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10 Technology Tips For Your Airline You Will Be Glad You Started Once Lockdown is Over

After almost two months of lockdown, you've probably read that statement a dozen times "The world after COVID-19 won't be the same," and the world we knew is perhaps never going to return.

Of course, no one knows how exactly the post-COVID world will be. However, when looking at the airline business, there are several forecasts we can already consider as given facts:

  1. There won’t be a back to normal from one day to the next. In other words, there won’t be a black and white but a long period of grey. During this period —probably many months or even years— airlines are going to face a complex operations. Complex in terms of passenger health measures but also in terms of operated routes, airports, etc.
  2. Potentially we have to cope with a second, third, or even multiple waves. Subsequently, airlines probably again face broad or partial lockdowns of airports, countries, or their entire operations.
  3. Regardless of the scenario, everybody agrees on the fact that operated routes will be limited for a considerable time. That will result in higher prices. Nonetheless, airlines’ profits will be negative or low for a long time. Accordingly, besides stimulating demand, cost-cutting, as well as process efficiency measures, will be a top priority for airlines. 

Based on the above facts, we’ve put together ten technology tips that’ll help you and your airline prepare the best possible way to tackle the upcoming challenge.

Define The Perfect Set Of KPIs That Lets You Control And Adapt To Each Possible Situation

KPIs will play a vital role in the upcoming months. Probably even more critical than in the years before. They provide a fact-based source of information, especially in situations that are driven by complexity and volatility.

However, as mentioned in one of my latest blog posts, the KPIs in post-COVID time will be different. Therefore, you should start doing two things. First, define and set up the KPIs that are required in each possible situation. Second, establish a technological framework to adapt your KPIs to situative needs quickly.

Start Thinking About New Ways To Provide Information To All Relevant Stakeholders

Airline Operations are a time-critical process. Accordingly, all stakeholders need real-time access to information (KPIs, NOTAMs, schedule changes, news, social media, etc.).

The existing methods and approaches to distribute this specific information quickly reached their limits in home-office, decentral working, etc.

However, since there’s a considerable likelihood of another lockdown, you should start thinking about new measures to distribute operations-relevant information. Personally, I genuinely believe that we will see the rise of new (airline internal) apps that gather all relevant information and provide it as an update-feed (similar to Facebook) to employees.

Explore New Ways Of Contextual Communication

Similar to providing information, it is time to think about new means of contextual communication and discussions. The idea mentioned above of airline-internal apps can also enable employees to start more contextual communication and discussions. Especially in dynamic situations, contextual communication will be a crucial differentiator.

Make Practical Use Of Advanced Analytics

Money will be a rare good, especially when it comes to IT projects. That’s why I believe that (unfortunately) many airlines won’t continue to innovate when it comes to the area of airline operations technology. Especially projects focusing on AI, machine learning, etc., are or will be set on hold for the moment.

Nonetheless, since efficiency will play a dominant role, setting up and deploying practical advanced analytics measures will be vital. If you haven’t, you should think about things like single-source data for analytics and data warehousing. On top of that, companies should utilize tools like Tableau or PoweBI if this isn’t the case already.

Let’s move on to the next technology tip for your airline!

Start Smart Digital Projects

In fact, this is not the time to start the big-bang projects. But I’m convinced that there are many smaller yet innovative digital projects to focus on.

During the following months, every slight improvement counts. So why not digitize your fueling process, improve EFB functions, or focus on the communication as mentioned above and information topics.

Sit together with your team and think about which small steps are possible right now, which are practicable and essential.

Focus On Master Data

Mr. Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, mentioned a crucial aspect in one of his recent interviews. He highlighted that restarting the operations requires enormous efforts. For him, restarting a route is similar to the initial setup of that route. That means airports have to be checked, processes and procedures have to be reviewed, etc. 

To support this process in the best possible way, accurate master data is inevitable. That master data must contain all airport-relevant data, such as equipment, operational aspects, runways, landing minima, and hundreds of additional attributes. 

Of course, this can’t be set up overnight. But coming back to my initial statement that we probably face multiple lockdowns, this is definitely the right time to start with that initiative.

Introduce Real-Time KPIs

With its dynamic development, the Corona pandemic once again underpinned the importance of real-time information and KPIs. From my point of view, the only way to —at least— monitor and manage such a situation.

Daily or weekly reports are simply not sufficient, neither in normal operations nor in such exceptional circumstances. Still, a vast proportion of airlines didn’t set up real-time operations KPIs. In case your airline is one of them, this tip is for you.

Deploy Mobile Solutions

The Coronacrisis accelerates some developments. Home office and decentralized working are most likely the most prominent examples. Although most of us will be happy once we can return to the office, the home office will play a more critical role in the future.

Accordingly, mobile solutions that give access to relevant information and functions regardless of the employee’s location will be essential in the future. I wrote many blog posts about the importance of mobile KPI solutions. So why not start with that now?

Start Joint Projects

#WeAreInThisTogehter is a trending hashtag at the moment. I think this hashtag perfectly describes the feeling of many people. People work at airlines, at airports but also at other aviation-related companies. 

In recent years I’ve witnessed many projects that haven’t been realized due to a lack of cooperation between airlines, airports, ATC, and other providers.

Since we are all in this together, I think this is the time to stand together and jointly work on projects. Airlines, along with other airlines, airlines together with airports, are supported by suppliers who act as partners.

Stay Positive And Combine It With Practicability And Humility

Finally, the best tip I have for you. Neither related to technology nor aviation. Call it soft factors, but I genuinely believe that the only way we get through this disaster is to stay positive and combine it with practicability — and most importantly, although always underrated, humility!

10 Technology Tips For Your Airline — What’s Your Opinion?

What’s your opinion? Do you agree with the above tips? Do you have additional technology tips you’re applying at your airline? Let me know your thoughts on this topic. Always happy to receive your feedback and opinions. Just hit me up on Twitter or get in touch on LinkedIn.

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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