• Wed. Oct 5th, 2022

AI is influencing the future of work in the airline industry

ByKimberly A. Brochu

Sep 16, 2022

Skift grip

Airlines aiming to optimize their total revenue need smart solutions. While artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms promise better predictive capabilities, these systems can only truly shine when paired with the flexibility and human touch of a data analyst.

FLYERS

Commercial airlines and other travel and transportation leaders face significant challenges in managing pricing, demand and logistics in today’s volatile environment. Travel disruptions this summer have laid bare the potential for intermittent hiccups in post-pandemic operations to have drastic effects on customer satisfaction and revenue opportunities.

With travelers’ patience running out, airlines need to bolster their people, processes and technologies. By integrating artificial intelligence (AI) solutions into their organizations’ processes, airlines can leverage their data, analysts and revenue management opportunities to take advantage of new business fundamentals in this changing environment. .

“Artificial intelligence does not replace the work of the airline data analyst,” said Alex Mans, founder and CEO of FLYR Labs, a technology company that drives business optimization for airlines. “But it changes their role and hopefully unlocks their potential to generate revenue and improve operational efficiency.”

Intelligence on demand

Airline data can be difficult to analyze, but artificial intelligence makes it easier. It’s impossible for humans to manually process all of the information airlines collect from digital sources, but deep learning neural networks can provide effective predictions that give analysts the confidence to make better decisions. .

“Historically, the main type of forecasting has been linear regression-based models, where analysts look at very concentrated year-over-year patterns,” Mans said. “The problem is that there simply isn’t enough data from a single flight at any given time to generate accurate forecasts in a volatile environment. The old systems are really bad at determining whether reserving a seat on a given flight has a significant impact on the outcome.

To power deep learning algorithms, airlines feed neural networks large amounts of historical data – such as bookings, searches, events, promotions and competitive pricing – resulting in forecasts that hold true. better informed analysts on revenue and load factor performance going forward.

“They can compare the evolution of actual performance against the forecast data as the start date approaches,” said Mans. “The real value comes when, with a platform like ours, analysts come to trust the forecast and can start using it to inform strategic decisions instead of seeing it as a vague guideline.”

Unleash the full potential of analysts

According to Mans, artificial intelligence should be seen as an airline data analyst’s smart sidekick – it does not replace the analyst’s job, but rather enhances the analyst’s ability to make operational decisions. coordinates in areas where automation alone is insufficient.

“In the past, analysts didn’t have precise forecasts, so most of their decisions were based on instinct,” Mans said. “On top of that, they didn’t have good user interfaces to consume that data. We generate much better forecasts, enable smarter workflows, and provide a dedicated user interface where analysts can easily access and filter data, then use the resulting insights. With better load and revenue forecasts at any level of granularity on the network, they can do amazing things. »

For example, if an analyst sees a group of flights in the coming months with an expected load factor of 99%, they can alert their planning colleagues and suggest increasing capacity. In most airlines, where functions within organizations are typically siled, this type of cross-functional collaboration between business teams is not common.

“All it takes to start breaking down those silos is for other teams to have access to the same information that the revenue management team has access to,” Mans said. “At the end of the day, different departments are trying to achieve the same results: maximizing revenue and containing costs.”

In addition to playing the role of guardian of this information, the role of the analyst will evolve to support a variety of critical functions across the organization.

“On the one hand, they can look into corners that the data itself can’t see,” Mans said. “The analyst may know that a schedule change is imminent, but unless that information is passed to our system, we are not aware of it. Artificial intelligence does not know everything. Another thing to Note is that maximizing maximum revenue is not always the goal.An airline entering a new market may want to follow a non-optimal revenue strategy focused on market control or market share, so the analyst is needed to fine-tune this strategy Or ​​consider promotions – every airline runs tons of promotions throughout the year whether they are related to their credit card program, certain destinations or to other variables that require the analyst to actively work with our platform and its marketing team to achieve the best results.

Take advantage of new business fundamentals

For airlines to weather the storm of unprecedented industry disruption today, dynamic pricing powered by deep learning algorithms is essential. FLYR was designed to provide a single platform that helps airlines manage data, break down data silos with consistently accurate forecasts accessible to everyone in the organization, and provide total revenue management for all of their products.

“Our job is to help airlines effectively price everything they want to sell, including ancillary items such as seat selection, extra baggage, priority boarding and other upsells,” Mans said. “FLYR’s operating system provides a vertically integrated SaaS platform for data management, forecasting, pricing, automation, business intelligence and reporting – which includes simulation and scenario evaluation – while removing the constraints of e-commerce and fulfillment through acquisitions such as Newshore airlines can get things done faster and more efficiently. That’s what we’re building as a business, and it is the future of work within this industry.

Join us on October 19 at 11:00 a.m. ET for a webinar with FLYR Founder and CEO Alex Mans, “How Artificial Intelligence is Reshaping the Travel Industry.” register today

For more information on how FLYR helps airlines optimize their total revenue, see their latest white paper with IATA.

This content was created in collaboration by FLYR and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.