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Opportunity rising

Airlines are examining all options when it comes to monetising the vast data they generate from their operations. Keith Mwanalushi speaks to experts about the possible revenue opportunities

Over the last couple of years, the subject of data monetisation has been a hot topic in the airline industry. It is now well known that passenger data carries value and what air carriers do with that data is now in focus.

European LCC easyJet has been using data for several years after applying a data driven approach to its revenue management system.

In August, the carrier launched a recruitment drive for 28 data scientists to join in the airline’s drive towards data. This initiative follows the creation of a new position at the airline for a Chief Data Officer, the post, being awarded to Luca Zuccoli also in August.

easyJet creates billions of data points each year, from billions of  website searches every year to the millions of hours its aircraft fly, Zuccoli and his team of data scientists will lead and coordinate the management of data across the airline.

“easyJet is already digitally advanced in both its contact with customers and across its operations,” Chief Executive Officer of easyJet Johan Lundgren said in an August press statement. “Since our launch more than two decades ago we have always looked to cutting-edge technology to continually improve the airline and our customers’ experience of it from reducing fares to improving schedules and making sure they can eat what they want on board.”


The airline said areas of focus for the data scientists will range from improving the flight schedule to ensure it best meets passenger demand, driving customer loyalty, and using the vast number of searches each year from the website to better understand and provide for customer demand.


“Luca and his team will give even greater focus and weight to the airline’s use of this data to create insights which will improve the customer proposition, drive „  revenue and reduce cost so that we can truly be the most data driven airline in the world,” added Lundgren. 
Data monetisation is growing rapidly across all industries, observes Harald Eisenaecher, Chief Commercial Officer at Infare – a data and technology partner for the aviation industry. “The airline sector, specifically within the low cost market, has always been at the forefront of that trend and still is.”

He reckons the revenue management and pricing strategy work at play in the low cost industry is an impressive example of how to turn big data into competitive leverage and financial gain.

“Every day, airlines and their suppliers are transforming an incredible amount of data into actionable information and the rate of data consumption and processing capability is growing exponentially.”

Commercially speaking, this is fed by a distribution landscape that is constantly changing and increasing in complexity, whether it be in terms of sales channels, pricing behaviour, customer interaction or distribution methodology, Eisenaecher tells.

Interestingly, at Infare, not only do they see data monetisation spreading across organisations as its benefit continues to be shown, but also up and down the organisational ladder, supporting everything from corporate level decision making to reviewing customer behaviour and operational performance.

Retail inMotion, the specialists in the ever-growing onboard retail business, have partnered with several LCCs and regional operators. Jan Blanchard, Chief Commercial Officer at Retail inMotion says the airline industry has certainly made some great strides over the past several years when it comes to data monetisation.

“We see that airlines are taking steps to understand the data that they have and how they can use it more effectively. This isn’t necessarily a unique feature for the low cost sector of the industry, although it is perhaps more responsive to the data they’re collecting, but almost without exception airlines are paying more attention to passenger behaviour,” notes Blanchard. >>


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