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ANA  —  the most On-Time airline in the world

ANA benchmarks its key operational metrics including on-time performance with intelligence derived from Cirium’s aviation analytics. Cirium’s real-time data, from forward and retrospective schedules, to flight status and fleet information, is helping the airline optimize schedules and route planning, improve the passenger experience and minimize disruptions.

These tools provide real-time analytics derived from over 300 terabytes of information across 2,000 data sources that are normalized, stored and ready for rapid access, allowing the airline to make informed commercial and operational decisions. Learn more in our Q&A below.

Q: Looking back last year, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, ANA consistently achieved a very high on-time arrival rate, winning across 4 categories in Cirium’s 2021 On-time Performance Review. How has the digitalization of operations helped ANA to achieve this remarkable performance?

Yuji Hirako, CEO, ANA
Yuji Hirako, CEO, ANA

Our ANA operations team is customer-oriented, and they all work together to deliver the quality service our customers expect. Customer and employee safety and reliability are our priorities. These are aligned with the fundamental qualities air transport businesses focus on, namely: safety, on-time performance, comfort, and convenience.

In Cirium’s 2021 On-Time Performance Review, ANA, ANA Wings and Air Japan, as a group ranked first in the Global Network Category, and ANA by itself ranked first in the Global Mainline Category. ANA also ranked first in the Asia-Pacific regional categories. This achievement exemplifies how our operational staff took extra effort to maintain on-time performance. We are proud of this achievement, and we’re thrilled that more customers will now see ANA flights as reliable and on-time.

Like many other airlines, ANA is working to digitalize its operations. We have been increasingly systematizing many of our operational processes, and along with this, we will continue to promote digitalization.

Yuji Hirako, CEO, ANA standing in a hangar in front of an ANA airplane.
Yuji Hirako, CEO, ANA

Aside from digitalizing our internal systems, we have also taken special care in digitalizing communications with our customers. This has enabled us to deliver personalized notifications related to flight status and boarding information straight to the customers’ smartphones. This includes advanced boarding notifications for reserved flights with predicted levels of congestion within the boarding and security clearance areas. Customers can now come to the airport ahead of their scheduled flight time to avoid crowds—a feature that proved especially important during the height of COVID-19. In major transportation hubs like Haneda Airport, we also now provide notifications when a departure gate is relatively far from the security clearance area. By providing these tailored information for our customers, we gain their understanding and cooperation and achieve on-time performance.

By providing tailored information for our customers, we gain their understanding and cooperation and achieve on-time performance.

– Yuji Hirako, CEO, ANA
Airline On Time Performance 2021 winner profile

Download the 2021 On-Time Performance Report

See the stats on ANA’s on-time performance and get to know what makes them the world’s most on-time airline for 2021.

Q: As an advocate of technology and digital transformation, how has data analytics helped in improving the overall operations?

Yuji Hirako
Yuji Hirako

ANA Group formed a team that advocates for on-time performance within operations-related departments across the organization. This team regularly analyzes data, identifies processes that have become bottlenecks and implements measures to address them. For example, when we had a lower on-time performance rate, we reviewed the door-closing time and changed the process to have the door close earlier.

At ANA, we collect operational results and data points from each process. These are stored internally and can be used by anyone across the organization. The on-time performance team, as well as each airport and department, can perform independent data analyses, review their own operations, and address issues. Cirium’s data makes it possible for us to assess our performance against other airlines worldwide.

It’s no secret that we manage over 300 terabytes of aviation data every day, ranging from flight data, to fleet values and aircraft configurations. Having this abundance of data readily available for airlines to use enables them to become flexible and adaptable in their operations, especially now when market changes fluctuate and nothing seems to be certain.

Q: Why do airlines like ANA turn to Cirium for data?

Jeremy Bowen, CEO, Cirium
Jeremy Bowen, CEO, Cirium

Cirium is an aviation analytics company. And when we say aviation analytics, we’re looking at four key layers of data: descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. These data sets aid in measuring and assessing various areas of an airline’s operational process, from scheduling to booking, boarding, take-off and landing, and even maintenance.

Each data set we gather allows airlines to benchmark, monitor and improve their performance internally and against competition – on-time performance is one good example of that. Access to real-time aviation data also enables airlines to quickly identify potential revenue opportunities.

– Jeremy Bowen, CEO, Cirium

It’s no secret that we manage over 300 terabytes of aviation data every day, ranging from flight data, to fleet values and aircraft configurations. Having this abundance of data readily available for airlines to use enables them to become flexible and adaptable All these analyses are even easier to perform when data sets from different sources and areas of an airline’s operations are consolidated into one view. Decision-makers get a 360-degree perspective of their performance, empowering them to make decisions more effectively and efficiently.

Q: How has the pandemic affected ANA’s operations? Are there unique and/or unanticipated challenges?

Yuji Hirako
Yuji Hirako

The most significant impact of COVID-19 was the dramatic decline in travel at the height of the pandemic. This affected the entire airline industry, not just ANA. In compliance with the national COVID-19 measures, ANA had to cancel and/or reduce the number of both international and domestic flights. From an on-time performance perspective, sluggish demand for air travel globally resulted in fewer flights, which led to fewer delays caused by airport and flight route congestions. This allowed many airlines across the industry to achieve a higher on-time performance compared to pre-pandemic levels. Even so, ANA Group worked to reach the highest on-time performance rate globally, achieving 95.28% for Network and 95.04% for Mainline for 2021.

Aviation analytics helps make ANA successful. Woman using sanitizer at an ANA gate. About to board.

COVID-19 has significantly changed the customer mindset around travel. Travelers have become more conscious of the need for hygiene and social-distancing to prevent infection. At ANA Group, we were quick to promote our ANA Care Promise initiative to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by providing clean, hygienic environments in the airports and plane cabins. Maintaining good hygiene and social-distancing measures meant longer times were required for departures and arrivals, but we endeavored to maintain on-time performance. To achieve this, we reviewed our boarding and disembarking processes to keep additional time-required to a minimum. We also adjusted our boarding process to avoid crowding in the cabin before departure and to ensure an overall smooth boarding experience for our customers.

Q: How has Cirium solutions helped airlines manage operations and address challenges presented by the pandemic?

Yuji Hirako
Yuji Hirako

Cirium is unparalleled in scale, collecting data in real-time from over 600 data sources globally. We consider the data to be highly reliable and serves as an important evaluation standard for us. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen dramatic fluctuations in airline flights.

Cirium’s solutions allow us to analyze the varying status of flights for each airline in real-time, allowing for a deeper level of analysis.

– Yuji Hirako
Jeremy Bowen
Jeremy Bowen

Cirium’s mission has always been to provide our customers with the most timely and accurate information. We do this by ensuring that the right data is available where and when it is required efficiently in a way that suits the customer.

Readily available, accurate and real-time data is critical to enable the aviation industry to pivot quickly even in trying times. We’ve seen how aviation data and analytics played a critical role at the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was trying to determine their next course of action. Many questions came up at a time when a historically structured industry became uncertain of the future – what will happen to schedules set 6-8 months from now? Which aircraft should keep flying and which should remain grounded? Could we liquidate a portion of our fleet to keep business afloat?

With Cirium data, airlines, airports and even government agencies had a better way to develop future operational scenarios. They could estimate potential demand based on flight, fleet, passenger, and schedule data through the Diio suite of products, for example.

We continue to question, “when will flights and passenger volumes return to normal?” And as we go through the pandemic, we continue to discover new trends revealed by the new data. One good example of that is how air cargo became an unexpected area of opportunity airline companies could leverage. Understanding these insights quickly, can help airlines make intelligent adjustments in their operations.

Q: How has airline operations changed since the start of the pandemic? What are the biggest areas of opportunity for the digitalization of airline operations?

Yuji Hirako
Yuji Hirako

Due to the pandemic, we are seeing an increased demand for contactless services from customers. This is something we have focused on in the past few years—expanding the automation of personalized customer service offerings for airline flight processes, from airport arrival to boarding and disembarking, as well as handling irregular procedures.

In regards to the digitalization of operations, we are working on digitalizing internal systems and customer communications as mentioned earlier.

We also began offering a new service in our Digital app called My Timeline that allows
users to add destination/tourist locations and restaurants to their scheduled air travel. Travelers can plan their trips on the app before boarding their flights. They can use My Timeline on their smartphones at their destinations to get around more easily, and keep the timeline as a memento upon returning home. These are some examples of how ANA is expanding contactless digital services that allow travelers to personalize all aspects of their journey, from trip planning support to reservations and boarding.

Jeremy Bowen
Jeremy Bowen

Without a doubt, one of the silver linings of the pandemic is how it has accelerated digital transformation in the industry. From contactless check-ins to decreasing the risk of spreading disease among passengers, to enabling more agile operational processes particularly around schedule and route planning and forecasting passenger volumes. Every step of the process that is measurable and has data can and will be optimized to make operations more efficient.

Sustainability is another area gaining strong traction within the industry since the start of the pandemic.

– Jeremy Bowen

Prior to COVID-19, it was arguably the least of many companies’ priorities. Fast-forward to now and we see how it has become one of the key goals of the industry. But how do we measure success within the goal of sustainability if not for data? Measuring carbon emissions, for one, is a challenge that we’ve been working on and will continue to improve on to help airlines meet their respective sustainability goals.

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