When the Travel in Motion team was brainstorming about what the subject of our next blog and TiMCAST should be, I proposed the topic of the future of Departure Control Systems (DCS) in the context of order management. Our partner Daniel Friedli looked at me, smiled and said: “This will be our shortest ever blog, because there is no future for today’s systems of departure control”. As so often within the team, an interesting and energized discussion started, confirming that this an important topic. In the end, we agreed not to agree on the outcome related to the future of departure control systems, and here is why.
With the changes in the airline industry related to commercial business processes and the underlying technology systems, almost no areas remain untouched. That also goes for the DCS applications. These systems drive the “over the wing” passenger check in and boarding processes, and in addition very often the “under the wing” weight and balance of the aircraft. While the “under the wing” utilisation of DCS is mainly an airport operational process with (hopefully) no influence on the passenger experience, the “over the wing” components of DCS are key to the passenger experience and to many airline processes before, during and after the journey.
Over the past years, progress has been made allowing airline commercial systems to transform towards retailing and customer focused solutions as opposed to the flight related transactional legacy systems the industry. The New Distribution Capability (NDC), ONE Order, dynamic offers, the future of interline, and Settlement with Orders can all lead to process simplification should the airlines chose to embrace them. From a technology perspective, the implementation of these systems and the related potential new solutions will, at least partly, replace substantial parts of the traditional airline Passenger Service Systems (PSS) into which DCS is often embedded, or which feeds a third-party DCS with the relevant passenger and trip-related data.
To date, in the traditional environments, the reservation and ticketing components of the PSS would feed the DCS, either directly through interactive data exchange (especially if the DCS was a component of the PSS) or through forms of offline data exchange via a method often in EDIFACT-based legacy formats and teletype. In essence, the DCS was designed to support the passenger process for checkin and boarding in a very rigid and legacy-driven way. This demonstrates the potential to modernise this process, especially as leveraging passenger touch points for ancillary sales, improved passenger experience and learning about passenger behaviour was not core to the processes supported by a DCS.
The challenge for “over the wing”
As mentioned, the “over the wing” part refers to the actual check-in of the customer and related baggage, government data exchange, seat assignments and the boarding process. Currently, this solution is often a part of a traditional PSS or a stand-alone system if the PSS does not include this or if, for example, operational or regulatory reasons mean the PSS DCS cannot be used. By its legacy system nature and its lack of focus on the passenger experience, business opportunities such as the upsell of ancillaries during these airport processes is very often a challenge. The challenge can be characterised by the overly complex process of selling services and collecting payments during checkin. In addition, there is the lack of a 360-degree view of the customer to provide individual and dynamic services. This also leads to an inconsistent customer experience, driven by different system environments, best manifested at numerous different touch points, such as check in desks, kiosks, and self-bag drops at the airport. To make matters worse, the same airline could use different vendors’ solutions at different airports, all with differing levels of capabilities.
With the advent of ONE Order, or the concept of the order in general, the value of legacy DCS – as an IT solution, not the business processes and practices it addresses – is put in question. And, while the need for such systems will remain for years to come, the industry will witness a transition to more interactive and retail-focused solutions which will rely on the interaction with the order as a single source of truth.. The DCS of the future might basically be a user interface on any device which interacts with the order management solution to query which customer is about to travel, what the individual’s needs could be and dynamically propose ancillary services, trigger the exchange of data with governments and update information received. Further, the “check-in status” will be recorded in the order directly, as will information such as baggage tag numbers, seat assignments, advanced passenger information status and other relevant travel data. But the order will be the one and only master record as a single source of truth, allowing various transactions from different system to simultaneously update the order in real-time. Through this the customer will be individually identified at every single touch point during the check in, boarding process and upon arrival. By accessing the order, as well as the customer profile, individualised offers and tailored services can be created for the traveller. This can greatly enhance the customer experience as well as the airline’s servicing and sales opportunities, and greatly streamline airline processes, increase their revenue, and increase customer satisfaction.
The need for a system that supports the passenger airport process will remain. Not only legal and regulatory requirements such as advanced passenger information demonstrate the need for such systems but also the inherent capability to “register” a customers readiness to travel. However, the facilitation of these processes will be integrated into the airline’s order system more and more, should the airline choose to enter this strategic path. In these cases, we will see a merge of the traditional DCS capabilities into Order Management Systems (OMS). Albeit for years to come, many airlines will remain on legacy PSS, and specific airport environments will dictate a legacy DCS as we know it today.
So, in essence there is no clear “yes or no” answer about the future of DCS – it is the famous “it depends”. While the need for “under the wing” operational support systems such as weight and balance systems will remain, the future of the “over the wing” depends on the path an airline takes: will its commercial operations be based on full offer and order, what are the requirements of the local airport environment and, last but not least, how big is the appetite to innovate and transform?
But there is at least one consistency: within the TiM Team we had another enticing discussion. And, even if we were not all completely aligned, we did agree that we, as avid industry observers, will closely follow the developments and continue assessing the need and feasibility of the DCS as it is today.
Separating Speculation from Situational Awareness in the Aviation Threat Landscape
Aviation as a Target
As passenger numbers recover from the pandemic, companies are dusting off investment plans in their digital infrastructure in an increasingly hostile threat landscape. Prior to the pandemic, roughly $899 billion was spent on air transport worldwide, amounting to $2.7 trillion in global economic impact. Likewise, global commercial airlines reported $865 billion in revenue, a potential gold mine for malicious actors.
The introduction of global lockdown measures to thwart the spread of the novel Coronavirus caused an unprecedent collapse in global mobility, resulting in a 74% plummet in international tourist arrivals, a loss of an estimated 62 million jobs worldwide, and a $4.5 trillion drop in the Travel and Tourism sector’s contribution to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The key role Aviation plays in economic security, passenger travel, and global trade in conjunction with its status as an industry which collects, transmits, and hosts vast amounts of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and financial data, marks the aviation sector as an enduring high-value target to both state-sponsored and criminal actors.
Depending on the sophistication, scale and frequency of attacks, cyber incidents in this space have the potential to compromise or expose passenger or employee data, disrupt critical services, damage or destroy highly specialized equipment, and may ultimately result in the loss of human life. Simply put, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
The challenge is amplified by the range of services and companies that are part of the supply chain for the airline and transport industry. With travel companies, airport logistics, cargo, in-flight entertainment, catering services extending the attack surface available for attackers to probe for potential weaknesses.
Today, the rapid adoption of new ‘seamless’ technologies into the ecosystem of the air transport sector is giving way to an emerging extension of a global landscape that is already under siege. Defending digital territory of this magnitude takes actionable insight.
Whether the services are provided by wholly owned subsidiaries or key suppliers, the customer data which flows through the ecosystem to provide a seamless customer experience need to be secured and monitored to ensure a breach does not disrupt passenger journeys, damage passenger confidence, or incur significant fines.
Staying Airborne During the Pandemic
To keep the collective industry afloat, individual nation-states devoted more than $243 billion to support the preservation and advancement of their respective air transport enterprises and chosen national champions. Meanwhile, the global air transport industry sought out new digital solutions to adapt to new health and safety standards.
To reduce restrictions on travel impeding the recovery of international tourism, the aviation industry accelerated the fielding of new Digital Travel Credentials (DTCs) to enable passengers to securely authenticate, store, and communicate valid travel documents and vaccination requirements. Likewise, to personalize passenger experiences and directly deliver targeted content to consumers, airlines embraced the rapid proliferation of new carrier specific new distribution capabilities (NDCs).
Ready to take full advantage of developing technology in the industry, malicious actors orient and adapt attack techniques to exploit emerging trends. In the case of Digital Travel Credentials, between January 2021 and February 2022, IBM X-Force uncovered more than 100 doppelganger webpages impersonating authentic National Public Health Authority (NPHA) websites issuing COVID-19 DTCs. The actor-controlled sites imitate government Ministries of Health, and similar NPHAs from over 10 countries, harvesting user credentials and generating fraudulent certificates.
IBM X-Force Research- Dredging the DarkWeb
Dredging the Darkweb, X-Force uncovered several instances where criminal actors posted enticing advertisements containing links promising access to application downloads related to Departure Control Systems, Flight Management Computer, and Flight Management Systems. The posts proclaim to have information regarding cargo flight timetables covering international air, as well as Codeshare information. Those that take the bait do not land on the app, but instead find themselves on a SecureFiles page, leading to a “Download” button, likely enabled to harvest credentials.
In the almost-anonymous non-indexed space, criminals bring their data to sell (or make freely available) on file-sharing sites, forums, and underground markets. Researching the new NDC apps in the air transport environment, X-Force unearthed potential log sales for at least 6 International Air Transport Association (IATA) accredited level 3 and 4 organizations, as well as databases for airlines providing charter domestic, international passenger, and cargo services. Further searches yielded more furtive aviation-related data such as cockpit recordings, flight records, information regarding directors of flight operations, and licensing information for individual air transport pilots- all potentially posing a significant risk to airlines.
While our IBM X-Force team researchers monitor the dark recesses of the internet for evidence of breach and emerging threats our IBM security consultants are supporting clients around the globe in securing their infrastructure, applications and workforce. Using the principles of ZeroTrust when migrating critical data and services to the cloud, transforming and accelerating application development by implementing DevSecOps practices and tooling to build security in at the beginning, and transforming the culture and awareness of security from the board room to the check-in desk. As a key transformation partner helping our clients secure their Hybrid Cloud journey IBM has unique insight into the challenges facing the industry and services and solutions to support them.
To hear more about the threats and challenges facing the airline and travel industry please join IBM at the cybersecurity panel: “How can we increase cyber resilience and reduce the business impact of cyber risk in the aviation industry?”
The event takes place at 12:35 on the 6th of October within the World Aviation Festival Event. You’ll get a look into the cost of a data breach in the aviation industry, learn how to assess, reduce, and manage industry risk, and learn about your peers’ experiences with building resiliency to mitigate impact and cyber risk.
How Can Airlines Maximize Revenue From Existing Visitors?
Improving the sales performance across direct digital channels is a key objective for any modern airline. But with an army of users online at any one time, each looking for a flight or holiday specific to their individual needs, how can the aviation industry present the most relevant information to every single user?
Converting more users is a key target for most e-commerce sites, but maximizing revenue from each visitor is equally important. And to do that, you need to connect with your customers on a one-to-one level.
Traditionally, airlines have segmented digital audiences with business rules. If people fulfilled certain criteria or acted in a particular way, they would be targeted as part of a segment. When an airline’s sales pace was slow, strategy often relied on offering vouchers or incentives to drive bookings to broad segments.
Whilst such offerings would improve booking pace, it was ultimately diluting the revenue taken by the airline by providing discounts or value adds to people who would have booked without any incentive. Segmentation simply can’t account for the varying motivations of individuals, treating everyone in the same group exactly the same way.
The challenge for airlines was set: how can they better profile – on an individual basis – every user to drive higher revenue through strategic sales-led initiatives, avoiding revenue dilution whilst achieving higher conversion goals?
Machine learning is the key to understanding individual online users in real-time and at scale. By implementing a personalization platform, a customer-centric approach is able to form the basis of every sales and marketing decision.
Utilizing real-time customer-level signals throughout the user journey, technology can respond automatically to shopping behaviors. At BD4, we call this ‘Human touch e-commerce’ – and our work within the aviation and travel industry proves that individual-level modeling works.
Ensure effective allocation of incentive funds and optimize budgets
With a deep understanding and connection to customers, airlines are able to present individually tailored messages which are relevant to each person within their broad audience profile. Deploying automated AI allows airlines to offer digital interventions at the most appropriate stage of the booking process, removing the risk of revenue dilution for customers who were already determined to book.
To prove the effectiveness of a targeted approach, multiple tests under transparent control periods are run, from the initial Learning phase (as we know every airline and indeed every company has nuances in their audiences), to a Training period. This is followed by a Test and Control period, highlighting the impact of the tailored interventions, before implementing the optimized solution across the site. Driven by AI technology, the platform continually learns and improves the algorithms to ensure airlines are always adapting, and moving forward with their audience.
The latest AI-driven interventions for airline customers focus on providing intelligent incentives to drive bookings – intelligent in a way that only those users who needed an incentive to be converted saw a discount campaign. The individually targeted incentives have shown up to 6% uplift in revenue per user, and saved more than USD 1 million versus a more traditional, scatter-gun segmented approach to distributing vouchers and incentives. All this was achieved with a significant return on investment – up to 8 times! Read more about this specific project in our case study .
Helping airlines form meaningful connections with their customers
At BD4, we work with multiple airlines and well-known holiday brands, including easyJet holidays, Royal Air Maroc, and Etihad Airways.
The different stages of the digital buying journey enables a multitude of use-cases to connect with customers on a personal level. By interacting with customers on a one-to-one level, technology is able to humanize a company within the digital realm. And it’s this human touch e-commerce that helps companies maximize the value from each customer.
Discover more about BD4 online or visit them on stand 12.610 during the World Aviation Festival 2022.
Sky Gods – The Price of Our Love of Flying (Documentary)
This documentary lays out the conflict that many are familiar with by now: a love of flying and everything it brings vs. the knowledge of the harm it does to the environment.
Produced by Sarah Robertson and Bernice Notenboom, the documentary follows Notenboom (an explorer and climate journalist) on her journey to understand carbon. Along the way, Notenboom meets with airlines and airport leaders, scientists, academics, and environmental experts to get a rounded perspective on the relationship between aviation and the climate.
The first half of the documentary forces viewers to address the cognitive dissonance between flying and the damage it causes. Opening with upsetting footage of the Chile fires, and painful facts about the shrinking of the arctic ice, the reality of the climate crisis is brought home.
Turning to the aviation industry’s role in this, the quantities of jetfuel that are burned through are highlighted, stating that in 2019 global production reached 200 billion litres a year. Delving deeper, issues that have made headlines recently are explored such as contrails which are responsible for two-thirds of aviation’s contribution to environmental problems.
These problems are contextualised with the late explosion in numbers of passengers with the increase in Chinese passengers, the rising luxury of business travel, and unsustainable millennial travel habits who are vacationing for an average of thirty-five days a year. One particularly powerful message conveyed was that only five per-cent of the world’s population has ever flown in a plane. The problems caused by the few and being paid for by the many.
Aviation’s impact on the environment is something everyone is aware of, but viewers are forced to sit and confront it. The message is clear: things cannot continue this way.
Whilst the impact flying has on the climate is made indisputably clear, the documentary also highlights the reality that flying is not going to disappear. Planes have the ability to connect families, show people the world, and access incredible opportunities – they are sky gods.
Consequently, the second half of the documentary pivots towards how we can make aviation compatible with a respect for the environment. Here, Notenboom explored the various ways experts are attempting to reconcile these. From carbon fibre planes, to fuel efficient engines, streamlining of routes, and the limitations of carbon offsetting.
In a particularly interesting conversation, Notenboom asks easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren why do they not just raise ticket prices thereby cutting the number of flights. In response, Lundgren describes it as “a dangerous social experiment” to turn the clocks back to a time when only the privileged and wealthy could fly. This again highlighted the complexities involved in solving the climate problem.
The solution appears to be technology. Through an inspiring set of conversations with scientists and experts, Notenboom explores the development of sustainable aviation fuels, hydrogen fuels, electric planes, biofuels, and synthetic jetfuel. This would enable carbon to be cut at the source as opposed to offset. The countless people working on these solutions was inspiring, but again, not without limitations. The price, availability, and demand are all areas which need to be resolved.
The overall message of the documentary was: although the various industries involved are working to make flying reconcilable with addressing climate problems, currently the technology is not where it needs to be. As a result, for now people should reduce flights where they can whilst the industry fights to make flying genuinely sustainable.
Touching, realistic, and well-rounded this documentary explores the impact of aviation on the environment whilst remaining attentive to the subtle complexities of addressing this problem.
This documentary will be shown at this year’s World Aviation Festival. The trailer can be watched here.
Sustainability is a huge topic this year at the World Aviation Festival with industry experts gather to discuss how to meet sustainability targets.
The 2022 CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue published by IdeasWorksCompany, is a comprehensive analysis of the ancillary revenue performance of 75 global airlines. Released this week, the report breaks down ancillary revenue performance from 2019 to 2021, investigates how airlines have recovered since the pandemic, the new or expanded ancillary products they’ve introduced to accommodate changing customer needs and behaviours, and much more.
Responding to a crisis
The airline industry has certainly had a tough time over the last two years, and the aftershocks are not over yet, with staff shortages due to illness still impacting travel. However, there has been strong recovery, thanks in part to the airlines’ ability to pivot and respond not only to changing mandates, but to changing customer needs and behaviour.
Ancillary products and their revenue have been a key driver of the airlines’ path to recovery, and The2022 CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue shows promising results from the 75 airlines covered. Due to the pandemic, the yearbook is comparing 2021 to 2019 rather than 2020, to give a more accurate view of ancillary revenue performance after the pandemic.
Recovery is happening
In 2019, the global estimate of ancillary revenue was $840 billion. In 2021, that estimate is $462 billion – a significant decrease – although still a 32% increase on 2020’s performance ($350 billion), showing strong recovery, despite ongoing obstacles. While some markets (Asia and the South Pacific) are still not travelling at the same rate as pre-pandemic, most markets have shown strong travel increases from 2020, with MENA at 102% YOY in 2021, Europe at 84.3% YOY and North America at 79% YOY.
Many airlines saw significant increases in ancillary revenue from 2019 to 2021, including Wizz Air, the top performing airline whose ancillary revenue accounts for 56% of total revenue, an increase of 10 percentage points from 2019. Please see article here to learn more about Wizz Air’s ancillary revenue.
All carrier categories saw their ancillary revenue increase from 2019 to 2021 with low cost carriers seeing the highest increase at 36.3%.
Ancillary revenue per passenger also increased significantly with the top performer, HK Express, now having a per passenger revenue of $88.21 – an increase of $60.36 from 2019.
The five largest US airlines (Alaska, American Delta, Southwest, and United) generated $16.4 billion from their frequent flyer programs in 2021 – down from $19.5 billion in 2019, however, when this revenue was measured on a per-passenger basis, the result for 2021 was $30.88 per passenger up from $25.71, a 20.1% increase. This shows passengers may be flying less, but spending more.
Changes to increase conversion
Airlines have continued to optimise their ancillary products to drive conversion, and accommodate changing customer needs and behaviours, following two years of very little travel. Some expanded product offerings include large carry-on fees, extra legroom zones, subscription-based benefits, price freeze, and prepaid change flexibility.
To see a complete breakdown of 75 airlines’ ancillary revenue performance in 2021, insights into how to better optimise products to increase conversion, changes that airlines have made or are planning to make to their products and much more, download
As the boundaries between physical and digital are blurred, the world transitions into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Centred around fusions of technology, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing.
Digital Twins are part of this Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Virtual replicas of physical devices, products, or entities created by combining data with machine learning and software analytics to create digital models that update and change alongside their real-life counterparts.”
Within the aviation industry, Digital Twins utilise big data to allow for the streamlining of processes, identification of future challenges, and acceleration of new tech. Through the Digital Twin, new practices can be attempted without impacting the original enabling companies to answer the “what if” scenarios. These also provide companies with huge datasets which can then be used throughout the business.
Although less than five per cent of businesses currently have Digital Twin technology, by 2028 the global Digital Twin market is set to be worth $96.32 billion.
How it works
A Digital Twin is made by “gathering data and creating computational models to test it. This can include an interface between the digital model and an actual object to send and receive feedback and data in real time.” Within aviation, this technology is being applied in two main areas of the industry: in creating the plane and streamlining airports.
On the plane
Manufacturers of aviation components are utilising Digital Twins to aid their production. Through creating a Digital Twin, the engineer does not need to rely so heavily on probability and can instead turn to virtual model. Rolls-Royce, who produce engines used in aviation, currently utilise Digital Twins to fine tune their engines and simulate a variety of conditions.
To ensure the Digital Twin is accurate, sensors are installed on the physical engine to collect data which is fed back into the Twin in real time. This enables the Twin to “operate in the virtual world as the physical engine would on-wing.” This is then used to simulate a variety of circumstances which you would not wish to replicate on-board, enabling insight into the engine that would not previously have been available. Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world also utilises Digital Twin technology in their development and saw a forty per cent improvement in first-time quality of parts.
In the airports
Digital Twin tech is also used to create digital models of physical airport environments. This is used to optimize operations, costs, and passenger experience. Willow and Parsons Corp. won a five-year contract from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Airport to create and support a digital twin for their maintenance and operations of Runway 18R/36L and Terminal D. As these were recently renovated the airport already possessed significant volumes of data to fill into the Digital Twin. In the case of DFW, it is a cloud-based twin which will eventually be filled with forty years of accumulated information from the airport.
Vice President of Informational Technology at DFW International Airport, Michael Youngs described the Digital Twin technology as being able to “provide real-time situational awareness and drive operational efficiencies. […] to ultimately get to a place where you can anticipate an issue even before it occurs, so you’re improving your operations and, at the same time, ideally making for a pleasant passenger experience.”
DFW is not alone in their pursuit of Digital Twin technology, Gerald R. Ford Airport in Michigan partnered with Aurrigo to create a Digital Twin to simulate circumstances like severe weather and flight delays. Hong Kong International Airport is also experimenting with Digital Twins.
At this Year’s World Aviation Festival, Robert Horton from DFW Airport will be presenting on “How DFW are using Digital Twins, AI, IoT, and other game changing tools to hit ambitious sustainability goals” there will also be a roundtable on “Digital twin or digital disaster? Building with clean data.”
It is widely known that during 2020, ancillary revenues played a key role for airlines whilst planes were grounded and ticket sales paused. This study highlights the continued importance of ancillary revenues to airlines as we return to normal, shedding light on one of the key channels of revenue within the industry.
Defining ancillary revenue as, “revenue beyond the sale of tickets that is generated by direct sales to passengers, or indirectly as a part of the travel experience,” the yearbook looks at a collection of 75 airlines including the world’s “most prolific users of ancillary revenue.”
The study compares the 2021 data to the pre-pandemic 2019 data as the 2020 results are overly affected by the pandemic and therefore are not as useful for producing a comparison.
Results showing the top ten high-performing carriers based on ancillary revenue as a per cent of total revenue were as follows:
Wizz Air 56.0%
Viva Aerobus 44.8%
Ryanair Group 44.7%
Wizz Air had multiple ancillary revenue activities including airport check-in options, airport transfers and parking, assigned seating, “sitting together” fee, auto check-in, on board food and beverage, fare lock, fast track security, and on time arrival guarantee to name only a few.
At the Future Travel Experience EMEA event in Dublin, Robert Carey Wizz Air President discussed how the airline became the number one for ancillary revenues. Carey highlighted partnerships between airports and airlines, as one of the most important ways to extend opportunities and “interact with customers in new ways to grow business for all parties.”
The results of CarTrawler’s Yearbook highlighted the importance of ancillary revenue to airlines’ revenue in 2021. This year’s World Aviation Festival will feature an ancillary panel, an interview with Eddie Wilson from Ryanair DAC regarding the “future of market share, competition, digital transformation and ancillaries at Ryanair,” as well as a presentation by CarTrawler CEO Cormac Barry on “maximising ancillary revenue through technology and innovation.” Robert Carey, Wizz Air will also be speaking on “what is the next step in Wizz Air’s ambitious expansion strategy and how can it maintain that growth while still meeting big sustainability targets?”
The Third Horizon of Opportunity – High-Performance Retailing
The event season is a great time of year to lift our heads from the busy day-to-day and look at what is on the horizon, at the trends shaping the airline industry. The funny thing about horizons is that you never really get there, but it’s where new eras dawn. Accelya’s Tye Radcliffe, SVP of Product Strategy for the Order group, gives his perspective on the market as the industry emerges into the third horizon of value. Tye will be talking to people about this topic while ‘on the circuit’ over the coming weeks. So, what does it mean?
The first horizon
The first horizon was operational – getting passengers from A to B. The industry depended heavily on big, monolithic mainframes that enabled just that – and very successfully. Then the internet arrived. Airlines began investing in their digital direct storefronts so customers could start making bookings from their computers. Customers began to want and expect more. Plus, airlines wanted to be more innovative and directly service the needs of their customers! It was a frustrating time for many.
The second horizon
Airline frustration with the status quo made way for the second horizon characterized by airline-controlled distribution with NDC – and the freedom to create offers. The industry’s new rally cry was one of ‘retailing!’. Airlines would use data and rules to tailor core offers, ancillaries, and bundles. The offers would be made according to the customer’s wants and what’s right for the airline business – at that time.
The third horizon
Replacing monolithic with modular, and embracing ONE Order and science rather than rules, brings us into the third horizon of high-performance retailing.
ONE Order collapses data into a single order record. People or technology can access the data anywhere across the retailing and travel experience. This new accessibility makes way for a seamless interdependence between offer creation, order management, payment, fulfilment, and settlement. If an element in the experience changes, voluntarily or otherwise, a high-performance retailing platform adapts as a result. For example, suppose someone’s interline flight segment is cancelled while they are at the airport. Data science models and flexible, best-of-breed retailing technology could step in to power a better experience. Ancillary purchases could be automatically rolled into a new flight option. The customer could be offered half-price lounge access from a third-party provider to compensate for their wait. This offer could be made at any touchpoint from airport operations crew to a message to their phone in real-time. All this would happen without disruption to downstream processes such as accounting and revenue integrity.
The interdependence of best-of-breed retailing components, acting in unison according to changes in the retailing or travel experience, would create a perpetual motion of value to customers, the airline, and its partners. That is high-performance retailing.
This scenario may be on the near-term horizon for innovators and visionaries. But if your airline is not there now, how can you prepare for high-performance today? Think A to F.
A to F
A – Accounting and Finance: Prepare downstream processes for retailing
B – Bundles and Ancillaries: Introduce dynamic retailing of products such as premium seats, meals, WIFI, lounge access, and bundles
C – Core Offers: Add more agility to your revenue management processes by using more data sources such as competitor data
D – Distribution: Control your channels with NDC and encourage channel adoption with distinctive offers
E – Enrich: As you get more sophisticated, consider enriching your retailing strategies with data science to finetune offer creation and optimization
F – Freedom: Break free from legacy constraints by swapping monolithic with modular and embracing best-of-breed.
If this topic interests you, join me at the World Aviation Festival for my roundtable on October 5 at 11.20 am.
Article by Tye Radcliff, SVP Product Strategy (Order Group)
If you would like some fresh thinking about airline retailing, then check out Accelya’s Air Transformation Lab. This is where we ask a fundamental question: when it comes to the path to distribution freedom and high-performance retailing, where is your airline on this route? Join us on this exploration into airline retailing from various vantage points to inspire your journey ahead.
AirAsia Introduce ‘airasia Holidays’ to Their Super App
This month, the airasia Super App introduced ‘airasia holidays.’ Adding to the Super App’s brand as the ultimate one-stop-shop, users in Malaysia and the Philippines will now be able to customise their entire holiday itinerary. This will include adding flights and hotel bookings to create one cohesive holiday bundle without ever leaving the app.
The CEO of airasia Super App, Amanda Woo said:
“airasia holidays offers our app users a more robust, holistic and convenient booking experience with our capabilities as an airline and in hotel inventory management. With over 50 million active users in our database, we have a unique capability to offer personalised suggestions of holiday activities, flights, and hotels suited for each traveller, all through one convenient platform.”
The Super App will now allow users to book holidays in four simple steps:
Select ‘Holidays’ on the airasia Super App
Select the activity
Add flights and pick from the hotel options
Confirm the booking
The entire booking will be condensed into one payment which can be paid for through the app. Additionally, once the holiday begins, users can use the Super App as a hub through which to check-in for flights and demonstrate booking confirmations to both the hotel and activity provider.
The Super App will enable all of the above to be booked with low prices, expanding their repertoire as an all-in-one low-cost platform. Additional benefits include shopping for duty-free products, flight updates, check-in reminders, exclusive promotions, and the ability to connect with other travellers.
All in-app purchases including flights, hotel stays, airasia ride, and airasia food earns users points which can be used against future purchases, rewarding customers for their loyalty with discounted flights and bookings.
Currently, airasia holiday users will select their flights from bundles with AirAsia. However, Woo has revealed the Super App are “working on enabling airasia holiday customers to select flights from other airlines too, effectively pushing the limits of the holiday destinations they wish to explore.” Although initially commencing in Malaysia and the Philippines, airasia holidays will eventually be rolled out to other markets.
AirAsia created the airline industry’s first super app. The app was developed during the pandemic, offering the budget airline an alternative revenue stream. Building on a vision to become the leading digital travel and lifestyle platform in Asean, the app initially incorporated food delivery, e-commerce, and e-hailing arms. As travel reopened users could book flights on over 700 global carriers and stay with over 700,000 hotels globally. The app is currently working with in strategic collaboration with Google Cloud to develop their access. They are also working with tech companies to develop their biometric ID, chatbots, e-wallets, and more.
The Super App, boasting over ten million monthly active users in the second quarter of 2022, is a prime example of customer focused business, enhancing their experience through convenience and rewards for loyalty.
At this year’s World Aviation Festival, AirAsia’s Keynote will discuss the question, “How is the AirAsia ecosystem, including AirAsia Money and the airasia Super App creating more value and opportunity for customers than ever?”
Airports must include parking in their development plans as the aviation sector experiences ongoing growth. One of the most significant non-aeronautical assets of airports remains to be parking, although the emergence of new technology and travellers’ choice of multimodal transportation in many locations continue to challenge the industry.
In this context, parking is not only a crucial asset for the airport’s bottom line but also a strategic tool to attract and retain passengers. As such, airports are increasingly focusing on this area to optimise the value of their assets and develop a sustainable business model. It is indeed important for airports to diversify their revenue streams to reduce the reliance on aeronautical revenues and alleviate airport congestion.
2. What are the main challenges facing the airport parking industry?
The main challenges that the airport parking industry is still facing include the fact that media portrayal of airport parking is almost always negative. Unfortunately, coverage of the industry is usually driven by events such as companies failing or negligent team members.
This makes it hard to communicate the benefits of off-airport. This perception must be changed.
The reality is that long-stay parking, as an alternative to “Kiss & Fly” drop-offs from family or friends, has a substantial role to play in lowering carbon emissions by minimising car trips to and from airports.
Long-term parking is also a much less expensive alternative to “Kiss & Fly” drop-offs and can be very convenient for families who wish to avoid driving long distances.
If more people could be convinced to park their cars at the airport, it would help relieve traffic congestion and pollution in city centres, as well as reducing parking charges in some locations.
Another major issue is making sure that the customer feels confident while leaving the car during their travels. If a customer is not confident in the security of their vehicle, they will be less likely to use long-term parking.
The most important issues for customers are how safe the car will be and whether it will be returned in the same condition. To provide customers with confidence, many parking lots have 24-hour security, which ensures that their vehicle is always secure. But the idea of parking on-site at the airport is still perceived as more convenient and less stressful. A recent survey of travellers found that they still prefer to park on-site at airports, but will consider off-site parking if the price is right.
3. Off-airport parking
While on-airport parking is the most convenient option for travellers, it can also be the most expensive. Off-airport parking options are often more affordable and can help relieve some of the pressure on airports during peak travel times.
Since comparing platforms is not limited to off-site airport parking but can be used for services in general, the opportunities for expansion are endless, especially for airlines and travel agencies. If a business wants to expand into new markets, it can just create a profile on our website and share its own unique offerings with travellers.
4. How Parkos approaches it
At the busiest airports, high-quality off-airport shuttle and valet services are
well-established, provide convenience for travellers, and are more affordable. People who prefer not to travel through congested and frequently confusing airport roads prefer off-site options.
According to Parkos, the best way for airports to continue profiting from parking without the hassle of setting up a reservation management system is to focus on expanding their reach. Airports will be able to offer parking to a larger group of travelers if they are available on comparison platforms. In this way, the capacity will be monitored constantly and the pricing will be set according to demand and capacity.
We “Parkos” also provides airport managers with real-time data regarding their revenue, user numbers, and parking space availability. This information can help them decide whether or not to expand their parking structure and make important investment decisions accordingly.
5. How will technology help make airport parking more efficient in the future?
How can airports solve these problems? New parking technologies are helping airports address some of these issues. With a growing number of travellers each year, Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport for example, has been struggling to keep up with the demand for drop-off points close to the terminal. In an effort to improve the situation, Stanley Robotics recently introduced autonomous parking robots at the airport.
The robots, which are about the size of a small car, will park in designated spots and then shuttle passengers to and from the terminal. This will free up space near the terminal for other vehicles and should help reduce congestion.
6. The green future of Airport parking
Airport parking is a major source of emissions. In order to reduce its environmental impact, many airports are turning to green solutions such as electric vehicle charging stations and solar panels.
Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, and as a result, more and more airports are installing charging stations. This is the opportunity for off-airport parking to convert to electric shuttles to reduce carbon emission as well.
Solar panels are another way that airports are reducing their emissions. By harnessing the power of the sun, solar panels can provide a clean and renewable source of energy.
In conclusion, airport parking is an important aspect of the travel industry that will continue to grow and change. Many of the changes will be driven by new technology and sustainability. The key to success, as in any industry, will be the ability to adapt. The travel industry is constantly changing, and airport parking is a big part of the travelling experience. Airport managers must take advantage of new technologies to improve their businesses and serve their customers better by looking at comparing platforms as allies, in the pursuit of achieving a greater level of satisfaction in their parking experiences.
On Monday 26th September, easyJet revealed their new “roadmap to net zero” emissions by 2050.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet said:
“Challenging the status quo is in easyJet’s DNA. From making flying affordable for everyone over 25 years ago, to leading the sector on decarbonisation.
Today, we’re the first airline to outline an ambitious roadmap in which zero carbon emission technology plays a key role to take us to net-zero emissions by 2050 and ultimately to zero carbon emission flying across our entire fleet.
Decarbonising aviation is a major undertaking for which the whole sector is coming together. But we also require the support from UK and European governments to help us achieve net zero and we have clearly outlined the actions needed from them.”
Responding to the customer
A nationwide easyJet study revealed 82 per cent of respondents believed zero carbon emission flying is the best option to decarbonise aviation. It further revealed that 76 per cent thought companies needed to urgently demonstrate how they are operating more sustainably and explain how they will achieve net zero.
A shift in focus
easyJet’s strategy diverts away from carbon offsetting, towards carbon removal. In fact, the airline will be phasing out its carbon offset scheme by the end of 2023. This means the airline will no longer pay for offsets as standard. The new focus on carbon removal will be achieved through three main processes: the use of hydrogen aircraft, the adoption of more efficient aircrafts, and Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs).
The measures are set to reduce easyJet’s carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by 78 per cent by 2050 (from 2019 measures).
easyJet has set their sights on the use of hydrogen aircrafts, positioning these as the long-term solution to de-carbonising the industry. This will enable the airline to fly on zero carbon emission hydrogen-powered aircraft removing the need to rely on nature-based offsetting. Partnerships will play a large role in the development of these hydrogen aircrafts. So far, easyJet’s partnerships have included working with major players including plane maker Airbus, engine maker Rolls-Royce, GKN Aerospace, and others.
For the short term, easyJet has been investing in more efficient aircrafts. These include 168 Airbus NEO aircraft. These utilise a blend of traditional fuels and SAFs, easyJet’s partnership with Q8Aviation will ensure the airline can meet the blending mandates proposed by the UK and EU.
Q8Aviation will continue to supply easyJet’s SAF. This is produced by 100 per cent renewable and sustainable waste and residue raw materials including used cooking oil and animal fat waste.
Will this make flights more expensive?
The budget airline has stressed that rather than increasing the cost of tickets, as many fear, the transition will help to keep fares affordable. CEO Johan Lundgren stated:
“The cost of carbon will be so expensive […] if you don’t transition to zero emission technologies, I think that the taxes on carbon will only go one way. I think it is completely in line with being an efficient low-cost airline that we are setting out to lead.”
Currently, SAFs which play a large role in easyJet’s carbon cutting plans, cost up to four times as much as traditional aviation fuels. With fuel comprising approximately 20-30% of airline costs, the current relative expense of SAFs is off-putting for airlines. However, as discussed in a recent article on Developing a Sustainable Air Hub in Singapore, SAFs are set to play a huge role in hitting sustainability targets.
Sustainability is a huge focus of this year’s World Aviation Festival. easyJet will be speaking on the 6th October answering “How easyJet are developing zero emission technology partnerships to make hydrogen flying a reality.”
Appealing To The New Generation of Passengers Through Omnichannel Retail
By 2025, Gen-Y and Gen-Z will make up over 50 per cent of all passengers. To appeal to these new generations of travellers, airports must adopt a digitised approach through omnichannel retail.
Lately, there has been an increase in the proportion of less affluent Gen-Y and Gen-Z travellers. Paired with this has been a lower demand for traditional airport retail products. Airports must adapt, adjusting the goods they offer and the ways they promote them to the younger generations. Gen-Z, and to a lesser extent Gen-Y, have grown up with online shopping and all the benefits this offers. To attract the convenience-centred, newer, digital generations airports must turn towards an omnichannel airport retail strategy.
What is an omnichannel retail strategy?
Omnichannel: “A method of combining the advantages of in-store shopping with the convenience of online to deliver a superior customer experience. In this model, customers can interact simultaneously with multiple sales and media channels, moving between showroom and website in one seamless journey.”
What can an omnichannel retail strategy look like at airport?
Airport retailers are transitioning towards a digitised experience for their passengers. This is occurring in a multitude of ways, the examples below are only some of the airlines and airports that now offer these systems.
A ‘click & collect’ points system. Seamlessly blending the online and physical shopping experience, 52 per cent of surveyed respondents said this would increase their likelihood of shopping in airports. The ‘Reserve and Collect’ shopping system at Heathrow offers passengers the opportunity to earn bonus Heathrow Rewards points when using this system. Heathrow is only one of the airports tapping into customer demands for ‘click & collect’ points systems.
The ability to research and pre-order goods to collect these at the airports. 46 per cent of those surveyed said online pre-ordering would increase their likelihood of shopping in airports. This service is offered at World Duty Free in Gatwick airport amongst others.
The option to interact with the product instore but deliver the goods directly to a passenger’s home. This would appeal to the 27 per cent of respondents who stated home delivery of goods would increase the likelihood of airport shopping. Some airlines offering this service are Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Finnair, Hong Kong Airlines, KLM, Malaysia Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and more.
QR codes linking to further information relating to an in-store product, Instagram accounts promoting it, and other medias to digitise their customers’ experience and appeal to the younger generations. At the Omnichannel Strategy of the Year – Singapore Award winner iShopChangi, customers can browse online for the latest offers and interact with beauty ambassadors whilst in-store getting personalised advice, samples, and offers.
AR and VR tech to virtually engage with products and share these on social media. iGA Instanbul Airport has AR tech enabling passengers to see objects virtually in an “interactive real-world environment.” Through this, customers can find out about campaign offers and move between stores.
Providing an omnichannel retail experience blending online and instore benefits is key to drawing Gen-Y and Gen-Z consumers into the world of airport retail.
For more on digital consumer trends read Marisa Garcia’s article here.
The year’s World Aviation Festival focuses on how to digitise retail and the importance of omnichannel retailing. One panel discussion will be asking “How can we achieve this vision of omnichannel modern retailing?”
The IAP “Developing a Sustainable Air Hub in Singapore” Blueprint
This September, the International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Sustainable Air Hub submitted their report “Developing a Sustainable Air Hub in Singapore” to the Minister for Transport and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations.
The report is a blueprint for a decarbonisation roadmap for Singapore’s air hub with medium-term (2030) and longer-term (2050) targets as well as the methods required to achieve them.
The IAP, set up by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), was launched on 14th February 2022. The panel was created to help support the development of the Singapore Sustainable Air Hub Blueprint. Consisting of twenty international industry, tech, and knowledge leaders discussing “how international aviation can be made more sustainable and accessible for all, and how Singapore can contribute to this international effort.”
Who is involved?
Chaired by Professor Chong Tow Chong, the panel includes members from Airbus, The Boeing Company, Changi Airport Group, Singapore Airlines, Shell, IATA and others. The sessions involved over 120 representatives from forty local and international partners focusing on three key aviation areas: airport, airline, and air traffic management.
The 15 recommendations from the IAP
Reduce air-conditioning carbon footprint
Deploy solar power on airfield
Increase use of renewable electricity
Make all airside vehicles run on clean energy
Set up waste-to-energy facility at Changi Airport
Optimise airport operations
Implement roadmap to secure long-term supply of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
Establish “buyer’s club” of sustainable aviation fuel to create demand
Introduce offtake mechanism for sustainable aviation fuel
Build carbon offset market in aviation sector
Ensure Singapore is early an adopter of aircraft technology
Air traffic management
Implement advanced demand-capacity balancing
Make airplane descend continuously
Optimise efficiency during all phases of flight
Implement free route airspace
A closer look
Recommendation 1, “Reduce air-conditioning carbon footprint.” Changi Airport’s air-conditioning system makes up 60 per cent of the total energy used by its terminals. This positions it as a key area to address. Acknowledging the necessity of aircon for passenger experience, the report suggested working with stakeholders to improve the system’s energy efficiency through technology.
Recommendation 4, “Make all airside vehicles run on clean energy.” Changi Airport has already electrified around 10 per cent of their 2,000-3,000 strong airside vehicle fleet. The report suggest turning to stakeholders to facilitate the transition of the fleet to 100 per cent clean energy. The three methods of achieving this are outlined: electrification, conversion to hydrogen-powered vehicles, and the use of biofuels.
Recommendation 7, “Implement roadmap to secure long-term supply of sustainable aviation fuel.” SAF is the main focus of the airline recommendations. The IAP concluded Changi Airports needs to develop a long-term secured supply in Singapore and the region so more airlines can adopt these fuels. Currently, SAF is three to five times more expensive than conventional jet fuel and less than 0.1 per cent of jet fuel used by commercial airlines is SAF right now. However, Singapore is predicted to have the world’s largest SAF production capacity when Neste’s facility is Tuas is completed in 2023. The increased supply and demand of SAF is central to the IAP vision of a more sustainable future within the aviation industry.
The panel said decarbonising the aviation sector cannot be achieved by any single country or organisation on its own. However, Singapore is an international business, aviation, and aerospace hub and as such is well-positioned to help lead the way in achieving sustainability targets.
Sustainability is a key theme at this year’s World Aviation Festival with the topic being discussed in depth. Some of the organisations involved in the IAP will also be speaking this year including IATA who will discuss “How can we utilise next generation technology, innovation, and new types of fuel to get closer to achieving real scalable solutions for clean air travel?” and “”What are the various strategic and technological pathways to reach the aviation industry goal of net zero 2050?”
The inaugural Dubai Metaverse Assembly takes place on 28th and 29th September 2022. Expecting to bring together over 300 regional and international experts, the potential applications of the metaverse will be explored. The event will delve into the potential uses of the metaverse on logistics, retail, education, healthcare, and aviation.
What is the metaverse?
Everybody is talking about the metaverse. It is predicted to be a huge area of growth in the travel industry with the metaverse market in travel and tourism expecting to increase by $188.24 billion from 2021 to 2026. But what exactly is the metaverse and how is it already being used within aviation?
In short, the metaverse is “used to describe a combination of the virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality worlds accessed through a browser or headset, which allows people to have real time interactions and experiences across distance.” It is expected to connect humans around the world on an unprecedented scale.
How is it being used in aviation?
The metaverse itself is in its infancy. However, even at this early stage the aviation industry has begun to incorporate it in various ways:
Qatar Airways launched QVerse. QVerse, a virtual reality experience, enables users to virtually tour the Premium Check-in area at Hamad International Airport as well as virtually explore the cabin interior. They are the first global airline to introduce a MetaHuman cabin crew who offers interactive customer experience.
Emirates has revealed plans to invest $10 million into building “signature brand experiences” in the metaverse.
London Heathrow Airport partnered with Chanel and their “beauty spaceship,” where passengers could try on their products virtually.
Vueling, a Spanish low-cost carrier plans to offer customers the opportunity to visualise their travels. Passengers will also be able to track carbon emissions and book “carbon positive” transportation through the metaverse.
Etihad and Emirates are bringing virtual reality to the physical airport, letting lounge visitor interact entertain themselves with VR headsets before their flights.
British Airways has introduced VR as part of its in-flight entertainment in first-class.
NFTs as currency
Purchases made in the metaverse can translate through to the real world. This facilitates one of the interesting ways aviation is getting involved with the metaverse – Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).
NFTs “use cryptocurrencies’ blockchains to sell original versions of digital artefacts.” Within the aviation industry, these are being used as a form of currency.
Air Europa partnered with block-chain distribution company TravelX to release the world’s first NFT flight ticket series known as NFTickets. The first ticket sold at auction went for $1 million.
Other airports and airlines including Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines are already looking at the metaverse.
Although the metaverse is still a work in progress, aviation has already begun to integrate it into industry in a range of creative, exciting ways which we will only be seeing more of in the future.
At this year’s World Aviation Festival a presentation by Tim McMullen from Teleperformance will discuss “The metaverse air experience” and a panel will discuss “what does the future of loyalty hold when integrating new opportunities in tech such as crypto, NFTs, and the metaverse?”
Article by Jess Brownlow
For more content relating to the metaverse take a look at Eric Leopold’s article here
In-Flight Connectivity. A Lucrative, Loyalty Building Opportunity
The In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) market is set to double in the coming decade.
As people have become reliant on being connected at all times, IFC represents a huge opportunity for airlines.
IFC represents a vast opportunity for ancillary revenues amongst airlines. In 2019, the London School of Economics predicted that Wi-Fi in the cabin would generate $30 billion in additional revenue for airlines by 2035.
More and more airlines are offering passengers free access to their Wi-Fi with imposed limitations. For example, a time limit after which access to the Wi-Fi must be paid for or the ability to stream videos for a price.
One airline making a concerted effort to capitalise on these IFC ancillary revenues is Qatar Airways. With Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup in November, the Doha-based national carrier is preparing for 36 million passengers to go through Hamad International Airport this year.
This month, Qatar Airways announced the expansion of their partnership with Inmarsat. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, said:
“as the 2022 FIFA World Cup approaches, Inmarsat is the perfect partner we need to ensure Qatar Airways can offer unrivalled inflight connectivity to each and every passenger.”
The Super Wi-Fi enabled by Inmarsat’s GX Aviation will enable passengers to stay up to date with match scores and livestream games during the flight, for a price.
IFC also provides airlines with an opportunity to generate loyalty. Currently, passenger take-up rates of IFC remain low due to concerns with reliability of service, fees, availability, and concerns with data safety. This provides a huge opportunity for brand differentiation between airlines, and with it, loyalty.
The ability to establish loyalty with business customers through a strong, stable connection to the internet is self-evident. However, IFC also provides a unique opportunity for airlines to connect with Gen-Z.
In a report focused on a group of mostly younger travellers, 12% of those who were uncommitted to any airline loyalty programme said they would be willing to switch their allegiance in favour of high-quality inflight Wi-Fi. As a major question in the industry at the moment, this year’s World Aviation Festival will be exploring how to establish loyalty with the emerging generations.
At this year’s World Aviation Festival a panel will also be discussing “How can a digital-retail mindset help airlines to unlock the true commercial potential of inflight connectivity?”
What is Holding Young People Back From Joining the Aviation Industry?
The industry is currently experiencing crippling staff shortages. Now more than ever, the need to attract young, new talent is evident. However, young people are no longer flocking for jobs in the industry. Why?
Disruption with flights, airports, and baggage have dominated newspaper headlines lately. One factor underpinning all of this is staff shortages.
As demand for flights returns and then some with revenge travel, the aviation industry is being held back by crippling labour shortages. During the pandemic, aviation lost 2.3 million jobs globally. As people returned back to work there has been a lack of willingness for staff to return to the industry. This is for a multitude of reasons including pay, movement to other sectors, changes in personal circumstances and many more.
It is important to understand, the pandemic only accelerated the staffing crisis. These problems pre-dated 2019 with the industry identifying a looming staff shortage before the virus.
Given the current situation, it is crucial that the industry attracts young, new talent.
However, at the moment people are not rushing for jobs in aviation. There are many reasons behind this, but three of the most prominent ones are perceived problems relating to diversity, industry instability, and climate conscience.
In August 2021, the UK Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) investigated the perception that young adults and adolescents have of the aviation industry. This aimed to break down the lack of new talent entering the industry.
One predominant theme was a concern about a lack of ethnic, gender, and social diversity in aviation. The UK report found that 41% of those surveyed were negatively influenced by the perceived lack of diversity, this number was even higher among BAME adolescents and young adults.
The industry has a long-standing reputation in Europe and the USA for being male and white dominated. Research suggested that women and people of colour were less likely to apply for jobs within the industry.
The report also revealed a belief that you needed to already have money to pursue a career in aviation, especially a career as a pilot. A respondent in the BAME 16-24 year old group said, “how do people become pilots? You need to be quite wealthy.”
There is also a level of perceived instability within the industry. During the pandemic, the aviation industry was forced to make high levels of redundancies. Having witnessed this, there are fears that young people will now be reluctant to train for or opt into a career in aviation.
With young talent looking towards the future, the aviation industry no longer has the same credibility for stability. The fear of airlines going out of business or more pandemics disrupting working life seem to be making young talent think twice before pursuing a career in the industry.
In a time of growing awareness about the environmental impact of industries, aviation’s carbon footprint is withholding people. The UK DfT research showed that this was a particularly influential factor for women and LGBTQI+ individuals.
Although the industry is working hard to meet sustainability targets and integrating new technologies to reduce environmental damage, the public perception continues to associate aviation with carbon emissions.
Gen Z, currently aged between 25 and 10, have been dubbed “champions of the climate cause.” The current perception of the aviation industry as incompatible with a climate conscience appears to contribute to the problem of attracting young, new talent to the industry.
In order to attract fresh talent from the younger generations into the industry, the perceptions of the industry need to be addressed.
At this year’s World Aviation Festival a Talent & Diversity Summit is being held, with a panel discussing the question, “How can we overcome negative industry perceptions around areas such as industry stability and sustainability to attract young and diverse talent for the future?”
Phygital: How Cognitive Technology Drives Smart Airline Operations
Global air traffic is set to grow to nearly 10 billion travelers per year by 2050, according to the Waypoint 2050 report of the Air Transport Action Group. While the forecast from the current count of nearly four billion travelers is extremely encouraging as we recover from the pandemic, it is a troubling foreshadowing of likely congestion at airports, leading to delay or cancellation of flights. The airline industry should take the opportunity now to augment physical facilities with digital technology to chart a sustainable growth trajectory, in an effort to mitigate growing pains of the future.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies provide tailwinds to flight operations and workflow management by extracting value from unstructured data; detecting motion, anomalies, and patterns in video images; and enabling autonomous capabilities. While conversational assistance in natural language is a widely adopted AI use case in travel and hospitality, it now embodies technical and business processes.
Cameras equipped with computer vision, IoT sensors, biometrics technology, and self-service applications provide a rich repository of visual, textual, and contextual data. These datasets provide insights into passenger demographics, behavior, intent, and purchase patterns, as well as diverse operational activities. Airlines can now utilize cloud-hosted, AI-driven analytical solutions that leverage data for seamless convergence of physical and digital systems. A converged ecosystem can improve landside and airside operations, covering both above and below the wing services, as well as ancillary and ground support services.
Automates landside operations
Since June 2018, IATA Resolution 753 has mandated tracking of each baggage item at four critical points during the customer journey: (1) passenger handover to airline, (2) loading to the aircraft, (3) delivery to the transfer area, and (4) return to the passenger – and such tracking data should be shared with interline partners as well. AI-powered luggage handling systems automate tracking and communication. These systems share real-time baggage status with stakeholders, including passengers. In addition, computer vision-powered smart cameras detect unsafe and prohibited baggage items accurately, which enhances the efficiency of baggage inspection.
Smooth flow of baggage and passengers is the barometer of terminal operations. Face- and iris recognition technology allows airlines and ground handling agents to deploy self-boarding gates. Biometrics enable contactless identification of passengers at airport touchpoints and automate scrutiny at security checkpoints. The immutable identity authentication accelerates passenger screening, passport verification and immigration clearance. In 2018, Miami International Airport implemented facial recognition screening for inbound travelers, which facilitated screening of ~10 passengers per minute, and significantly decongesting overcrowded arrivals facilities.
AI systems with visual sensors are the ‘eyes on the ground’ – monitoring everything from passengers and employees to cargo and concourses. Smart surveillance from the drop-off curb to the aircraft provides critical operational inputs, such as the volume of originating and terminating travelers, and dwell time at screening stations. Real-time data empowers managers to take timely decisions related to addressing curbside requirements, managing passenger throughput, and transforming the experience for passengers as well as airline crew and airport staff. This also enables airport operators to identify chokepoints in the passenger terminal flow and quickly work to remove them.
Tracking of the volume and movement of travelers optimizes queue management and boosts productivity of resources. However, AI-driven efficiency transcends seamless flow during peak travel season. Airlines using self-service solutions and automated kiosks to streamline traveler facilitation services and baggage handling can integrate the data with core service databases and airport management systems to reduce overheads and optimize arrival / departure operations. Further, machine learning models and analytical solutions draw on IoT sensor data and video footage to predict peak footfall and issues during the period, which can be used to enhance self-service processes, contactless mechanisms and in-flight interfaces.
Streamlines airside services
AI platforms enhance the in-flight experience by mitigating technical and logistical issues that disrupt travel. Algorithms synthesize real-time data for clockwork accuracy in coordination of services, such as in-flight catering, ground support equipment handling, handling passengers with disabilities, water supply, and air conditioning. Cloud portals assimilate sensor data spanning diverse parameters – from air quality in the cabin to food supplies, which helps accelerate aircraft turnaround times and improve safety.
Analytical solutions correlate real-time data feeds with aircraft-specific standardized metrics and historical data to detect issues and notify anomalies, including safety issues and delay in ground servicing activities. Further, AI systems augment technical support by providing recommendations that enable maintenance and engineering teams to troubleshoot and diagnose events for managing incidents proactively and refining emergency planning.
Unplanned maintenance causes flight delays and cancellations, which increases overheads, including compensation to travelers. Carriers deploy predictive maintenance applications to significantly reduce equipment failure. Real-time data from IoT-enabled aircraft machinery and onboard health monitoring sensors offer insights into the current technical condition, pinpoint malfunction, and flag potential failure. It empowers maintenance crew and field technicians to undertake physical inspections faster and more effectively. Notably, predictive maintenance improves aircraft reliability. Delta Air Lines, for example, previously partnered with Airbus to implement a predictive fleet maintenance program that reduced maintenance-related flight cancelations from ~ 5,600 to only 55 within an eight-year period.
The scheduling teams within an airline are responsible for seamless operations of thousands of daily domestic and international flights, and should factor in independent, dependent, and mutually exclusive variables for routing and scheduling purposes. For instance, the experience of pilots and flight attendants could be mapped with the flight route and aircraft model – as some airports in Central America require additional airport-specific training qualifications in order for pilots to perform landings. As expected, all crew schedules must adhere to complex labor (union) agreements and government regulations – which vary between workgroups.
This summer has been a very challenging one for airlines everywhere, as they struggle to operate with limited staff of their own and operate at major airports where local staff are also severely limited which cause further costly disruptions to airlines.
AI models optimize crew and schedule management by taking into account operational constraints, regulations, resource availability, maintenance schedules, and costs. Significantly, machine intelligence addresses qualitative issues such as jetlag and fatigue. Smart models help mitigate health risks due to long-haul flights or change in time zones and integrates datapoints into the rostering system. Most important, AI systems optimize aviation fuel consumption for route planning. Maximizing fuel efficiency is a business imperative as well as an ethical practice.
Cognitive systems provide a smart interface between the aircraft, airfield and landside operations. Advanced data science enhances operations, while providing a superior experience for travelers and operators.
Infosys is an associate sponsor at the World Aviation Festival 2022 on 5-6 Oct at RAI Amsterdam, where we will have our booth #12.562 showcasing innovative solutions that solves today’s business problems powering technology and moderate a rich roundtable with top CXOs on ‘‘The convergence of Phygital mechanism to optimize operations above and below the wings, landside and airside. – via usage of camera, sensors , AI etc.’
Flexibility is Here to Stay. Amadeus Responds To Demands For BNPL Options With ‘Uplift’ and ‘Fly Now Pay Later’ Integration
The pandemic demanded an extraordinary level of flexibility from the world. As the travel industry returns to pre-pandemic levels, flexibility looks like it’s here to stay.
As travel accommodates for a higher level of uncertainty, change and cancellation fees have been adapted and buy now pay later (BNPL) options are emerging.
This month, Amadeus has announced partnerships with travel specialists Uplift and Fly Now Pay Later to provide a BNPL option on their Xchange Payment Platform. The platform is utilised by hundreds of airlines and travel companies, giving companies the option to easily add BNPL to their sales channels.
The growing demand for BNPL
As discussed in a previous article, the aviation industry is becoming more receptive to a BNPL system. The concept itself is by no means new in the retail landscape but the application of this within the travel industry is still in its infancy.
Stephen Quinn, Fly Now Pay Later CCO said “BNPL use by Gen Z in the US grew six-fold over a year […] but Baby Boomer adoption increased even more rapidly, from 1% in 2020 to 18% in 2021.”
Tom Botts, CCO at Uplift echoed this sentiment revealing “over two thirds of Uplift users chose BNPL.”
We are currently in the midst of extremely uncertain economic times. The UK is facing a cost of living crisis and the world is experiencing a global energy crisis. These turbulent times are further fuelling demand for BNPL payment options.
Amadeus’ response to demand
Amadeus demonstrated awareness of this growing demand in their recent report. The report showed that 75% of people surveyed were more likely than previously to choose a payment-by-instalment option or BNPL to fund travel.
The BNPL option on the Xchange Payment Platform will give travellers the choice to pay for travel in instalments over six, nine, or twelve months.
Beatrice Bouju, head of partnerships at Amadeus payments described the integration of these systems as a response to demand from travellers, “the message from travellers is clear – they want the choice to pay for the trip in instalments.”
As the aviation industry evolves, flexibility looks set to stay.
The modernisation of payments is a huge part of this year’s World Aviation Festival. One panel will be discussing the question, “How can new opportunities in the space of FinTech and alternative payments address the passenger behaviours and expectations of today?”
Russia and Ukraine have been at war since February and the effects of this conflict have been felt internationally. Within the aviation industry, the rise in fuel prices and the closure of Russian airspace have had tangible effects especially for Finnair.
The effects of the war on Finnair routes
Russia’s airspace has been closed to EU members since February. This closure is a direct result of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict which saw the UK, USA, Canada, and the EU close their own airspaces to Russian aircrafts in solidarity with Ukraine.
Finnair, flag carrier of Finland, has been particularly impacted by the closure of Russia’s airspace. The airline’s strategy has for a long time been centred around a short route connecting Europe and Asia.
Developments in the political situation forced the airline to suspend some services and re-route others. The Finnair COO explained that the effects were “most prominent on flights to Japan and South Korea, where the flight time was up to 40 per cent longer when avoiding Russian airspace.” Consequently, over the summer the suspended services were the ones to Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo Haneda, Sapporo, and Fukuoka.
The airline’s response
The elongated routes “weaken[ed] the profitability of the company” and Finnair has been forced to pivot westward. The airline has opted for “a geographically more balanced network,” increasing their routes to Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and North America.
This shift comes around the same time that Finnair announced their “long-term strategic cooperation” with Qatar Airways. From November the airlines, both part of the Oneworld airline alliance, will cooperate with flights between Doha, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. The flights to Doha will be sold and marketed by both Finnair and Qatar Airways.
Finnair is at the beginning of a period of “significant structural renewal” in response to the struggles of the past few years. On top of rerouting and strengthening their strategic partnerships, the airline has also announced a dramatic cost-reduction plan.
A CEO panel will be discussing how the re-writing of route maps will affect the overall competitive landscape of the industry at this year’s World Aviation Festival. This discussion will occur between Willie Walsh – IATA CEO, Alan Joyce – Qantas CEO, Marjan Rintel – KLM CEO, Annette Mann – Austrian Airlines CEO, and Sir Tim Clark – Emirates President.
Nick Price, DDID/SSI, and the “Control Yourself” Interview
During an interview at Phocuswright Europe, Nick Price described DDID/SSI as “the most consequential technology of a generation.” The full interview between Nick Price and Mitra Sorrells can be watched here. So how exactly did Price justify his selection of DDID/SSI as the generation’s “most consequential technology.”
Nick Price is the chair of the Hospitality & Travel Special Interest Group at the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF).
What does DDID/SSI mean?
Digital identity (DID) – “A set of validated digital attributes and credentials for the digital world, similar to a person’s identity for the real word.”
Decentralised Digital Identity (DDID) – “An open-standards based identity framework that uses digital identifiers and verifiable credentials that are self-owned, independent, and enable trusted data exchange.”
Self-sovereign identity (SSI) – aka. Decentralised Digital Identity, “Digital identities that are managed in a decentralized manner. This technology allows users to self-manage their digital identities without depending on third-party providers to store and centrally manage the data.”
DID is already globally known as one of the most significant technology trends. DDID/SSI is set to revolutionise the travel industry landscape ultimately providing individuals with a more seamless experience.
How consequential is DDID/SSI?
In the interview Price positioned DDID/SSI to be “equally profound” as these previous three core-technology developments:
TCP/IP – The Internet Protocol. The networking protocol that allowed two computers to communicate.
HTTP – The Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The foundation of the World Wide Web which loads web pages using hypertext links. This enabled browsers and e-commerce.
GSM – Global System for Mobile Communication. The digital mobile network that facilitated mobile telecommunication on mass.
DDID/SSI – Decentralised Digital Identity/Self-Sovereign Identity. Price explained this simply as the technology that allows “individuals, businesses, or even things to say, ‘this is me, this is who I am, and this is what I want’ and to do this ”
What significance does DDID/SSI have for the aviation industry?
In the interview, Price explained that DDID/SSI will eradicate the black box between the customer and the business. Currently, when a customer steps onto a plane the airline does not know them. They don’t understand their requirements, history, or desires.
DDID/SSI will enable the individual to “express themselves digitally through commerce.” Crucially, DDID/SSI will enable this through a reliable and secure interaction, cutting out the need for a third-party intermediary.
The technology will enable customers to communicate their needs directly to a provider and do this across instantly across providers as opposed to expressing needs at each step of the journey.
Crucially, only the necessary information will be shared. For example, if a provider needed to know if the individual was an adult, instead of sharing the specific age of the person it would only verify that they are over 18 years old.
What could a world utilising DDID/SSI look like?
The technology offers a new direct channel to customers and has the potential to be particularly influential within the travel industry. In the interview, Price described six use cases that this technology could bring to the travel industry. The first three of these he described as having the most potential:
Discount entitlement – Engage in commercial interaction, providing quality information about entitlements so you receive back specific offers. Expressing exactly what you want.
Sharing profile elements – Rich, accurate, singular, up to date customer profile. The ability to share elements of this profile as opposed to a complete profile.
Verified stay – Accumulation of verified travel history into a wallet. This can prove travel history without giving away any specifics.
Where are we up to with DDID/SSI?
Europeans will soon be able to request a digital ID that will be provided through DDID/SSI to create a digital wallet. This will be available for up to 450 million travellers in Europe in the next few years. Furthermore, DDIS/SSI are not limited to Europe, this technology is being developed internationally in Singapore, Japan, North America, Europe, and more. Price predicts a rapid take-up of this technology in the coming decade.
The large scale roll out of this technology is imminent. It is new, exciting, and set to revolutionise the travel industry’s landscape. It will certainly be influential and when asked if it can be profitable, Price’s simple answer was “Yes it can.”