The last month of Summer proved a mixed bag for the aviation industry. We learned of improved airline on-time performance (OTP), but also the continued struggles of the air cargo sector. August also reflected the industry’s heightened focus on Big Data; and how to harness and use it to improve business processes for enhanced decision-making, safety, and passenger experience.
Cirium’s Aviation Analytics Highlights Those Airlines with the Best July On-Time Performance
Based on its monthly on-time report for July, Cirium noted that LATAM Airlines had the best record for punctuality in July 2023. Specifically, LATA achieved an 85.30% on-time performance (OTP) globally in July. Avianca, which was the best OTP airline in June, achieved a punctuality score of 84.67%. Avianca outperformed Saudia which earned third place with an OTP score of 83.76%.
Looking at OTP on a regional basis, Iberia had the highest OTP rating in Europe at 80.75%. Copa Airlines triumphed in Latin America achieving 89.74% on-time arrival performance.
Other findings from Cirium’s aviation analytics related to flight cancellation rates. Its data showed that while rates improved in Europe, North America experienced an increase in cancellations.
Air Cargo Slowly Recovering, but Some Remain Optimistic
By all accounts, air cargo still has a long way to go to return to its normal capacities. While some industry insiders have taken a more doom and gloom outlook, others are a bit more optimistic.
The investment bank Stifel’s Director and Senior Research Analyst covering global logistics and future mobility Bruce Chan wrote in the Baltic Exchange Air Cargo Market Newsletter, “We feel, based on our conversations with management teams – both public and private – and our channel checks with shippers, that we have seen the bottom. That bottom may be more of a flat hull than a V-shape. So, things are not likely to get much worse from a demand perspective, in our view.” Chan did, however, issue a caveat noting that the air cargo market was not likely to bounce back and to expect a modest peak season. He cited the role of consumer confidence as a primary factor in how retailers will or will not rebuild their stocks. Also noted by Chan was inflation abatement as a factor in whether the air cargo sector will experience a modest peak season or a muted one.
Taking a more optimistic view was TAC Index Editor Neil Wilson who wrote, “Market sources are increasingly optimistic some sort of uptick is indeed coming soon – based not least on major product launches that should stimulate demand by September.” Wilson continued, “With air cargo capacity also being cut by various carriers from FedEx to JetOneX, this is also making players cautiously optimistic that there will be some sort of peak season spike in 2023 – unlike last year when the usual peak season simply failed to occur. New capacity is being gradually reduced again; it seems logical to conclude normalization of the market should also lead to a more normal cycle, including peak season.”
Reigning in Big Data in Aviation Management for Big Gains
Big Data (i.e., large, difficult to manage volumes of structured and/or unstructured information) has been a top of mind concern for all industries including aviation. Not surprisingly, airlines, airports, ground handlers and other service providers are looking for ways to better manage and leverage Big Data to reach their business goals and drive improvements in key areas such as safety and passenger experience.
Big Data and Air Safety
Thales, a global provider of sensors and mission systems, communications, command and control systems, communication networks and infrastructure systems, noted that Big Data plays an integral role in the improvement of air safety. For this purpose, data from embedded systems is helping to drive a predictive approach to carrier maintenance with predictive algorithms indicating the wear and tear on various aircraft parts. Additionally, data is being used to protect against cyberattacks. Data sourced from logs and technical data can also be applied to enhance flight safety. This is especially helpful in an aviation accident recovery when relying on the traditional black box for information proves challenging.
Big Data and Passenger Experience
Another area where Big Data can be extremely powerful is in the enhancement of the passenger experience. Applying Big Data has led to a notable improvement in such operational processes as passenger check-in, baggage loading, and flight dispatching. Additionally, it can be used to tag passengers based on their behaviors, preferences, and travel plans in order to deliver a more personalized service.
Today, Big Data is applied in many ways ranging from target marketing to predictive maintenance and passenger behavior insights. Within aviation, data is collected every second with MROs and OEMs collecting terabytes of data from on-board aircraft sensors for every flight. Airports and airlines store rich data on passenger behaviors, while air traffic management companies apply real-time data from many sources (e.g., radar, satellites, weather stations, and aircraft sensors) to improve their decision-making.
To gain the most from Big Data, the airline industry will need to identify opportunities to harness Big Data to drive innovation and gain a competitive edge. This will require mitigating such challenges including regulatory and legal challenges, as well as achieving improved data quality and integration.
>> Let us know what you think about the latest industry developments!