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Cirium identifies the top 5 aviation and travel trends to watch in 2020 and beyond

January 23, 2020 Aviation No Comments Email Email


For the past decade, the biggest challenge for commercial aviation has been to safely keep up with the rapid growth in passenger demand that is straining capacity. The skies are crowded, the competition is fierce, and the operational environment is extremely complex. Airlines and airports have had to get much smarter about how they use technology, data, and processes to squeeze additional capacity out of limited resources.

As we enter a brand new decade, Cirium predicts that data and analytics will continue to be one of the key trends. However, analytics will have to become much more human-centric, with a significant focus on end-users.

1. Human-centered data and analytics 2.0

While big data and analytics became popularized in the previous decade, there is still a lot of untapped potential. The race to extract meaningful and valuable information out of new data sources has only just begun.

“The amount of data being generated by aircraft, locations and devices is increasing,” says Steve Wilson, Data Scientist at Cirium. “Getting this data wrangled and into decision makers should help make the industry more efficient. With this mountain of data being created—something like 100 billion GB annually estimated by Oliver Wyman—can be used for forecasting and predictions. Deep learning models that despite not being quite capable of general artificial intelligence, should prove really useful in reaching gains and improvements for the industry.”

If you think of data-driven intelligence as a series of phases, then 2020 will herald the human-centered phase of our data evolution. The previous phase was about using structured and unstructured data to answer questions after an event. The next phase will be a matter of anticipating behavior and providing answers before questions need to be asked.

2. Predictive maintenance

Quality data is the foundation for any type of predictive capability. Now that the technology needed to collect, process, prepare and structure massive amounts of device data exists, there is a good chance machine learning could evolve enough in the next decade to monitor patterns and events in real time.

“There is already a focus on data collection and analytics to drive aftermarket service revenue growth for aircraft manufacturers, MRO service providers and systems suppliers,” says Andrew Doyle, Director, Market Development at Cirium. “The next step is development and deployment of predictive maintenance algorithms enabling replacement of critical components prior to failure, leading to a significant reduction in aircraft technical delays.”

3. Airline revenue management

The power of predictive analytics doesn’t stop at the physical parts of an aircraft. Airlines and airports are getting better at predicting consumer demand and optimizing price or inventory to maximize revenue growth. For example, airlines now have tools at their disposal to accurately forecast demand on a cabin level—thereby getting a look at their true profit in a market.

“If you look at the US domestic market, both American and Delta have come out with growth plans that are above the industry 3-4% growth rates,” says Greer. “Delta is managing this by upgrading to larger aircraft, while American is doing the same, in addition to reconfiguring aircraft with additional seats.”

Accommodating predicted demand isn’t something airlines will be able to do alone. It will take collaboration and connection across the industry to achieve new levels of revenue growth.

“Certain Asian markets are the fastest growing in the industry,” says White. “The challenge for the 2020s will be to expand the ability of airlines, airports, and ANSPs to share data and collaborate across the region in order to keep traffic flowing, passengers safe, and to deliver a quality service. Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics will be a good test for the overall network.”

A current barrier to increased collaboration among airlines and airports is the reluctance to share data. Trust and ownerships of data remain major issues in the industry; however, the key to making progress in maximizing revenue in 2020 and beyond will be a less restricted exchange of data. The benefits of this exchange will mean a more seamless journey toward developing more sophisticated, enhanced analytics.

“In the decade to come, I think we can expect to see technology largely improving airline and airport operational efficiency,” says Joanna Lu, Head of Consultancy, Asia at Cirium. “Data and information sharing among stakeholders in the industry shall be improved to face the headwinds.”

4. Dynamic personalization

It’s widely known people buy experiences, not products. In the decade to come, each part of the trip experience will be impacted through personalization powered by machine learning—from in-flight services to pre-trip planning and disruption recovery.

While the 2010s were an era for change in the way customer problems were addressed, the 2020s will be a time where brands get smarter about every single customer touchpoint. The next logical step after customer service is customer engagement. It’s no longer sufficient to quickly answer questions and resolve problems. The time has come to create ongoing interactions between customer and company, shaped by the customer profile.

“Airlines are stepping up their game to adapt and engage individual traveler types by analyzing their preferences, behavior and demographics,” says Charles Brossman, Senior Product Manager at Cirium. “They’re launching new and exciting customer engagement strategies to interact with them. This makes customers feel noticed and appreciated, which is critical to building brand loyalty.”

Tailoring messages and services to individual travelers is the expectation right now, particularly among Millennials. Yet, most airlines and other travel service providers still don’t have the right mix of data, technology and people to achieve a personalized experience customers will remember. The opportunity to impress and win over travelers on an emotional level is still wide open

“Automated personalization will finally be coming to travel” says Mamantov. “A few airlines are getting all their data organized and breaking down the siloes to better link up the different dimensions of customer information. Look for loyalty to build with the brands who can predict needs and behavior based on the omni-channel experience finally becoming more actionable.”

Providers across the industry will endeavor to link their value to traveler data. From manufacturing to tech services, every part of the ecosystem has an opportunity to be valuable to airlines and travelers.

5. Eco-consciousness

The travel industry has been one of the major targets of environmental criticism in recent years. Air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, after all.

Airlines are already having to take stronger action to minimize their carbon footprint. In this new decade, they will also be expected to ensure fuel efficiency isn’t outstripped by growing demand.

“We are seeing the very early stage of electric aircraft now flying in Canada,” says Alistair Rivers, Director, Market Development at Cirium. “There will be pressure to reduce operations of current fuel operated aircraft. I live in hope of a coordinated single European sky from an air traffic control point of view as this has massive potential to save both fuel and time by allowing aircraft to fly more directly.”

All innovations and trends start with an idea. However, many of the ideas mentioned in this list simply wouldn’t be possible without the passion and collaboration of the right stakeholders. And, of course, the contribution of Cirium, which is committed to working with the stakeholders in the aviation and travel industry to help them shape their next big idea.



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