Keflavik International Airport Is Using Dynamic Forecasting To Navigate The Pandemic

The global health crisis rocked the commercial aviation industry across the continents this year. From quarantine procedures to border closures, the pandemic caused several travel restrictions to be implemented. As a result, Keflavik International Airport (KEF) has implemented a dynamic forecasting solution to assist in the smooth running of operations when dealing with volatile flight schedules, load factors, and passenger presentation profiles. 

Keflavik International Airport
Keflavik International is putting technology to good use. Photo: Keflavik International Airport

Thordis Bjørnsdottir, a specialist in operation research at Isavia, the national airport and air navigation service provider of Iceland, recently spoke to Simple Flying about this innovative system.

Adapting with the times

In an interview with Simple Flying, Keflavik International has had several new variables to come up against amid the pandemic. Along with flight schedules and revised international travel policies, the airport has to deal with screening, cleaning, and social distancing. Moreover, passenger habits are changing. Therefore, the current climate has meant that Iceland’s main hub can’t depend on plans based on pre-pandemic patterns.

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Subsequently, this summer, the airport consulted modern technology to deal with the “new normal.” It also enhanced its use of new systems throughout the year.

“We experienced considerable success with Veovo’s Passenger Predictably technology, which gives us complete airport-wide passenger flow insights. These have helped us streamline multiple processes and reduce our manual forecasting workload significantly. Earlier this year, they demonstrated the benefits of their new forecasting solution, including per-flight forecasting and live re-forecasting,” Bjørnsdottir said in the interview.

“We saw great benefit in adding this solution to our current Veovo system. At the time, we faced exponential growth in passenger numbers, and we felt that this addition would enable us to better match capacity with demand.”

A summary of Veovo’s passenger appearance forecasting system. Photo: Veovo

Identifying changes

Bjørnsdottir highlights that the forecasting solution has proven valuable due to how rapidly conditions change. The live re-forecasting capabilities provide an early indication of shifts to passenger presentation profiles per flight. It continually reflects and re-forecasts based on the present situation. This process allows the airport to adapt plans and rosters swiftly. So, this factor improves the passenger journey and keeps costs low.

For example, KEF was able to identify deviations in passenger show-up behavior in its security control. Travelers were arriving later than usual because of the pandemic. Due to the rapid nature of the data, staff members could see the deviation between the forecast and reality. So, they were able to react and adjust the forecast accordingly.

“The system draws data from multiple sources, including various sensor technologies, AODB, boarding pass scans and more. This creates an accurate by-flight picture of how our passengers move throughout the terminal,” Bjørnsdottir added.

“It allows us to forecast for days, weeks, even months ahead more accurately. And, as it continually re-forecasts, we are alerted immediately when predetermined thresholds are reached.”

Moreover, resourcing and operational actions are suggested to minimize bottlenecks and stop crowding. It also allows the airport to understand the cause of the deviation from the plan. Factors could include late arrivals or an unexpectedly slower security procedure. The insight is then fed back into the projection to constantly improve forecast accuracy, which is based on local situations.

Keflavik International
Last year, just under nearly ten million people arrived at or departed from Keflavik. Photo: Keflavik International Airport / Veovo

Helping out in the long-term

Looking forward, KEF says that the solution has proven that it can help handle the most unpredictable and volatile situations effectively and safely. Subsequently, if a return to pre-pandemic occupancy is slow, the hub could see great expansion possibilities for the system.

Ultimately, the solution is a game-changer for the airport in the current climate. The fact that situations are continually changing means that the airport needs a way to keep up to date instantly. Bjørnsdottir concludes that due to the service’s capability to accurately reflecting the current situation, the airport will be able to manage transport growth as the pandemic gets under control. So, fliers can feel more confident in the safety of air travel, which will help accelerate the return to positive passenger activity.

Icelandair 767
Passengers of the likes of Icelandair would benefit from these measures. Photo: Getty Images

Altogether, the global health crisis is continuing to cause uncertainty across airports. So, technological advances such as what Keflavik International and Veovo are implementing will go a long way.

What are your thoughts about the way Keflavik International Airport is using dynamic forecasting to navigate the pandemic during these uncertain times? Do you think that this is a good move by the airport? Let us know what you think in the comment section.