Airlines and airports are investing in technologies to help predict and prepare for future events. This is according to The Future is Predictable, a report published by air transport IT provider, SITA. It outlines how efforts are being made to tackle the estimated US$25 billion cost of flight disruptions to the air transport industry by harnessing artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, predictive analytics and other progressive technical capabilities.
SITA’s analysis reveals that predictive tools using artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are likely to be adopted by half of airlines and airports over the coming five to 10 years. However, a few front runners are already trialing predictive modeling, machine learning, and data mining. These efforts are mainly focused on initiatives that will provide passengers with more relevant information about their journey to create more seamless and personal experiences.
Nigel Pickford, Director Market Insight at SITA, said: “There is a desire to remove as much uncertainty as possible during travel. Airlines and airports are focusing on technologies that will make them more responsive to issues in their operations. This will enable them to improve their performance and customer services. At SITA we are funneling investment into specific research around disruption management. Our technology research team, SITA Lab, is currently developing disruption warning and prediction capabilities using industry-specific and public data feeds such as Twitter, to help tackle this huge challenge and reduce this tremendous cost to the industry.”
During 2017, SITA Lab will be validating delay predictions with airlines and airports and expects to complete up to five trials with its industry partners. The next stage will be to incorporate its delay prediction algorithm and disruption warning feeds into SITA’s services to the air transport industry.
In the report, leading airports and airlines share their experiences including Gatwick Airport where a seamless passenger experience from curb to gate is the goal. Here several different areas of airport activity are tracked to measure performance and move towards predicting it. Chris Howell, Head of Business Systems, Gatwick Airport, describing the work at Gatwick in this area, said: “We’ve moved from ‘how did we do?’ to ‘how are we doing?’ and can now also answer ‘how will we do?’”
As artificial intelligence develops the importance of maintaining the human touch is not lost on the airlines and airports. Indeed, the combination of people and artificial intelligence is described as transforming the travel experience. In a case study on European low cost carrier, easyJet, Alberto Rey-Villaverde, Head of Data Science, easyJet, said: “AI plus the human element is more powerful than AI alone.”
The science of artificial intelligence is developing quickly and airlines and airports are turning to the academic community to help them with predictive tools to tackle disruptions. SITA’s report discusses research that is being carried out with scientists from Binghamton University, State University of New York; University of Nottingham as part the European Union-funded consortium PASSME; Carnegie Mellon University; Oxford University’s Data Science Laboratory in the Mathematical Institute and University College London School of Management.
The Future is Predictable combines SITA’s global industry experience and studies with commentary and case studies from airports and airlines that are investing in the latest research and technologies. Those featured include: Gatwick Airport, easyJet, Brussels Airport Company, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Denver International Airport, KLM and Meridiana along with industry perspectives from International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI).