The Vital Role Of Data Analytics In Aviation Amid This Crisis

The global health crisis has completely rocked the aviation industry from top to bottom. As a result, airlines are having to make crucial decisions to help them adapt. However, the conditions are constantly shifting and processes can become outdated within an instant. Therefore, carriers are turning to modern data technologies amid the ever-changing situation.

737 Silhouette
How airlines use data could determine their positioning in the post-pandemic era. Photo: Getty Images

An essential role

Alteryx is a data software vendor and it is a leader in the analytic-process automation space. The company is a major player across several worldwide industries. When it comes to the world of aviation, its products allow airlines to look at operational analytics and automation, make decisions regarding pricing optimization, and analyze customer data.

The firm has worked with many aviation groups across the globe. There have been several key breakthroughs when it comes to progressive decisions made amid the use of the its software. Some of the outfits that have benefited from these tools over the years are Copa Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Dubai Airport, Munich Airport, and Southwest Airlines.

The latter was able to save $100m in fuel-efficiency thanks to the help of Alteryx’s software.  With the carrier having to deal with the complexity of approximately 100 different airports, having these types of complex analytics driven through Excel is not flexible enough to handle the environment where things are changing extremely rapidly.

So, Southwest developed an algorithm to compare various statistical model accuracies. This selects a statistical model that is the best fit for each category and each location.

Southwest takes off from DIA
Southwest has been able to save a significant amount of money by analyzing data. Photo: Getty Images

A new era

Travel restrictions forced most airlines to suspend several of their flights and ground the majority of their fleets earlier this year. Airports are slowly opening up again for commercial activity. However, as with the initial downturn, carriers still have to make careful decisions about what services to operate.

Passenger demand, flight frequencies, border opening dates, quarantine policies, pricing structures, and the fuel economy are just some of the countless aspects that operators need to consider. Simple Flying spoke with Alteryx’s Vice President of EMEA, Alan Gibson, about how airlines are adapting during these unprecedented times.

“The pandemic amplified the shortcomings in a lot of businesses. And, probably, what I heard more than anything early on was just how many wished they had embraced data analytics sooner. The organizations who were already data-savvy and had a bit of a head start were able to recognize some of the shifts in demand pretty early and reflect it in their products and services,” Gibson told Simple Flying.

“Regardless, a lot of businesses will shy away from innovation and opportunities for growth mostly due to the current economic landscape. One facet does remain certain and that’s that data analytics provides a lot of certainty amidst uncertain times.”

With so many groundings this year, carriers have to carefully plan their schedules. Photo: Getty Images

Looking ahead

Alteryx explains that its analytic process automation (APA) platform delivers end-to-end automation of analytics, machine learning, and data science processes. This tool enables the agility needed to accelerate digital transformation. Circumstances are changing so fast. Therefore, it almost doesn’t matter what happened two months ago. 

However, the airlines that have an APA platform are able to plan various scenarios. They can see what would happen if they resumed service to a certain destination. Additionally, they can see if the move will impact other routes that they run. Moreover, they can see how their decisions impact other factors such as staffing.

Gibson said that those who invested in these tools already have a head start around making crucial steps when it comes to planning. They are able to make quick decisions as opposed to gut feelings or waiting for two weeks for Excel-based analysis.

Moreover, there is less reliance on airlines’ data-analytics teams who have to write a bunch of code and integrate various technologies together in order to get to their answers. Ultimately, those who are still relying on outdated processes are still playing catch up.

Copa Airlines Getty
With Latin America poised to open up, it won’t be a surprise to see the likes of Copa Airlines making important data-driven decisions once again. Photo: Getty Images.

Crucial moments

Altogether, industry analysts predict that it could take three to five years for the market to return to 2019 levels. So, data analytics will continue to play a critical role in coping with the challenges that carriers will face. Data is being constantly accumulated since the pandemic started. Therefore, airlines will be able to continue making informed decisions as they adapt and grow in the post-pandemic climate.

What are your thoughts about the role of data analytics in the current conditions? Let us know what you think in the comment section.