Airline Operations

Connecting airlines, airports, hotels, and travelers for seamless disruption management

Connecting airlines, airports, hotels, and travelers for seamless disruption management

You're all set to go on your trip only to arrive at the airport to find out that your flight has been delayed, or even worse – canceled! Whether that affects getting to a business meeting on time or enjoying a vacation, disruptions are a huge source of frustration for travelers and stress for airline staff. Regardless of the reason, wouldn´t you expect a swift and holistic response to the problem?

Before the pandemic, irregular operations (IROPS) cost around US$60 billion for airlines every year. But financial indicators and customer impact aren´t the only factors at play when a disruption strikes. Staff satisfaction is also at risk due to the stress levels of managing frustrated travelers as the airline´s brand reputation sits on the fence. A poorly managed disruption scenario amplifies the cost, staff, customer, and brand impact. Health and safety concerns add a new layer of stress as crowds gather and queue at the airport amid the pandemic.

Improving the end-to-end traveler experience

Complex processes kick in behind the scenes when IROPS strike. As surreal as it sounds in today´s digital age, many of these processes are still handled manually. Yet, modern technology decreases the impact on the bottom line, stress levels, and brand reputation.

Health and safety concerns and protocols due to the pandemic accelerated airline and airport investments in touchless and mobile passenger processing technologies. The bulk of these investments are foreseen to continue focusing on improving human throughflow efficiency at the airport. Within this context, increased automation and self-service capabilities promise to enhance the travel experience for both passengers and staff.

Yet, disruptions don´t always have a quick fix as re-accommodating passengers for a same-day departure isn´t always possible. Beyond luggage drop-offs and biometric scans, other critical technology investments need to be considered to improve traveler servicing during a disruption.

Simplifying and modernizing disruption management

It's high time disruption-driven crowd gatherings and reactionary queues for re-accommodation or paper-based compensation vouchers disappear. IROPS occur daily worldwide, so there must be a better and more proactive way of dealing with them, especially amidst ongoing health and safety fears. Travelers must be able to continue their seamless digital journeys regardless of whether operating conditions are normal or irregular. It´s no good going back to manual and paper-based processes during a disruption, even if prior airport processes are modern, touchless, and highly automated.

A digitally-enabled "beyond the airport" experience

Technology helps simplify, accelerate, and automate disruption management, reducing its impact on travelers, staff, and brands. Through closer integration between airlines and hotels, the industry could finally do away with manual and paper-based disruption management. Instead of handing out physical meal or hotel vouchers to queueing passengers, airlines and hotels could provide these in a digital format directly through their Apps. Closer integration increases efficiency, decreases costs, enhances the traveler experience, improves safety, and can even lead to new partnership models that reinforce loyalty and increase revenues.

While improving airport processes is an important component of the passenger experience, we have increasingly shorter-term memories and expect service on-demand. A modern airport experience during normal operating conditions means little if passengers are forced back to time-consuming and irritating legacy processes when a disruption strikes. Passengers queueing and filling out paper forms at a ground handling desk to recover their luggage will have quickly forgotten how convenient the automated baggage drop-off was.

Modernizing the traveler experience requires a value chain approach where stakeholders adopt a proactive strategy for how they service their customers during normal and irregular operations. And this is where digitalization and closer stakeholder integration can reset the playing field.

Author Info 

Daniel Stecher is VP of Airline Operations at IBS Software, and has more than 20 years of experience in the aviation and logistics industries. Prior to joining the IBS family, he was product manager and consultant for the schedule management, operations control and crew management product at Lufthansa Systems. Daniel is perpetually on the move, having raked up literally over a million miles of business travel in his career. He enjoys delicious home cooked food, reading books and the odd round of golf in his spare time.

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