As the need to disseminate information across airline operations increases, moving to a model that uses technology and data to unify departments is becoming increasingly important. By better utilizing simplified access to data from across the operation, airline employees can make better decisions.
In this first of two posts, we talk with Sabre AirCentre Vice President Kamal Qatato about how he’s working to help airlines best utilize technology and become more connected.
What are some of the factors hampering airline profitability?
The operational challenges airlines are facing today are much greater than they’ve been in the past. They’re not necessarily different challenges, but the volume and, as I like to say, the “more of everything” has changed. For example, more people are traveling, there are more air space constraints because of more planes and there are more regulations. The “more of everything” problem has amplified operational complexity, making it difficult for airlines to operate efficiently, manage costs and deliver on their brand promises to customers.
Consistently providing positive customer experiences despite regular but unpredictable disruptions is another factor challenging airlines’ profitability. There are small disruptions and large-scale disruptions, such as major weather events, that can span several days. But regardless of size, these irregular operations are the norm now, and airlines must find ways to mitigate or recover quickly from these events to protect their flight schedules, customer experiences, airline brand perceptions and ultimately their profitability.
What are some of the top obstacles to improving airline performance?
Some of the top obstacles airlines face to improving performance revolve around data. In the typical airline operations center, there is no shortage of data available to employees. However, because of the numerous, disparate systems used by most airlines, data sets may be incomplete or out of date or employees may have to sift through numerous places to find needed information.
It’s important that the airline staff on the ground, in the air and in the operations control center have complete information that they can act on quickly. Without immediate access to insights about the end-to-end operations, management can’t fully monitor or optimize performance.
Airlines are also challenged with distributing the latest and most accurate operational information to their staffs – particularly speeds required in today’s operating environment. With the advent of social media, passengers are often able to share and access flight information faster than airline staff. So there’s more pressure now to get ahead of the situation and to quickly communicate any changes to stakeholders across the operation.
Can you explain the concept of the connected airline?
Transforming into a connected airline means pulling the operations functions more tightly together with unified technology and business processes – all powered by data. Once departments have this unified operations platform, which we call the Connected Airline, they have access to a shared view of the operation. This helps teams make decisions more collaboratively, increases situational awareness and drives operational efficiencies, which benefit travelers and the airline’s bottom line.
How does the traditional airline differ from the connected one?
Most airline operations functions are co-located in a single control center, which supports interaction across departments. However, the majority of teams still struggle with limited access to the right data, disparate technology systems, and manual or ad-hoc communications, all of which lead to complexity and challenges in streamlining the operation.
In a connected airline enabled by a unified operations platform, teams have simplified access to real-time data about the operation to help them make faster, more confident decisions. Integrated systems and business processes allow teams to share information and what-if scenarios so they can collaborate on making the best possible decisions for the whole operation. And, finally, the connected airline is armed with mobile solutions to streamline communications across the world’s most mobile workforce.
Kamal Qatato has more than 24 years of experience leading teams and building technology solutions for the travel and transportation industries. He has held numerous executive positions across product management, solutions delivery, sales & account management, and software development. He currently leads the Sabre AirCentre Enterprise Operations line of business at Sabre Airline Solutions.