating specific solutions, and the coming times will see them being leveraged even more. It would be apt to say that with all these digital disruptions, the long-term vision of airports will be to bring efficiency, comfort, and luxury inside the terminals.
We at Nagarro bring in the much-needed technological and domain capabilities for building smart airports. To know more about how we can support you in your net-zero journey, contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As digital boarding passes and travel documents increasingly become the norm, how long will it be until the physical passport is no longer needed?
Mobile-based Digital Travel Credential (DTC) are paving the way for a future where the traditional passport is no longer necessary. ICAO explains a DTC:
“Is intended to temporarily or permanently substitute a conventional passport with a digital representation of the traveller’s identity, which can in turn be validated using the travel document issuing authority’s public key infrastructure.”
There are already pilots testing out the logistics of this shift. Finnair is the latest to experiment with the technology, launching a “world first” pilot programme alongside the Finavia and the Finnish Police. Running from late August until February 2024, passengers on Finnair flights to London, Edinburgh, and Manchester can register as a voluntary DTC user and use the ID when leaving air/or arriving in Finland.
The project is designed to test the DTC in a real border control environment, “allowing smooth and fast border crossings without compromising security.”
The Finnish flag carrier is not the first to experiment with this technology with IDEMIA and a Dutch Consortium testing the use of DTC-1 on KLM flights between Canada and the Netherlands for three months back in March.
Funded by the Commission, Finland’s DTC trial hopes to assess the technology’s ability to make the travel process easier for everyone. Would you be willing to leave your passport at home?
With the current landscape increasingly focused on digitization, AODB solutions sit at the backbone of modern airport operations, playing a pivotal role in the transformation of the aviation landscape. As the single source of truth, these solutions harness the power of real-time data and seamlessly integrate the complex array of airport systems and processes.
Making AODB solutions future-proof
The dynamic needs and ambitions of digitally-driven airports represent a difficult challenge for existing AODB solutions and their static software architecture: accessibility becomes increasingly important and providing stakeholders with access to AODB solutions from anywhere will ultimately become the status quo of modern airport operations, crucial for streamlining the operational workflows. Additionally, scalability is of utmost importance as the operational demands dynamically fluctuate throughout the year: AODB solutions should be able to scale both up and down based on changes in the volume of traffic. Therefore, highly accessible and easily scalable solutions are highly sought after, providing real-time data integration on a collaborative platform with particular focus on predictive capabilities, intuitive user experience and flexible integration with an unlimited number of airport systems.
An important operational concern of any airport is the ability to maintain uninterrupted operations at all times. Airports strive to minimise scheduled downtimes and the digital transformation process should increasingly enable continuous operations, upgrades, and maintenance without causing disruptions to the vital functions of the aviation ecosystem. Given the pivotal role an AODB plays in the operational management, the ability to ensure zero downtime and seamlessly provide software upgrades to AODB solutions without any impact to stakeholders and live operations is not simply a convenience – it becomes a necessity of utmost significance.
Complexity – no longer sufficient
As the operational brain of any airport, AODB solutions have become increasingly complex but the new era of digital transformation in airports deems this complexity no longer sufficient: the large volume of real-time data that can be harnessed for a variety of purposes means that standard AODB solutions which are operated separately and only used by a small group of stakeholders fail to maximise the potential of these data powerhouses.
Due to its highly strategic role within airport operations, AODBs tend to be last in line to undergo significant transformation and implement innovative changes. In reality, the innovative transformation within these solutions should sit at the centre of digitisation and should provide stakeholders with access to a highly accessible solution, providing a comprehensive suite of features designed to streamline and enhance every facet of airport operations. Some key features that quickly become an absolute necessity in AODB solutions include:
Real-Time Data Integration – flexible data engines should enable AODB solutions to seamlessly integrate live data from various airport systems, providing users with real-time processing of all operational data. The sharing of operational information with a wide variety of stakeholders promotes informed decision-making and cross-functional collaboration between all parties involved in the management of airport Additionally, any such solution should allow extensibility of its data model to include both new types of systems and data that appeared recently or will appear in the future.
Collaborative Platform: collaboration is key in streamlining airport operations and AODB solutions should become a platform which fosters this among all airport stakeholders, including airlines, ground handlers, airport staff, authorities and any other relevant Important capabilities such as A-CDM tools along with the implementation of collaboratively-agreed rolling plans as part of the AOP module make AODBs a centralised hub for communication, enabling synchronised operations in real-time and facilitating swift responses to unexpected operational changes or scenarios. Importantly, existing licensing models based on usage or number of users have rapidly become outdated and modern solutions must enable stakeholders to access the solution with the appropriate level of permissions based on their role in managing airport operations.
Predictive Analytics: as the single source of truth, AODBs have access to a very large volume of operational data and while reporting historical data is a key functionality, predictive analytical capabilities are becoming a key element in the process of transforming digital operations and increasingly critical for any AODB solution. Predictive capabilities should leverage the power of data analytics in order to provide predictive insights into potential disruptions and operational By proactively identifying issues, airport staff can take preventive measures, minimising disruptions and enhancing operational efficiency.
User Experience: In the realm of complex and efficiently managed airport operations, the success of AODB solutions often hinges on their ability to simplify complexity. Given the large volume of operational data that needs to be managed, providing stakeholders with a pleasant user experience is paramount: it enables them to fully focus on the critical decision-making for operational
The Cornerstone of Digitisation
As the aviation industry propels into the digital age and airports focus on the digitization of their operations, AODB solutions should become the technological cornerstone of this digital transformation process and empowers airports to not only meet but exceed their expectations in this new era of agile, data-driven, and passenger-centric airport operations. They should harness the power of real-time data with a suite of innovative yet fully comprehensive features that allows airports to streamline their operational workflows whilst providing all stakeholders with the insights required to adapt swiftly to dynamic operational scenarios.
In an industry where efficiency, collaboration, and passenger satisfaction reign supreme, AirportLabs’ SkyCore AODB emerges as a beacon of innovation and is a proven solution in some of the largest and most complex operations in the world, as well as in airports of a smaller scale.
Pay us a visit on September 26th – 28th at the World Aviation Festival in Lisbon, where you can schedule a demo of SkyCore AODB, take part in our our keynote presentation about the future of airport operations and engage with us during the panel discussion, where industry leaders will share insights on the role of emerging tech innovation in shaping the aviation industry.
Can low-cost-carriers squeeze more flights into their already packed schedules? Computer says yes.
Flight schedules are probably airlines’ most critical factor towards commercial success and for decades flight scheduling analysts have been tasked with the critical but challenging role of making sure they are profitable.
Arranging flight schedules is probably the most critical factor for determining if an airline thrives or flounders.
Increasing aircraft utilization is the number one strategic goal of all the low-cost carrier CEOs with which we have spoken.
Why? The airline industry is highly capital intensive and operates on razor thin profit margins. This is especially true for low-cost carriers (LCCs), for which the margin per available seat kilometer is only around 0.8 Euro cents, compared to 2.6 Euro cents full-service carriers; approximately 70% less.
Abrupt changes in the broader operating environment can quickly make such economics untenable.
This reality came into stark relief during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and 2021, during which 63 airlines failed or restructured, including LCCs such as Norway’s Norwegian Air, the UK’s Flybe and South Africa’s Mango Airlines.
Maximizing airplane utilization by increasing the number of sectors (a flight leg between two points) an aircraft can serve over a given period is achieved through optimizing the flight schedule.
Not only does maximizing aircraft utilization drive top- line uplift, but it also yields improvements in bottom- line performance.
Aircraft operating costs: Boeing has calculated how airlines can reduce aircraft related operating costs by increasing airplane utilization. A 5% reduction in aircraft related operating costs is achievable by increasing aircraft utilization by 20% when the average flight distance is 500 miles (800 kilometers) or less, which is a typical flight length for low-cost regional and domestic carriers.
Cabin crew costs: Improving aircraft utilization can directly increase daily flight hours per crew member, and improvements in crew productivity can lead to significant improvements in operating costs. Prior to the pandemic, Lufthansa modelled a 0.20 Euro cents improvement on CASK for its Eurowings subsidiary between 2019-2022 by taking various steps to improve crew productivity, of which one lever was flight schedule optimization.