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New Amadeus study: Majority of aviation leaders expect flight disruption to remain elevated

Flight disruptions are 300% above historical norms due to skills shortages and surging demand, per Infare1. Amadeus’ study with airline and airport executives highlights a push for technological investments and collaborative efforts to manage and mitigate disruptions, aiming for a smoother passenger experience and operational efficiency.

According to industry data provider Infare, flight disruption, as indicated by schedule changes, remains 300% above historical norms as the aviation industry continues to grapple with a skills shortage and the rapid return of demand for air travel across every region of the world.

It’s against this backdrop that travel technology company Amadeus has commissioned a major new study ‘Better together: Rethinking how to manage disruption in aviation’ with senior airline and airport executives to understand the scale of the challenge and how they plan to reduce the impact of disruption for passengers.

The majority of airline and airport executives surveyed (52%) said their organizations are currently experiencing more disruption than in 2019, compared to a third reporting less. With more industry leaders expecting disruption to remain elevated, taking action to mitigate the impact has become a top priority.

“In 2022 airlines struggled with supply and staffing issues, but during 2023, airlines and their partners are simply facing an unprecedented return of demand. Of course, that’s very welcome, but it brings its own operational challenges,” said Harry Grewal, Director of Infrastructure and Customer Experience, IATA

Key insights from the study include:

• 64% of airlines are investing in new technology to improve their response to disruption
• The top reason for airline investment was to ‘improve our public image’ at 70%, well ahead of ‘to reduce costs’ at 34%
• Airlines point to the need for ‘closer integration of our operational systems to gain a holistic view disruption’ as the top capability to improve their response
• Airport leaders reported a ‘lack of common technology that brings stakeholders together’ as their top challenge when responding to disruption (50%)
• A third of airport leaders pointed to ‘last minute provision of information from airlines’ as a persistent challenge.
• All airports surveyed confirmed they are planning to invest in technology at their Operational Control Centers to better manage disruption. A quarter plan to do so in the next 12 months.

Holger Mattig, SVP Product Management, Amadeus Airport & Airline Operations, said: “Disruption is a hugely complex problem that requires airlines, airports, ground handlers and others to work collaboratively. Unfortunately, we still have too many information silos in aviation, which impacts the overall response and ultimately passengers. However, I do sense a real determination across the industry to put historic commercial tensions to one side and deliver a better, more joined-up and traveler-centric approach to disruption that’s empowered by shared technology. At Amadeus, we are happy to contribute to this stronger ecosystem collaboration across people and technology, allowing for more efficient airport operations and a smoother end-to-end passenger experience”.

The topical study investigates the technical, organizational and commercial barriers to better disruption management whilst identifying the passenger experience, cost reduction and reputational risk as catalysts for change. Drawing on in-depth interviews with leaders from organizations including Air France, SAS, Western Sydney International Airport and Queen Alia International Airport, the report spotlights several major new initiatives. Aviation executives outline projects to improve how passengers are re-accommodated, how to better re-plan non-air aspects of the trip and how to deliver a more joined-up operational response between airlines, airports, and ground handlers.

* “Flight disruption” is defined as “situations where a scheduled flight is cancelled, or delayed for two hours or more, within 48 hours of the original scheduled departure time”. Source: ICAO (International Civil Aviation Authority)

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.