Amadeus travel intelligence chief hails data scientist ‘superheroes’

Airlines will soon be using big data and business intelligence algorithms to fill aircraft seats at the last minute and to mitigate the impact of airports delays.

Technology developed by data scientists and software engineers in Amadeus’s travel intelligence business unit will help carriers sell more seats and save money by making ground operations more efficient.

Pascal Clement, head of the unit, said experts in his team had developed a travel intelligence (TI) engine that pulls data from multiple sources to provide a more insightful overview of an airline’s business.

A framework tailored to the specific requirements of the airline sits on top of the TI engine and business analysts look for ways and means to improve the airline’s profitability.

A number of carriers already use elements of the technology, including US-based Seaport Airlines.

But Clement said more exciting developments would soon be brought to the marketplace.

“We’re looking at tracking passengers in real time,” he said. “If the airline sees someone is stuck in a taxi 50 miles away and it’s close to departure, they can sell the seat to someone else, rebook the late passenger on the next flight, and send a message to their smartphone or tablet to tell them not to worry and that everything has been taken care of.”

Furthermore, Clement said airlines could evaluate their sales history and booking patterns to make decisions on how to sell last-minute seats.

“There may be two seats left on the aircraft only 24 hours before departure, and your data tells you that those seats are seldom sold. So using your passenger data you send a special offer to someone who flies regularly on the route, perhaps offering a 50% discount.”

This technology and insight could also revolutionise ground operations, saving airlines millions in cost, but also vastly improving the passenger experience.

“Big airlines have to deal with huge operations on and off the air field. Sources of data need to be pulled from air traffic control, fuel management, crew, maintenance, catering, cleaning, and connecting passengers. It all has to be coordinated. A flight only as to suffer a 15-minute delay and everything is knocked out of sync.

“But we’re moving challenging manual processes to total automation. You can press a button and reorganise the whole day’s schedule. The algorithms are programmed to make sure loss is minimised.”

Clement called data scientists “superheroes” and advised parents to push children to study in this area.

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