AI technology
News | Knowledge | BAE Ventures | 30 Apr 2024

New Technologies and the Implementation of AI... How to ensure airlines manage another ‘bumper-summer’ of travel here in Europe...

Airport view
AI technology

European airlines are preparing for record passenger numbers this summer as people rush to book flights despite the economic gloom and high-ticket prices, and Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air, the region’s three big low-cost airlines, all pointed to early signs of strong summer demand, as well as rising fares, in their most recent results.

Indications that consumers are prioritising travel have spurred airlines to increase flights over summer; in fact, European airlines will have 817.5mn seats available between April and October, according to travel data company OAG, the highest number on record. So, demand remains very strong across the board as Airlines are on course for a second consecutive bumper summer, after reporting healthy profits thanks to high fares last year.

Demand for travel has shot up since pandemic restrictions ended but the supply of aircraft remains limited because of problems including delayed deliveries from Boeing and the grounding of some Airbus planes for checks on their engines. This may result in shortfall in seats compared with demand, and, put extra pressures on airlines in managing such passenger demand and service experiences.

So, as the peak travel season is now with us, and, such strong demand has supported great sales, airlines will need to reassess their both operational and customer service strategies. Adopting automation and focusing on personalization are not mere trends; they are essential components of a competitive service offering. Here are a few strategic steps to ensure readiness for the summer rush:

  • Automate routine inquiries: Integrate chatbots to handle both simple and complex tasks like flight updates and seat reassignment, reducing wait times and allowing agents to focus on more meaningful issues;
  • Personalize interactions: Use data analytics to offer tailored services such as special assistance or targeted promotions, enhancing the customer journey;
  • Empower customer service teams: Train agents to address sensitive issues with empathy, ensuring a human touch in the event that the implemented technology is unable to meet the demands of the most complex use cases;
  • Leverage customer feedback: Implement tools to gather real-time feedback across touchpoints, using insights to refine services and address customer needs effectively.

Taking advantage of new technologies and embracing AI means capturing the right data and using it in real-time. Airlines, like most industries, are turning to AI-related technologies to address the dual objective of reducing operational costs and elevating passenger experiences.

The embrace of AI technologies, such as machine learning, large language models, and data analytics, directly responds to the industry’s challenges, allowing the airlines to benefit from enhanced demand, whist ensuring the operation delivers. Overall, it is such innovative applications that will help carriers differentiate from the competition as well as driving efficiency savings.

In summary, as the technology progresses, it is paramount to consider the following:

  • Smartphones enable customers and employees to access the insights and information these technologies provide in real-time;
  • Effective data capture along the entire passenger (and baggage) journey enables AI models to generate reliable predictive models;
  • Getting AI-driven insight is one thing; presenting it in a human and engaging way is another. Here, technology such as augmented reality can help to display these AI-induced insights in a seamless way to enhance experiences or drive efficiency;
  • While AI performs numerous behind-the-scenes tasks, its accurate measure of success lies in its seamless integration with passenger processes or airline staff operational outcomes.

Any airline looking at AI needs to ramp up data collection to ensure the raw data going into these innovative systems is comprehensive. Smart data capture technology across websites, passenger applications, and operational apps for agents can ensure speed, accuracy, and intelligence. And, smart devices, in particular, are a key tool to support various uses of AI. They are best placed to connect what is happening in the data centre with what is happening in the airport, the air, and the real and digital worlds.

Let’s ensure we are ready to embrace such technological enhancements for the good of the travellers this summer…