Fly less or innovate more? Air France-KLM CEO criticises Schiphol flight limits

Fly less or innovate more? Air France-KLM CEO criticises Schiphol flight limits

Fly less or innovate more? Air France-KLM CEO criticises Schiphol flight limits

 

Last week, the head of Air France-KLM critiqued the Dutch government’s decision to tackle environmental challenges by cutting airline slots at Schiphol Airport.

The government said last June that flights from Schiphol would be limited to 440,000 a year, down from 500,000 in a bid to reduce noise and air pollution, as well as deal with staff shortages.

Tim Hepher and Joanna Plucinska from Reuters reported:

At a company even in Paris, Chief Executive Ben Smith said, the Franco-Dutch airline group had invested heavily in newer planes based on foreseeable capacity at KLM’s hub only to see the goal posts move abruptly.

Ben Smith told reporters “You know we have a whole network, a whole fleet plan which is 25 years based on these slots […] That’s quite a big hit [they] have given us there,” adding that government efforts to curb emissions would be better directed at helping to scale up production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The CEO’s comments outline an interesting debate surrounding aviation and climate change. Should efforts, especially at a governmental level, be directed at reducing the overall number of flights occurring or assisting innovative solutions designed to curb emissions?

Aviation is famously a “hard-to-decarbonise” sector and sits in the public spotlight. Consequently, there have been many calls by activists for people to dramatically reduce the number of flights they take or stop altogether. There are even discussions surrounding frequent flyer levies in an attempt to reduce the total number of flights.

However, the industry is simultaneously making strong inroads to dramatically reduce its environmental impact. Within the last year alone, there have been successful hydro-electric emission free test flights, developments in eVTOL aircrafts, landmark SAF deals, and more.

Undoubtedly there is a balance to be struck. But which area do you think governments should direct most of their attention towards?

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

SITA and Zamna partner to “fundamentally change data management within the aviation industry”

SITA and Zamna partner to “fundamentally change data management within the aviation industry”

SITA and Zamna partner to “fundamentally change data management within the aviation industry”

 

On 25 January, a press release confirmed that multinational information tech company SITA and travel identity company Zamna Technologies finalised their partnership deal.

The pair will be working towards creating an entirely digital travel experience.

Irra Ariella Khi, CEO, Zamna Technologies, said:

“Together we will leverage Zamna’s digitization of travel documents and processes through Identity Rails, to make travel significantly more efficient, and deliver secure travel identity for all — through airports and across borders.”

Together, the companies are “fundamentally changing data management within the aviation industry.” The collaboration between the two will simultaneously increase security for SITA’s clients through safe, private, and decentralised data management whilst improving the passenger experience.

Zamna uses a decentralised blockchain based model to transform how passenger data, such as passport, visa, and health information, is verified and handled. The solution brings security, ease, and efficiency benefits for travellers airlines, airports, and governments.

Their solution will also address the current frustrations of having to repeatedly present travel documents at each touchpoint. This will streamline the process for passengers, airlines, and airports, reducing processing times and facilitating a more seamless journey. The press release also highlighted the potential operational savings from the secure sharing of passenger data.

David Lavorel, CEO, SITA, said:

The partnership with Zamna Technologies powers the next step in the journey to SITA’s vision of enabling a truly connected and digital travel experience along with all the benefits it will deliver: efficiency, improved passenger experience, and increased security.”

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

’Tis the season to be canceled

’Tis the season to be canceled

’Tis the season to be canceled

 

What can airlines learn from Southwest’s nightmare before Christmas? And how can airlines take advantage of the new generation of SaaS technology to elevate customer loyalty?

Read our white paper: MAXIMIZING RECOVERY: THE FUTURE OF AIRLINE INDUSTRY IS DIGITAL

The Christmas holiday break is a testing time for all airlines, and there’s an inevitability to news of festive delays. In the last two storm-filled weeks of the year, over 15,000 Southwest flights were cancelled. Some 1.5 million customers had been affected. Yes, this is a more extreme example of recent disruption event, but are other airlines doing anything better when it comes to technology investments?

The unfortunate situation with things going spectacularly wrong for Southwest Airlines in the final days of 2022 is more common than we would like to believe. 80% of all airlines globally rely on manual or semi-manual procedures when it comes to disruption or crew management supported by outdated software long overdue. Has anyone stopped to think what a tremendous effect this has on customer loyalty?

Now the Christmas decorations are down and we’re back at work, what should airlines – big and small – take from Southwest’s experience?

 

When the storms hit, systems crumbled

 Southwest have always prided themselves on their staff, and rightly so. It will come as no surprise that, when the storm hit and flights began to be grounded, Southwest’s struggles to cope was not the fault of its people on the ground.

Indeed it’s been reported that hundreds of Southwest’s own pilots and crew members slept in airports next to passengers. Some stuck with nowhere to go. Others in a heroic effort to keep the wheels turning. As Captain Casey Murray, the president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said to CNN, “It’s phones, it’s computers, it’s processing power, it’s the programs used to connect us to airplanes – that’s where the problem lies, and it’s systemic throughout the whole airline.”

No, while short-staffing undoubtedly played some part in Southwest’s ability to recover, Southwest’s pre- Christmas failure was caused by an IT system unable to adequately respond to the level and severity of disruption that hit the airline over those first few stormy days.

The airline is now on the verge of a major technology evolution, serving as a prime example to others to lead the modernization and overhaul of operations tech stack.

 

Growing complexities, growing expectations: a perfect digital storm for airlines

It is a cautionary tale for airline CIOs across the US and beyond. Moreover, while the media has no doubt been hard on Southwest, the outside world’s patience with airlines is only getting shorter.

The complexities involved with operating an airline are constantly growing. But customer expectations of what they should expect from their air-travel experience are growing faster.

In particular, post-Covid, customers are increasingly expecting a far more holistic digital experience, covering all touch points at every stage in their journey, all through their own devices.

If their journey has been disrupted, they expect to be informed and helped instantly and seamlessly. And if this doesn’t happen? Airlines live in a world where one bad experience can be beamed to millions across the airwaves through the power of social media. It’s a tough gig.

If the airline can offer an element of surprise about the quality of extra-care, offer customers a choice of an overnight stay and implement personalization, customer loyalty will only grow higher.

 

SaaS: the secret weapon for staying up to speed

One piece of good news for airlines, though, is that the digital technology available to them is better, and more implementable, than ever before. Crucially, airlines no longer need to develop and support their own customized software (and should be wary of IT partners insisting they do).

Instead, airlines now have the option to choose reliable SaaS products available off the shelf in the cloud.

 

Implementation in weeks not months

One effect of this new wave of SaaS tech for airlines is that digital upgrades are no longer projects to be feared. Implementation times have been cut from months to often between 4 to 8 weeks depending on the scale of the upgrade. While this new generation of SaaS technology is also able to offer end-to-end services, powered by automation, that overcome the gaps that inevitably emerge when legacy structures are patched up and added to.

Modern SaaS technology for airlines can automate +80% of the operations required in crew planning and allocation even during times of disruptions and offer an easy communication channel to the crew through connected super-apps. Similarly, present-day technology can help eliminate airport chaos and long queues for stranded passengers, offering self-service solutions directly on their devices. It can deliver personalized options for a hotel stay near the airport, transfer service, refreshment vouchers, and information on the re-booked flight – all in one place for passengers while delivering the highest level of data and cost transparency back to the airline.

 

The right time to upgrade your technology is… all the time

All this is too late to save Christmas. But new storms will come. Disruptions will happen. The summer holiday season is soon upon us with more passenger volumes than ever before. Digitalization is the single most significant investment opportunity in the immediate future of airline travel.

It’s also a journey not a destination, with Digital tech a constant upgrade in progress – something SaaS technology is making possible. The sooner airline CIOs & CXOs can work together to implement this new wave of digital technology, the safer they are from being the next bad-weather casualty.

To learn more about how digitalization is changing the airline industry for good, as well as more about what airlines need to know, download our free white paper on MAXIMIZING RECOVERY: THE FUTURE OF THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY IS DIGITAL.

 


Article by Luca De Angelis, CEO, HRS Crew & Passenger Solutions. As the CEO of HRS Crew & Passenger Solutions, Luca De Angelis works today with multiple airlines to enhance their service and crew management operations.

 

Air France instigates “a more direct relationship with customers” through WhatsApp

Air France instigates “a more direct relationship with customers” through WhatsApp

Air France instigates “a more direct relationship with customers” through WhatsApp

 

Yesterday, Air France announced it is opening a new channel for communication with customers, WhatsApp.

The service is free and available seven days a week, in twenty-two countries, and in four languages (French, English, Italian, Brazilian/Portuguese).

Already offering customer communication via Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion users), the airline’s expansion to include WhatsApp demonstrates an awareness of the communications application’s prevalence, boasting 2 billion daily users.

Air France hopes this will encourage “a more direct relationship with its customers.”

In a press release, the airline explained customers can access support via WhatsApp with:

  1. Instant answers to common questions via the chatbot Louis and, for more specific answers, contact with an Air France representative.
  2. An option to opt in to notifications for each key moment of the journey. This includes boarding pass issuing, flight information (change in schedule or boarding gate; last call before the plane door closes), and baggage delivery belt location on arrival.

The shift will also promote ancillary sales through personalised promotions allowing customers to upgrade their travel experience with lounge access or seat selection.

Stéphanie Charlaix-Meyer, Air France-KLM Customer Service Director confirmed the new channel has been “an immediate success.”

Nicolas Farin, Head of Client Sales EMEA, Business Messaging at Meta said:

“We are proud to connect Air France with both new and existing customers through one of their most used communication channels. We hope this partnership will continue to improve customer journeys on WhatsApp, offering better, faster and more personalized experiences at their fingertips.”

You can access the Air France WhatsApp channel here.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

ZeroAvia’s zero-emission flight makes history

ZeroAvia’s zero-emission flight makes history

ZeroAvia’s zero-emission flight makes history

 

On Thursday, ZeroAvia successfully tested the world’s largest plane to be powered by a hydrogen-electric engine. The maiden flight of the 19-seater Dornier 228 twin-engine aircraft marks significant progress in the industry’s sustainable development. With substantial pressure on aviation to reduce its negative impact on the environment, ZeroAvia’s zero-emission flight bodes well for the future of the industry.

The flight was part of ZeroAvia’s Hyflyer II which was backed by the UK Government’s flagship ATI Programme to develop zero-emission flights.

Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO of ZeroAvia said:

This is a major moment, not just for ZeroAvia, but for the aviation industry as a whole, as it shows that true zero-emission commercial flight is only a few years away. The first flight of our 19-seat aircraft shows just how scalable our technology is and highlights the rapid progress of zero-emission propulsion. This is only the beginning – we are building the future of sustainable, zero climate impact aviation. Our approach is the best solution to accelerate clean aviation at scale.

The flight took place at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire, UK and lasted ten minutes. All systems performed as expected for the duration and the company is now on track to scale up the technology to larger aircrafts. The company’s press release highlighted that ZeroAvia’s 2-5 MW powertrain programme is already in action and seeks to apply this to 90-seat aircraft with further expansion into narrowbody aircraft demonstrators over the next decade. ZeroAvia will also be working towards certifiable configuration in order to deliver commercial routes using the technology by 2025.

Secretary of State for Business, Grant Shapps said:

“Today’s flight is a hugely exciting vision of the future – guilt-free flying and a big step forward for zero-emission air travel. It also demonstrates how government funding for projects like these is translating into net zero growth. […] The UK is a world leader in green aviation technology, and the global shift to cleaner forms of flight represents a huge opportunity to secure growth and jobs for our country. That’s why we are backing businesses who share our ambitions, reaping the benefits of green technology and growing the thousands of new, skilled jobs that come with it.”

For more recent news on sustainable aviation developments see NASA selects Boeing as partner for testing emission-efficient aircraft design.

At Aviation Festival Asia next month, sustainability strategy in the industry will be explored at length by top airlines in the region.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Schiphol Airport switches to renewably sourced Neste fuel for all diesel-powered ground handling vehicles and machinery 

Schiphol Airport switches to renewably sourced Neste fuel for all diesel-powered ground handling vehicles and machinery 

Schiphol Airport switches to renewably sourced Neste fuel for all diesel-powered ground handling vehicles and machinery

 

The aviation industry is facing significant pressure to pivot towards a sustainable future. But, to meet ambitious targets, evolution is required on the ground as well as in the air. One facet of this decarbonisation process is reducing the emissions caused by ground handling vehicles.

At Schiphol Airport, a new step in this journey has been taken. Schiphol plans to become the world’s most sustainable airport by 2030. Working towards meeting this target from a multitude of angles, Schiphol Airport has been electrifying its vehicles. However, not all vehicles have an electric or hydrogen alternative yet and therefore the airport has turned towards renewable diesel. Schiphol currently has around 1,900 ground handling vehicles with a diesel engine from pushback tractors to container loaders, aircraft fuel dispensers to conveyer belt loaders.

From January 2023 onwards, all the diesel-powered ground handling vehicles and machinery at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will use Neste MY Renewable Diesel™. This is a drop-in fuel produced from 100 per-cent renewable raw materials. Critically, the fuel does not require any modifications to existing vehicles or machines, energy systems, or fuel distribution infrastructures facilitating an environmentally minded and economical shift.

Denise Pronk, responsible for sustainability at Royal Schiphol Group, operating the Schiphol airport said:

“This is a significant step on the way towards a zero-emission ground operation in 2030. The vehicles for which there are currently no electric or hydrogen alternatives available can run on renewable diesel. Everyone on airside, where the loads are moved to or from the aircraft, is making use of it, including Aviapartner, dnata, Menzies, Swissport, KLM Ground Services and Viggo. We’re pleased about that. It’s also important that we all continue to expand the number of electric vehicles at Schiphol. We are also going to considerably expand the number of charging station.”

Neste are increasing their renewables production capacity to 5.5 million tons by the end of 2023 and a further 6.8 million tons by the end of 2026.

For more content on Neste, see Airbus and Neste sign MoU to advance the use of SAF.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

I asked ChatGPT what it means for the future of the aviation industry

I asked ChatGPT what it means for the future of the aviation industry

I asked ChatGPT what it means for the future of the aviation industry

 

Open AI has trained a state-of-the-art language processing AI model called ChatGPT. Specialising in efficiency, the possibilities that this technology opens up for businesses cannot be overstated. It speaks in a conversational way and has been described by a leading economist as “the calculator for writing.”  With the chatbot holding the potential to revolutionise operations across almost every sector, the topic has been heavily discussed while people discern what it means for their industry.

But what does this technology mean for aviation? I asked ChatGPT questions around this thought, and the answers speak for themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you think ChatGPT will transform operations in the aviation industry?

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Vueling to become the first LCC in Europe to accept NFTs as payment alternative

Vueling to become the first LCC in Europe to accept NFTs as payment alternative

Vueling to become the first LCC in Europe to accept NFTs as payment alternative

 

Last week, Spanish low-cost airline Vueling and cryptocurrency buying and selling platform Criptan announced their partnership. The pair are working together to enable Vueling to accept NFTs (non-fungible tokens) as payment.

From the second half of 2023, Vueling will offer passengers the option to purchase flights using NFTs making it “the first low-cost airline in Europe to accept cryptocurrencies as a payment alternative.”

Elaborating on the partnership, Jesús Monzó, Vueling’s distribution and alliances manager said:

“This agreement places us at the forefront of new technologies and innovation, further strengthening our commitment to our customers and offering the best and most advanced tools and solutions on our website.”

Jorge Soriano, CEO of Criptan emphasised Vueling’s commitment to forward thinking:

“Vueling is proving to be a leader in all that relates to innovation. This is a clear move that demonstrates the potential behind the crypto and Web3 ecosystem and that goes far beyond speculation […] We are convinced that we can improve the user experience, not only through payments in crypto but by bringing the advantages of this ecosystem in the most useful and simple way possible.”

Vueling is not the first to pioneer the overlap between cryptocurrencies and the field of aviation. In 2014, Air Baltic became the first airline in the world to accept bitcoin, closely followed by LOT Polish Airlines in 2015. Last year, the world’s first collectible NFTicket was sold for over $1 million for an Air Europa business class ticket from Madrid to Miami.

For more content looking at NFTs and the metaverse see How Is The Metaverse Being Used In Aviation?

At Aviation Festival Asia a CIO Panel will discuss how airlines in Asia are prioritising investments in a conversation that will cover emerging tech including NFTs and the Metaverse.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Travel chaos in the US illustrates the importance of up-to-date technology

Travel chaos in the US illustrates the importance of up-to-date technology

Travel chaos in the US illustrates the importance of up-to-date technology

 

Within weeks of one another, the United States’ aviation industry (US) experienced two severe disruptions causing travel chaos for passengers. Each of these had outdated technology as a crucial factor in the operational breakdown.

Between 22 and 28 December, there were over 16,000 cancelled flights, 90 per-cent of which were from Southwest Airlines. This was reported in newspaper headlines: “Southwest’s outdated technology is to blame for travel chaos” and “Southwest meltdown shows airlines need tighter software integration.”

On Wednesday this week, thousands of flights across the US were grounded again, disrupting approximately 10,000 flights. This time, headlines read: “All flights in the USA grounded due to computer glitch.”

 

Source: SkyNews. A map showing flights across the US at the time of the outage. Pic: Flightradar24

 

Upon examination, the main problem causing the delays at Southwest was its outdated optimisation technology, SkySolver. SkySolver assigns crew to flights. The system fell short, and its failure was heightened by the absence of front-end technology for inputting flight crew locations. Combined with a storm and staff shortages, the mass cancellations ensued. Southwest Airlines is one of the largest carriers in the US and the operational meltdown is predicted to cost the airline up to $825 million.

This week’s disruptions were the product of a corrupted file causing a glitch on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) computer system. The corrupted file affected both the primary and backup systems causing an outage to the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system that provides safety information to flight crews.

Airline Weekly reported that:

“The FAA’s air traffic control technology is known to be outdated. Agency administrators and legislators on Capitol Hill have repeatedly pushed for funding of the agency’s proposed NextGen upgrades to air traffic control but, as yet, most of the program remains pending until further funding from Congress.”

In both incidents, failing technology caused severe disruptions. These cases highlight the importance of having updated, well-maintained technology, and the consequences of not doing so.

It must be noted, these two incidents of mass cancellations and disruptions do not stand in isolation. Skift has reported that last year, Spirit Airlines cancelled 2,800 flights over 10 days due to technology problems and staff shorages. American Airlines and Southwest also cancelled 2,000 flights each within a short timeframe last year. Moreover, Delta cancelled over 3,500 flights over five days during severe weather conditions in April 2017.

The need to having updated, efficient, and reliable technology has been put in the spotlight in recent weeks. Significantly, the financial and reputational consequences of failing to do so have also been reiterated.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Insights from World Aviation Festival 2022 with Henry Harteveldt

Insights from World Aviation Festival 2022 with Henry Harteveldt

Insights from World Aviation Festival 2022 with Henry Harteveldt

 

As we settle into 2023, it is important to remember the lessons learnt in the previous year in order to grow effectively.

On the final day of the World Aviation Festival 2022, Henry Harteveldt took the time to reflect on the conference. Henry is one of the world’s best-known travel industry analysts and President of Atmosphere Research Group, a company providing market research and analysis to the global travel industry.

This conversation explores insights from the event in detail, elaborating on them with expert judgement. Three of Henry’s key takeaways from the event are detailed here.

One was the industry’s recognition of the need to collaborate. As Henry described, there was a general sense that the industry is at “the beginning of a new age where airlines are realising they can’t and don’t have to do everything on their own.”

A second observation was the strength of the resolve demonstrated at the event. Despite wide acknowledgement of the recent challenges the industry has confronted and continues to face, the overall spirit was one of determination and defiance.

The third was a discussion of how consumer mentally has evolved, at least in part, catalysed by the pandemic. Importantly, Henry highlights what this means for the industry in terms of meeting customer expectations and digitising the industry.

Watch the below interview to hear Henry’s answers to the following questions:

  1. What have been some of the prevailing messages from the conference?
  2. Has there been anything that has particularly surprised you or caught your attention?
  3. Sustainability and technology have been a couple of the predominant themes of late, can you think of any other themes that we might see join these two in the next year?

 

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Alaska Airlines improves onboard efficiency through real-time data sync

Alaska Airlines improves onboard efficiency through real-time data sync

Alaska Airlines improves onboard efficiency through real-time data sync

 

Today, 10 January Ditto announced its Intelligent Edge Platform is powering a new task management and peer-to-peer connectivity enterprise app for Alaska Airlines flight attendants.

Alaska Airlines is the first US airline to adopt Ditto. Providing software infrastructure enabling apps to synchronize data in real-time without internet connectivity, Ditto facilitates the efficient performance of internal processes. The infrastructure will power the airline’s crew-to-crew collaboration app, benefitting them with real-time, peer-to-peer communication.

Adam Fish, Ditto Co-Founder and CEO said:

“Ditto is excited about the opportunity to help Alaska Airlines digitize its crew members. Our Intelligent Edge Platform enables Alaska Airlines’ enterprise app to truly work at the edge which is where crew do their jobs […] Without the digitization of key processes, airlines miss out on crucial data and analytics as well as communications capabilities that are important for greater operational efficiencies and more highly optimized customer experiences.”

Access to real-time data and passenger preferences enhances the service that crew can provide passengers.

Alaska Airlines VP of Information Technology, Vikram Baskaran said:

“Our approach to developing frontline tools prioritizes close partnership with our Flight Attendants during each step of development. Ditto has been a great partner in ensuring our tools are seamless for our Flight Attendants. With their help, we have been able to support our workgroup by providing visibility of one another’s inflight mobile device to see when an order has been delivered in real-time.”

 

Business travel’s recovery

Business travel’s recovery

Business travel’s recovery

 

London Heathrow reported that business travel has been “showing signs of recovery.”

The airport showed that business travellers made up 21.5 per-cent of its total passenger traffic in the third quarter of 2022. By comparison, in 2019 they made up 28 per-cent of total traffic.

In the report, Heathrow stated:

“Although demand continues to be driven by outbound leisure; inbound leisure and business travel are showing signs of recovery.”

During the pandemic, there were many predictions surrounding the future of travel, and, more specifically, the future of work-related travel. Some suggested that the prevalence of technology enabling people to work from home would make the vast majority of business travel redundant.

However, as highlighted by Heathrow’s report, this does not seem to be the case.

So why have these predictions not translated into action?

In March, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and CULTIQUE published a white paper positioning post-pandemic business travel in an interesting light. It was entitled Why business travel is the centre of the new company culture.’ 

The paper framed the pandemic as presenting companies with:

“The opportunity to reframe business travel from a transactional mechanism to a transformational tool. Viewing travel as an impactful way to refocus business goals and reinvigorate fragmented company cultures can jumpstart an organisation’s ability to thrive in these uncertain times.”

It listed five key takeaways:

  1. Travel fuels your corporate culture
  2. Travel incentivizes your workers’ wellbeing
  3. Travel drives your employees’ personal development
  4. Travel provides your employees with autonomy
  5. Travel showcases your company values

There is no doubt that the global pandemic has altered traditional working patterns. Many companies no longer operate nine-to-five, five days a week in the office. However, new working patterns have not necessarily transpired as predicted during the pandemic.

Undoubtedly, there are many factors behind the return of business travel. The white paper makes an interesting case for some of the benefits of work-related travel.

What do you think is driving the return of business travel?

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

Read about the new(?) business traveller.

Four trends to look out for in 2023

Four trends to look out for in 2023

Four trends to look out for in 2023

 

2022 has been a mixed year for the aviation industry. It has been forced to respond to challenges caused by the war in Ukraine, rising oil prices, inflation, and more. Undoubtedly, 2023 will bring with it fresh challenges to which the sector must adapt.

However, it has also been a strong year for the industry. Travel and tourism has gradually recovered from the global pandemic, many Covid travel restrictions have eased worldwide, and the industry is set to return to profitability in the next year. Looking forward, here are four areas that we expect will continue to grow significantly in 2023.

 

Biometrics

Airlines and airports continue to streamline their processes while crafting the ultimate seamless journey for passengers. Biometrics has been a key development of recent times, eliminating the need for physical documents and reducing time spent queueing. Biometrics are physical or behavioural characteristics used to identify an individual. Common examples include fingerprints, iris scans, and facial recognition. Importantly, for the aviation industry, biometrics can make identification a more efficient and secure process.

We have already seen biometric technology be implemented into some areas of the aviation industry. However, this has not necessarily been a smooth adjustment. There are multiple challenges to integrating this technology including public concern over data usage, maintaining a connected experience across international waters, and many others. The full potential of biometrics in the travel industry has not yet been achieved and 2023 should see a development in this area.

 

Business travel

The standard role that travel played in business was overturned by the pandemic. With the use of Teams, Zoom, and working from home, it looked like business travel would be a thing of the past. However, as the world has returned to “normal,” business travel has not entirely disappeared. Rather, it has morphed into something new. That being said, companies are still finding their feet with what business travel looks like in a post-pandemic world. At the World Aviation Festival 2022, this was discussed in depth, with airlines witnessing a shift in the specific day passengers would travel for work, as well as different lengths of stays, and the emergence of the bleisure traveller.

Both Skift and Amadeus have identified companies’ relationships with travel as something to look out for in 2023. Skift pointed towards the war on talent and how companies should use their travel policies as an employee perk. Acknowledging the frustrations with managing air travel at the moment, Skift suggested that “organisations have an opportunity to differentiate their employee experience based on their travel program.”

Amadeus proposed a slightly different take, predicting that there will be an increase in business travel as a tool for team bonding. Citing the American Express Global Business Travel paper, ‘Why Business Travel is At The Centre Of The New Company Culture,’ Amadeus anticipates business travel playing a significant role in “motivating teams, improving employee satisfaction, and strengthening company loyalty.”

 

Data

Data is at the centre of many industries and aviation is no exception. The harvesting of information and subsequent processing of this allows for optimisation at every stage. Data analytics allow companies to run at lower operating costs and maximise efficiency across the board. This applies to everything from understanding how to target a customer to ensuring the minimum fuel load is carried and exerted allowing for more economical flights. Through gathering meaningful data players across the aviation industry can enhance their offering and adapt. Real-time processing of data comes with many challenges and is consequently less present. However, this is an area that is attracting a lot of attention in the industry and will allow companies to remain agile.

 

Sustainability

Sustainability has been one of the most prominent discussions in 2022. It is unlikely that this will change moving forward into the next year. As awareness of the environmental impact of travel has grown, the aviation industry in particular has come under scrutiny. With many key players committed to Net Zero by 2050 targets, there have been huge developments in sustainable travel already which are expected to continue into the next year. Conversations surrounding the scaling up of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production are expected to bear fruit in the coming years and even more widespread demand for SAF is predicted for next year. The continued shift towards optimised processes is likely to continue into 2023, helping the sustainability agenda as well as the general efficiency of the industry.

2022 has seen meaningful progress made in each of these four areas, and more. The advancements in these so far are only the beginning and we expect to see far more growth around them in the coming year.

What do you think will be the biggest area of development in 2023?

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

A snapshot of the week’s aviation performance in Europe 

A snapshot of the week’s aviation performance in Europe 

A snapshot of the week’s aviation performance in Europe

 

With 2022 drawing to a close, overarching conclusions are being drawn about the performance of the aviation industry this year. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) semi-annual report on the Global Outlook for Air Transport stated:

“In Europe some airlines’ financial performance has been curtailed by the war in Ukraine. Nevertheless, we expect the region to return to profitability in 2023 when a net profit of USD 612 million is forecast, following the USD 3.1 billion loss likely in 2022.” See more from this report here.

It is useful to contextualise these big picture predictions with a more detailed breakdown. Eurocontrol provides statistics and forecasts offering a detailed picture of European aviation performance. The latest weekly network overview is below, showing the top five aircraft operators, airports, and states as well as a rich breakdown of flight numbers, percentage of delays, and more compared against 2019 statistics.

 

Source: ©EUROCONTROL

 

To observe gradual shifts in the last half of the year, the same weekly network overview for previous dates can be found below. The data chosen shows the network overview for the corresponding week to the above (the second full week of the month) for alternate months since August.

 

Source: ©EUROCONTROL

 

Source: ©EUROCONTROL

 

With growth predicted for the European aviation industry, it is useful to see how airlines and airports are performing on a weekly basis within Europe.

 


Sources include: ©EUROCONTROL, Eurocontrol Twitter, Eamonn Brennan

Article by Jess Brownlow

 

The technology scrapping the liquids rule at UK airports

The technology scrapping the liquids rule at UK airports

The technology scrapping the liquids rule at UK airports

 

For years, passengers in the United Kingdom (UK) have had a strict limit on the volume of liquids allowed in their hand luggage. These restrictions have been in place since November 2006 after British police intercepted a planned attack using explosives hidden in drink bottles. Limited to 100ml or less, taking liquids abroad has been a cause for irritation for travellers. However, this is set to change in the UK’s major airports by June 2024.

In addition to improving passenger convenience, the technology is expected to reduce queues in the airport, streamlining and expediting the security process at the transport hub. The Department for Transport called this the “biggest shake-up of airport security rules in decades.”

The technology enabling this transition is computed tomography (CT) security scanners. CT based systems reconstruct data from hundreds of different views into 3D images of what’s in passengers’ bags. Airport staff will be able to rotate images and inspect bags in full. This will be combined with highly advanced threat detection algorithms to allows for precise decision-making. As well as removing the restrictions on liquids, passengers will also be able to keep large electrical items like laptops in their bags.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said:

“The tiny toiletry has become a staple of airport security checkpoints, but that’s all set to change. (…) By 2024, major airports across the UK will have the latest security tech installed, reducing queuing times, improving the passenger experience, and most importantly detecting potential threats.”

The scanners have been in action at London’s Heathrow airport since 2017, Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, and several United States (US) airports for a few years.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Finnair and Amadeus’ airline retailing transformation partnership

Finnair and Amadeus’ airline retailing transformation partnership

Finnair and Amadeus’ airline retailing transformation partnership

 

This week, the travel tech giant and Finland’s flag carrier have announced their partnership on the next-generation of airline retail offering. This is a first of its kind in the industry.

Antti Kleemola, Chief Information Officer, Finnair said:

“Enhanced digital capabilities are at the very core of offering customers the possibility to tailor their travel experience, and to offer a stellar customer experience. Better retailing capabilities including dynamic pricing, upselling, cross-selling, bundling and unbundling also support our target of boosting revenues and improving profitability. We are excited to continue this journey together with our long-standing partner Amadeus.”

Finnair and Amadeus will be collaborating to progress towards modern airline retailing, implementing new ways to deliver more value to airlines and provide an exceptional end-to-end experience for travellers.

Building upon existing capabilities between the two companies, the pair are bringing personalisation and real-time insights through the adoption of Offers and Orders. The collaboration will enable Finnair to enhance passenger experience at digital touchpoints, making them personalised and smooth.

This partnership will also enable Finnair to improve their service to customers during disruption and create package offers dynamically through real-time traveller insights.

Amadeus will offer Finnair access to smart bridging capabilities, allowing it to gradually move from the Altéa Passenger Service System (PSS) to the new retailing technology based on Offer Management, Order Management and Platform capabilities. Thus enabling business continuity, based on value driven initiatives to enhance efficiency during transition.

Maher Koubaa, EVP, Airlines, EMEA, Amadeus said:

“Amadeus is investing in making modern airline retailing a reality, powered by the cloud and agile development – and today marks a significant milestone on that journey. As we step into a new era of airline opportunity, we are delighted to partner with an innovative airline such as Finnair as we work together in new ways to bring to the market a retail offering that deliver more value to airlines. Finnair is the first to take this step with us and we are fully committed to partner with them throughout that journey.”

 

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

IATA’s call for government incentives to increase SAF supply

IATA’s call for government incentives to increase SAF supply

IATA’s call for government incentives to increase SAF supply

 

Last week, the Director General of The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments to put sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) incentives in place.

Over 450,000 commercial flights having already operated using SAF and a rapidly growing number of airlines are demonstrating their willingness to transition towards the jet-fuel alternative. Therefore, IATA are framing the problem as a supply issue, calling on governments to play their role in enabling the sector to reach net zero by 2050 targets.

Willie Walsh said:

“There was at least triple the amount of SAF in the market in 2022 than in 2021. And airlines used every drop, even at very high prices! If more was available, it would have been purchased. That makes it clear that it is a supply issue and that market forces alone are insufficient to solve it. Governments, who now share the same 2050 net zero goal, need to put in place comprehensive production incentives for SAF. It is what they did to successfully transition economies to renewable sources of electricity. And it is what aviation needs to decarbonize.”

According to the IATA press release, in 2021 100 million litres of SAF were produced. By 2050, estimates predict 450 billion litres of annual production will be required for airlines to achieve net zero targets. With SAF playing a fundamental role in mitigating the industry’s impact on the environment, it is imperative that production is scaled up to ensure the jet-fuel alternative’s availability.

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Willie Walsh explained that despite the tough few years the aviation industry has weathered, it is evident sustainability is still at the top of airlines’ agenda. The Director General did not try to sugar coat discussions around the energy transition:

“People who believe this transition will be painless are misleading. The cost to the industry at a gross level between now and 2050, we are talking about trillions of dollars. […] it is going to be a big challenge.”

However, Willie Walsh also explained the wider benefits to the transition. These include, reducing energy dependence on imports, creating sustainable jobs, and helping the environment.

You can watch Willie Walsh’s keynote interview at World Aviation Festival in October 2022 here.

To hear about the barriers blocking the broader production of SAF from Jan Toschka, President of Shell Aviation watch here.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

“The industry is not taking advantage of tech as much as it can.” An interview with Julie Shainock, Global Business Development Executive Microsoft

“The industry is not taking advantage of tech as much as it can.” An interview with Julie Shainock, Global Business Development Executive Microsoft

“The industry is not taking advantage of tech as much as it can.” An interview with Julie Shainock, Global Business Development Executive Microsoft

 

At the World Aviation Festival in Amsterdam, Julie Shainock Global Business Development Executive, Microsoft talked through the role technology can play as the aviation industry develops.

In this ten-minute interview, Julie explored three of the major themes for technology and aviation: sustainability, the cloud journey, and collaboration.

Importantly, Julie highlighted the ways that the industry has so far not fully leveraged the tools available to it. With technology currently outpacing adoption, aviation is far from attaining the levels of efficiency and optimisation on offer.

The Microsoft Global Business Development Executive explained ways that tech can help to address industry challenges. One asset technology offers is the facilitation of communication. Giving a simple example, Julie described the familiar scenario of long lines at passport control in an airport. Enabled by technology, airports and airlines can communicate their data effectively, allowing the airport to distribute staff more efficiently to provide a smoother journey for passengers through the airport.

Watch the short interview below to learn more about the ways technology help the aviation industry.

    1. What role does technology play in the push for sustainability within the aviation industry?
    2. You have previously said that ““The travel industry has historically been behind in the cloud journey” is this still the case? What role is Microsoft playing in the industry’s shift towards cloud optimisation?
    3. We understand that collaboration is key for industry growth but what partnership within the aviation verticals have you seen be particularly beneficial for the industry?
    4. What challenges can we expect to see regarding technology and aviation in the coming few years and how can these be overcome?

 

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

IATA and Travalyst’s strategic collaboration between airlines and travel tech sector 

IATA and Travalyst’s strategic collaboration between airlines and travel tech sector 

IATA and Travalyst’s strategic collaboration between airlines and travel tech sector

 

On 7 December, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Travalyst announced their collaboration with a view to providing consumers “consistent, accurate, and widely available calculation of their carbon footprint from air travel.”

This represents a significant opportunity for the decarbonisation of the sector as a whole by connecting key players in the travel industry. Travalyst, founded by Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex is a coalition of nine of the world’s leading travel and tech companies including Amadeus, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Google, Skyscanner, Travelport, Trip.com Group, Tripadvisor and Visa. Meanwhile, IATA represents around 300 airlines comprising 83 per-cent of global air traffic.

Sally Davey, CEO Travalyst said:

“This is the first time that airlines and the travel technology sector have come together in this way. As such it is a milestone moment in the decarbonisation of the sector. In the face of the climate emergency, travellers want and need clear and unequivocal information about their carbon footprint on which to base travel decisions. Today we are bringing some of the leading travel brands around the table with the world’s leading airline association, with the aim of easily providing consumers with the most accurate carbon calculations.”

The collaboration of Travalyst and IATA seeks to provide travellers with accurate, transparent, and consistent information on the carbon footprint of a journey. This will be calculated using the pair’s nuanced understanding of the traveller behaviour and data.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General said:

“Consumers want to understand the environmental impact of their travels. Both Travalyst and IATA are continuously working to improve their methodologies by incorporating emerging knowledge of climate impacts. So we are working together to provide the consumer with easy access to consistent calculations of the environmental cost of their travel.”

Strategic collaboration within the industry is set to play a considerable role in reducing the total carbon emissions of the travel sector. Connecting key travel and technology companies with airlines at this scale is an exciting development in the industry’s decarbonisation journey.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Virgin Atlantic’s inclusivity reforms lead to 100 per-cent increase in applications from candidates

Virgin Atlantic’s inclusivity reforms lead to 100 per-cent increase in applications from candidates

Virgin Atlantic’s inclusivity reforms lead to 100 per-cent increase in applications from candidates

 

For years the airline industry maintained strict regulations on the personal appearance of staff. However, recently many airlines have been updating their dress codes. Some examples of this include permitting male employees to wear makeup, relaxing footwear requirements, and giving all employees the option to wear trousers.

One airline making significant changes to their dress code is Virgin Atlantic. In recent months, the airline giant has strived to create a more welcoming environment for all – from employees to passengers.

The airline updated its gender identity policy in September, allowing employees to choose which uniform best represents them, regardless of gender, gender identity, or gender expression. Complimenting this, Virgin Atlantic began to provide optional pronoun badges for employees and passengers. The airline also gave their employees agency over whether to wear makeup, flat shoes, and trousers. Furthermore, they became the first British carrier to lift restrictions on visible tattoos for crew members.

Interestingly, CEO Shai Weiss told the Telegraph, their efforts to reform the traditional, aesthetics-focused sector has seen a 100 per-cent rise in job candidates. The airline has specifically connected this doubling of job applications to the changes Virgin Atlantic made to their dress code. Specifically, Shai Weiss attributed this to dropping requirements for staff to wear “gendered uniform options.”

Not stopping at dress codes, the airline has updated its ticketing system enabling customers holding a passport with gender neutral gender markers now able to select U or X gender codes on their booking and opt for the gender-neutral title, Mx. Currently, this is only available to citizens from a few countries including the US, India, and Pakistan. The airline is, however, working towards a more extensive solution allowing passengers to be addressed by their preferred pronouns whenever they interact with the airline.

As the industry shoulders a staffing crisis and young people do not turn to aviation jobs in the same numbers as before the pandemic, companies must attract potential employees in new and innovative ways. The measures taken by Virgin Atlantic have already led to a tangible increase in candidate applications. It will be interesting to see if more airlines will adopt these substantial reforms.

For more content on attracting people to the aviation industry see here.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow