The Changing Face of the Aviation Industry by Paul Richi

Aviation continues to evolve and change from one day to the next. Those who welcome disrupters appreciate the power of the consumer, and clearly, understand their role and niche in the market place will, in most cases, excel and prosper.

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Airports

Without effective air connectivity, the local community will often be disadvantaged as to attracting and maintaining its share of industry, trade, tourism and sustained economic health. Local communities who see,  understand and embrace the value of their local area airport improve their quality of life as people and goods easily flow into and through their town or city along with the related spinoffs.

Smaller airports, in particular, are well equipped to enable joint business opportunities from a flight school, aircraft maintenance training, MRO (Maintenance Repair and Overhaul), aircraft part manufacturing services and business aircraft preferred points of call to reach local area business units.  A well run flight school can attract out of town students that need accommodation, meals and entertainment within the local area, a whole new stream of business. MRO’s are looking for highly skilled tradespersons that earn excellent salaries that also filter back into the local community.

Leading airport operators proactively manage environmental challenges in partnership with the local community gain and then maintain a social license to operate the airport while mitigating factors such as glycol runoff, stormwater management, aircraft noise and air pollution.  

Attracting and then holding on to targeted scheduled air service is in itself a unique opportunity and challenge. Airlines need to obtain the greatest return possible on their expensive assets. It’s not so much about market share, rather about per flight profitability and fare yield. Smaller and mid-sized airports often work cooperatively to encourage local area members of the public to use the service rather than drive to another airport to catch a flight while also looking for ways to mitigate direct costs borne by the airline.

Airlines

Consolidation of the industry in many parts of the world is picking up speed. Airlines strive for economies of scale and a route system that stands up against others competing for passengers, including hubs where one or two carriers and their partners maintain their dominance.

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Leading carriers understand who they are and the “why” a potential passenger will choose their offering vs another carrier.  Customer service, coupled with the customer choosing from competitive fare and service level offerings is standard practice within the larger industry.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help mine the vast amount of information gathered is so very critical to better enable more proactive steps, especially during weather disruptions and for future route planning.

A lapse in safety or security can do untold harm to the industry. As the business grows and becomes even more complex and demanding a solid SMS and Security program must be well embedded into the DNA of the carrier.

Aviation Regulators

Many experienced staff members are retiring along with staffing budget cutbacks the regulator is often well challenged to proactively fulfil their role to oversee the safety and security of the industry. Perhaps a whole new approach needs to be undertaken to avoid being overtaken by this wave of knowledge and resource loss.

Should the regulator look to greater use of AI, training support from leading industry subject matter experts who are on a consignment basis for a set period with specific knowledge effectively transferred to new younger incoming agency staff? Do government agencies understand the potential consequences to members of the flying public should a potential oversight happen?

Potential Industry Disrupters

How might autonomous vehicles benefit complex airside operations or supplement manual tasks such as the loading of baggage carts and containers with baggage within the terminal complex?  Can passenger baggage be shipped independent of the passenger and be waiting for them at their hotel room or home? Will biometrics and new security screening technology largely eliminate today’s processes, thereby freeing up terminal floor space for alternate utilization? Younger consumers are looking for more self-control over their journey from online booking to the return home after a vacation two weeks later. Will the industry be able to partner together to meet the expectation of a well informed and connected consumer?

Conclusion

Airports, airlines and regulators need to work hand in hand to stay one step ahead of the wave of evolution and change that is picking up speed or risk being less relevant, competitive, safe or secure.  The need to understand how you fit into the industry, what you need to do to be a valued partner in the service or supply chain process is a complex and time-sensitive one that will be best supported with the help of a consultant.  Act now before the risk of not doing so results in a negative impact on your business or area of responsibility. To learn more, please contact paul.ritchi@avconww.com

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