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Is it time to get a grip on disruption?

Published on  13 March by Nick Gates , Portfolio Director, SITA
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Predicting the future is now more science than art, so is it time for airlines to get a grip on disruption?

Every flight delay is meaningful to someone and in this age of social media, that can often lead to a public shaming for the airline involved.

But the carrier is not always the villain. Our analysis shows that the airlines only have control over around 50% of delays. Half is still a sizeable number so the pressure is on airlines to find new ways to pre-empt disruption – or at least minimize the effect when it’s unavoidable.

It’s not just upset passengers and public shaming that concerns the airlines, there is a considerable financial incentive too. The cost of disruption eats away at the wafer-thin margins of airlines – in 2016 this ran to a staggering US$28 billion in direct costs.

Change is coming

Digital technologies have given access to a wide source of data, which means today we can understand more accurately the root causes and interdependencies of these delays.

Working with Australian-based CTI, we at SITA are developing an advanced disruption management solution that can be used by the people in the Operations Control Centers (OCC) and Hub Control Centers (HCC) at airlines to make the right decisions earlier. In fact, our software can help prevent and mitigate over 20% of those delays in the control of airlines.

It works by integrating siloed data to create a “single truth” data set in real-time. By using optimization algorithms, a wide range of day-to-day operational issues, such as flight delays, total delay cost and the impact on subsequent flights, crew assignments, connecting passengers and baggage, can be solved in real-time.

Good news

You don’t need to be a techie to understand this complex system. It is really intuitive with a highly visual graphical user interface (GUI) that can provide situational awareness across a route network at a glance.

This week I’ll be at PTE in Amsterdam with my team giving a firsthand view of what we have developed.  So, if you are there, take the time to drop by our exhibition stand (8050) and check it out for yourself.

And there’s more to come

This is just the beginning of what is going to be an incredibly powerful tool for airlines that want to get a grip on disruption. In September 2017, we expect to be able to provide accurate flight delay predictions by incorporating a wider set of data sources and events external to the airline, such as weather forecasts and global flight information.

Our aim is to predict over 80% of delays with a precision of +/- 15 minutes up to 48 hours in advance, over 85% +/- 10 minutes up to 24 hours in advance, and over 90% +/- 5 minutes up to 12 hours in advance. Results so far have been impressive.

The eventual goal of our system is to not only allow operational staff at the airline to take pre-emptive action, but to suggest what that action should be based on the airline’s pre-set criteria. These could be set to minimize cost, minimize passenger disruption, or ensure some other outcome.

Life in the OCC is about to get simpler!

Come and explore how to get a grip on your disruption at stand 8050 at the Passenger Terminal Expo in Amsterdam 14-16-March.

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