Jeremy Bowen, CEO of Cirium explains how to predict the new future of air travel using data and analytics.

    At the height of the Covid-19 crisis, on 17 April 2020, two thirds of the world’s jet fleet was grounded— some of which may never take off again. We’ve seen airlines go bust, while stories about bankruptcy protection and government bailouts continue to lead the news agenda. As carriers burn through cash at a phenomenal rate, schedules have been slashed and staff furloughed in response to the impact of the pandemic.

    But the aviation industry has a proven record of resilience. While some airlines will sadly go out of business, those that survive will have the opportunity to pick up extra slots at airports, face less competition on routes and adopt more advanced technology. The data surrounding coronavirus provides valuable insights for businesses to plan and prepare for recovery, such as when to rotate aircraft and how to bring jets back into service efficiently.

    As of 6 August, two thirds of the global passenger fleet was back in service, with domestic markets picking up and ‘travel bubbles’ emerging. But it’s not easy to return aircraft to service in such large volumes and in such a short period of time. This challenge has been compounded by continuing and constantly changing government travel restrictions. The effects ricochet across the entire industry, impacting everyone from airlines and manufacturers to MROs and the wider supply chain.

    Meanwhile, it’s difficult for the sector to effectively forecast demand as consumer confidence remains down amid the threat of a second wave of the virus. One way to manage this travel disruption is to tap into the value of data and analytics—learning from real-time updates as well as historical data patterns and modelling. Of course, not everything is completely controllable. But we can gain more control through a research-driven response.

    Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies were starting to use data to deliver real-time alerts and proactively manage flight disruption. Intelligent data capabilities enable airlines to enhance the traveller experience, even when they can’t control all the aspects of that travel.