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Air operations, Expert view

How lack of digital alignment results in poor performance for regional and alliance partnerships

August 2, 2021

Airlines that want to offer comprehensive routes to increase revenue see partnering with alliances as an approach that still provides them with a lucrative slice of the revenue share.

By Jim Hetzel, Head of Product Management, Cirium

Airlines are now trying to do more with less. They need to drive operational costs down to preserve cash. Some carriers are doing so by moving short and medium haul flights operations to regional/wetlease airlines that can operate selected routes on their behalf. They also look to joint venture partnerships or the global alliances, such as oneworld, Star Alliance and Sky Team, to extend their reach. While keeping costs down remains mission critical, those airlines that want to offer comprehensive routes to increase revenue see partnering with alliances as an approach that still provides them with a lucrative slice of the revenue share. The trouble is that both types of partnerships also present airlines with fresh challenges.

What are the friction points with partnerships?

While partnerships on the regional or global level provide many cost and revenue benefits, the approach is not without its challenges. The key issues relate to a lack of alignment in terms of approach and actual performance, operationally and from a customer service perspective. When appointing partners and figuring out their strategies for delivery of services, the big questions airlines need to consider are:

  • Are their prospective partners’ flights on time?
  • Do they offer similar levels of customer service?
  • Can they co-ordinate their flights well?
  • Do their schedules match well?
  • Can they provide a consistent customer experience across partner flights?

Regional partnerships, or wet lease relationships, are cost driven while alliance or joint venture partnerships are revenue driven. But these frictions points can and do apply to both. The big challenge is to ensure their partners deliver a seamless level of service. This includes customer communications. For example, a global airline may offer a dynamic mobile app that is highly rated by passengers for mainline flights.  However, the apps leave travelers struggling to locate the connecting gate on the partner leg of their journey because the partner airline lacks the ability to cross-share partner flight information. This creates a fragmented and sometimes stressful experience for the traveler.

How can airlines provide seamless operations?

The vital question is: how does data flow? And by that, I mean both intra-company and between the partners. Optimizing both the airline operations and the customer experience are of equal importance. Airlines must look at coordinating passenger handling, operations, and communications through mobile services. They must talk partner to partner and seamlessly with customers.

What data and insights do airlines need to improve performance?

Airlines need to substantially enhance their planning capabilities. To create resiliency in schedules, they must ensure all  partners collaborate on a coordinated plan and schedule of flights.

It’s vital to reassess data sources and invest in a solution that delivers a 360-degree view of flights from a single trusted source,  with analytics that provide a comprehensive historical and real-time understanding of both the schedule and status of flight operations. This must include granular detail on what’s happening now and in the event of disruption, the context of what’s happening now, whether it’s bad weather or an air traffic control slow down.

Those airlines that operate in silos and utilise multiple sources of data experience the biggest challenges and struggle most when it comes to establishing consistency in quality of service.

How does Cirium Sky for Air Ops solve these challenges?

The Cirium Sky for Air Ops solution was not only designed to enable real-time business intelligence for airlines but also seamless data flow between airlines and their regional and alliance partners.

Another ground-breaking innovation is our post-flight analysis provision. This enables performance benchmarking and allows operations teams to get a clear view on what equates as good compared to its peers – and gain a competitive edge.  What are the patterns and trends? We provide in-depth insights on trends by season, by time of day and by types of inclement weather.

Our mission is to make sure that data flows fluently across organizational silos and among strategic partners. Our comprehensive service line delivers a single source of truth for flight status, aircraft status, weather, and air traffic events to greatly improve planning and heighten situational awareness.

How valuable is expert customer support for airlines?

We manage the data on behalf of the airline. Our service level agreement has made our solution even more attractive – it gives airlines confidence and comfort and guarantees a certain level of up time.

And time is money. Airlines told us their teams were spending 80% of their time sourcing and cleaning data leaving little time for actual analysis. Cirium can shift that balance in favor of analysis, allowing airline operations teams to immediately focus on generating insights – in a matter of days not months! Cirium Sky is designed to make data flow freely. You can quickly connect, instantly create dashboards leveraging existing tools, integrate data with legacy systems and get down to the serious business of optimizing all aspects of planning, operations, and analysis for effective and profitable partnerships.


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