Christophe Bousquet, senior vice president, airlines research and development with Amadeus, here explores what the company is doing to support customers across the business during coronavirus pandemic.
Amadeus’ vision is to be the leading provider of technology solutions for the travel industry. This vision is now more important than ever, and we are absolutely focused on finding innovative solutions to support airlines during this time.
Our airlines research and development teams are working with passion and grit to develop and deliver solutions to support our airline customers today. We are concentrating on certain areas where there have been large transaction volumes, such as flight schedule changes, optimised passenger recovery, disruption, and revenue integrity, and the organisation is laser-focused on those initiatives and others.
Here is what else Amadeus teams are doing to support our airline customers.
Serving the needs of airlines with agility
Our teams are working in lean and agile development mode, known as SAFe (Scaled, Agile Framework for Enterprises), changing scopes, priorities, and accelerating or decelerating development and delivery of solutions that address our customers’ urgent needs. One of our airline customers, for example, are using this less busy period to implement a departure control system cutover in a few weeks instead of the three months originally planned.
Working in SAFe mode allows our teams to deliver innovative ways for airlines to reconfigure their cabins with agility, for example, to optimise the weight and balance of cargo loaded into the passenger cabin. Additionally, we are working with carriers on a case-by-case basis to apply government-mandated safety measures quickly, such as aircraft physical distancing configurations.
The Amadeus Airline Platform’s open development environment enables us to create solutions to problems that didn’t even exist at the beginning of the year. Like most of the world, our teams are working from home, making these accomplishments even more impressive. Looking ahead, SAFe will be key to streamlining the software development process for years to come so we can adapt to the needs of our airline customers with greater agility and deliver value faster.
As soon as the crisis began, we took swift action to ensure all hands were on deck to assist our airline customers. The teams supporting schedule change and re-accommodation processes are working directly with airlines all over the world, capitalising on our global organization and research presence in London, Boston, Sydney, Bangalore and Nice.
For example, one carrier had to cancel approximately 16,000 flights and re-accommodate around 3.75 million passengers. To assist them, we immediately defined a joint game plan with the carrier’s teams. The result was a five-day action plan, with Amadeus supporting daily batches to handle one week of schedule changes, with active monitoring and reporting. The plan was so successful that the carrier would like to capitalize on this new process to handle the same type of reduction of its network for the coming months.
Taking data science to new levels
Amadeus has some of the best data scientists in the industry working on the most pressing issues airlines face. Today’s constantly changing environment provides the opportunity to use new data and techniques, to complement and enrich the things we have been doing up until now.
For example, over the last year, we conducted several workshops with our airline customers to better understand the end-to-end decision workflows of their analysts with a focus on understanding how we could better integrate the changing market context in those workflows. These workshops are really paying off amid the present circumstances. They have helped us support airlines with new data visualisations that provide better combinations of operational indicators so their analysts can make intelligent business decisions.
Our data science team is also working closely with airline data analysts to perform deeper analysis of demand and willingness-to-pay under changing market conditions. This helps airlines improve the accuracy of their forecasts in an uncertain and dynamic environment. While no one could predict changes of the magnitude we see today, Amadeus has been steadily investing in dynamic data and forecast capabilities to adapt our technology to rapidly changing market trends, so our customers have the most responsive tools for whatever situation might arise.
Optimising revenue management will be crucial for airlines during recovery. Artificial intelligence, and specifically machine learning algorithms are already incorporated into our revenue management solutions to help do this. Normally, this activity relies on historical data to understand behaviours and make forecasts, but our revenue management systems have shown great resilience in the current market context where there is no precedent to rely upon. At the same time, our researchers and scientists are working on ground-breaking new approaches to revenue management to become even more responsive and agile.
Right now, our teams are uniting different data sources like searches, bookings, cancellations, and airline schedules with external sources of data such as the country level epidemic situation and travel restrictions to aid airline analysts in crisis recovery detection. With machine learning, we can detect patterns of recovery automatically and understand how the recovery is taking place at different scales at market, country, and route levels. These patterns will help airlines make quick, efficient, and smart revenue management business decisions.
While these activities will help our airline customers today, we are also actively researching the prospects of competitor aware revenue management systems (CARMS) and how to apply other fields of artificial intelligence to revenue management, like reinforcement learning. I believe this research is planting the seeds for technological breakthroughs that will fundamentally reshape the field, especially through the better use of live data.
To our friends in the aviation industry
This is a challenge like no other, but we will continue to do everything we can to support our airline customers. As an engineer, I have always embraced the challenge of finding solutions to problems and I’m proud to see how my talented teams of developers, scientists, and aviation professionals around the world exemplify this mentality every day. We are passionately researching and developing the next generation of technology that will power the recovery of the airline industry.
As the saying goes, “Qui n’avance pas, recule,” or “Who does not move forward, recedes.” Amadeus’ teams are not only moving forward, we are also pushing the very boundaries of what’s possible with technology and I am confident that our customers will see the benefits of this as we all adapt to this new world.
Amadeus’ solutions connect travellers to the journeys they want through travel agents, search engines, tour operators, airlines, airports, hotels, cars and railways.
Find out more on the official website.