The key stakeholder benefits of data sharing in the aviation industry

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Data is often referred to as the new oil of today. As the average passenger journey concerns between eight and 10 collaboration partners, it is not only data but rather cross-silo data sharing which becomes a hot topic in aviation, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis.

By data sharing we mean integrating data stems into a richer conglomerate of information which can be commonly accessed under consideration of binding data usage rights. According to the 2018 Everis Global study on data sharing between companies in Europe, commissioned by the European Commission, nearly four in 10 companies in the European Economic Area regularly share and re-use data. This appears not to be the case yet in aviation, but why?

The problem is that airlines and airports traditionally do not share customer information with each other. However, in order to provide a seamless travel experience to the one common customer, all stakeholders must abandon their outdated silo thinking. Many of the pain points that exist today from a customer perspective, such as queuing at security, crowding and baggage reclaim wait times, can be overcome by leveraging shared data.

The commonly felt pain points can be tackled by selective use cases with equally common operational and financial gain points. Quantifiable benefits in almost all data sharing cases relate to an acceleration of the customer journey, more time in commercial areas and therefore an increased use of non-aeronautical services. Here are three use cases:

Flexible security lanes. Airport, airline and security screening providers integrate data on daily expected passengers, number of passengers already checked in and number already screened. Complemented by video analytics data, they can flexibly open and close security lanes as needed. A shorter stay at the security check and thus an effective increase of the dwell time per passenger in commercial areas bear revenue potential.
At a representative mid-scale airport, an 8-10% yearly increase in non-aeronautical revenue can be attained.

Heat-sensed retail slots. Using a variety of techniques, ranging from heat sensing to video analytics, information about queue times can be generated and shared by the airport. Given that data usage complies with established principles, airlines can generate push notifications that lead passengers to less crowded areas. Comparable to flexible security lanes, the optimized utilization of retail slots results in accelerated customer journeys and more time for shopping which can increase annual non-aeronautical revenues by an additional 3%.

Reading the conveyor belt. Time can also be gained at the end of the journey. With a platform that integrates baggage data between airlines, the airport and its ground handling agents, real-time status information of every luggage item can be made available. Besides an increase in customer experience, this would optimize operations and reduce baggage mishandling. Mid-scale airports, such as Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, are pioneering in this field. This has the potential to increase annual revenues by up to an additional 10%, subject to relevant offers.

Key industry players such as London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Lufthansa Group have paved the way for data sharing. But is it worth it? The foundation for success is laid within a preliminary study in which a critical mass of eight to 12 use cases is prioritized and evaluated for business relevance. With an average development time of two to three years for all use cases and total costs of up to €4m (US$4.8m), at least 50% of the use cases should have a potential for profit. Under the assumption that use cases are already gradually implemented during development, an ultimate ROI of up to 10% in year four seems realistic. 

Cross-silo data sharing has the power to generate quantifiable benefits that meet stakeholder needs and requirements, and create perspectives in the current challenging times.

This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of Passenger Terminal World.

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