How has the airline industry changed? For most, it hasn’t changed nearly enough. Here’s why the industry is ripe for disruption.

According to a 2021 article from McKinsey, airlines are poised to experience five major changes after the pandemic. Among those changes, we will see a greater disparity in performance between airlines.

The solution? For one, invest in technology. “Becoming better can necessitate investment,” the authors write. “Even though many airlines find themselves in financial straits, we recommend investing more in IT and digitalization, not less.”

Beyond improving the customer experience with better check-in and boarding processes, carriers need to invest in “analytics, which involves, among other efforts, using data in smarter ways to enhance decision making, requiring some investment but yielding significant payoffs.”

Many people in our industry are starting to realize just how much opportunity there is for new technologies to improve how we do things. To demonstrate why it’s time for airlines to start emphasizing the use of technology in our processes, let’s take a look at the history of another industry.

How Has the Airline Industry Changed? Let’s Compare Air Travel to Auto Manufacturing

One way to see how far the airline industry still has to go is to look at the history of automobile manufacturing.

Henry Ford’s major contribution to auto manufacturing was the conveyor belt assembly line system. Thanks to this innovation in the early 20th century, instead of hauling their tools from car to car or alternatively towing each vehicle along the line, assembly line workers could stand in one place while each car came to them, which increased production substantially.

Fast forward a few decades and robots were already a part of the picture. Since the 1950s, car manufacturers have used automation on the assembly line to assist with production. In 1961, General Motors installed their own version of a robotic manufacturing arm. Then in 1969, Victor Scheinman, a Stanford Engineer, created a six-axis robotic arm that could assemble different parts in a repetitive pattern.

Still, even with the introduction of all this technology, human employees did the majority of the work on the line.

For some car manufacturers today, the opposite is true—the majority of the work is now automated. For instance, Tesla uses up to 200 different robots that complete various tasks on its assembly line.

Compared to how far auto manufacturing has come, airlines need to start embracing available technologies. Not much has changed in the last 40 years. For example, if you were to look at how airlines handled boarding and baggage loading in the 1980s, the only significant difference would be the fashion. The processes were, for the most part, exactly the same.

How Airlines Can Stay Competitive

Airlines today need to deliver value to customers if they want to stay competitive. Delays, cancelations, and inefficient processes are three of the biggest criticisms passengers have levied against airlines. If airlines can find a way to reduce delays and cancelations, as well as improve their overall processes, including turnaround time and ground operations, they will be well-situated to stay ahead of their competitors.

Are you ready to bring your airline’s processes up to speed? Request a demo or contact us at 844-505-4496 to learn how our AI technology can help you give your customers what they want.


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