Airline operations KPIs have been around for quite a while. Actually, I guess there’s no airline in the world that doesn’t track and monitor their on-time performance, regularity, or seat load factor.

Especially during the last years, airlines have started to set up additional airline operations KPIs, allowing them to track processes more in detail and monitor their goals. We’ve been working with many airlines in this field and possess an operations KPI catalog of roughly 80 – 100 different KPIs. That’s a lot. And actually, I don’t know of any airline that is using all of them. Most of the airlines are concentrating on a set of 5 – 20 operations KPIs — at least when we are talking about real-time tracking.

10,000 Airline Operations KPIs — Are You Serious?

Now, if you compare the number in the headline of this post and the one most of the airlines are tracking, I’m pretty sure you can identify a discrepancy of ~9,990 KPIs. Furthermore, I’m convinced that you ask yourself three questions:

  1. Where the heck shall those thousands of airline operations KPIs come from?
  2. How the heck shall I monitor thousands of airline operations KPIs at the same time?
  3. Is this guy serious or kidding me?

Let’s start with the last question first: I’m not kidding you — on the contrary, this is dead-serious. I genuinely believe that it is time to enter a new level when it comes to airline operations KPIs and leave well-trodden paths behind.

Adapting Advanced Analytics & Social Media Concepts to Airline Operations KPIs

So, here’s the concept behind: I’m not suggesting to set up 9,990 completely new airline operations KPIs (actually that would be nonsense and moreover impossible). But what I’m suggesting is to combine traditional KPIs with a) advanced analytics approaches and b) social media concepts.

Let’s first talk about the analytical approach. Instead of calculating one single on-time performance, I’d advise calculating hundreds of different, more specific OTPs. For example:

  • An OTP for every sub fleet you’re operating
  • An OTP for every airport you’re operating
  • A comparison of your OTP with yesterday’s OTP
  • A comparison of your current OTP with the average of the week
  • A comparison of your current OTP with last hour
  • A comparison of your current OTP with the average of the month
  • A comparison of your OTP with each day of the year that had a similar number of passengers
  • A comparison of your current OTP with the last 2, 3, 4, … same days of the previous weeks
  • A comparison of your current OTP with your competitors
  • And so on and so forth — this list is endless

By doing so, you quickly end up with hundreds of different OTPs. And of course, you should repeat this exercise with all your other airline operations KPIs: Regularity, number of passengers, delay minutes, delay reasons, etc. Thereby, you will reach a four-digit KPI amount without problems.

Of course, an analytical approach means that you have a technology component that 1) allows you to define these KPIs easily and 2) that continually calculates each of the thousand KPIs — for example, every three minutes.

As a result, you create an enormous amount of airline operations KPIs every three minutes. (Of course, it doesn’t matter if you really set up 10,000 KPIs or only 3,000).

But what to do with all these KPIs? How to track all those airline operations KPIs?

And here’s where the second aspect comes in: Social media concepts! 

1 – Assessing the relevance

Think of Facebook, for example. Millions of posts are generated every second. An even if you’re network consists of a few hundred contacts only; there’s still enough content to flood you with. So what is Facebook doing? Facebook is using smart algorithms to assess which content is most relevant to you. 

That’s precisely what we have to do with the thousands of airline operations KPIs: Assessing the relevance of each KPI’s value. That means you need thresholds, target, or comparison values in order to assess each KPI value and attach relevance to it. And of course, this all has to happen automatically — on the fly.

2 – Get rid of your traditional KPI dashboards

Dashboards are perfect for monitoring a fixed set of high-level KPIs. But as soon as your starting to monitor a whole bunch of airline operations KPIs, this concept comes to an end. Again, take a look at social networks, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They are using feed-based approaches: A (endless) list of content posts you can scroll through. Combined with the above, you can show the KPI with the most important relevance on top of a feed.

3 – Use push-notifications

I’ve already published a few articles about the power of push notifications. In this context, this approach unleashes even more impact. Based on the automated assessment of step one, you should also send push messages to your stakeholder’s devices when a operations KPI shows an extreme value. 

Combining Airline Operations KPIs And Analytical Insights — A New Approach To Track KPIs

With the approach described above, we are combining the power of airline operations KPIs with analytical insights. However, the massive advantage of this approach compared to traditional analytics is that you don’t have to ask questions. Through the continuous calculation of thousands of KPIs, you are provided with insights/answers to questions you haven’t been asking yet.

What do you think?

Always happy to get your feedback — just hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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Benjamin is a content-maniac, music-lover, aviation-enthusiast, and CEO of Information Design (in this order). His daily business revolves around pioneering solutions to change the way airlines, airports, and aviators use information. His visions are based on expertise gained in more than 15 years in the industry and working with renowned airlines + airports worldwide.

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