09 Jun 2017

Dealing with disruption: SWISS adopts automated rebooking

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is laying claim to being the first airline in the world to adopt a fully automated and customized system to rebook passengers whose travel plans are disrupted by flight cancelations.

Speaking at the Amadeus Airline Executive Summit in Dublin, Jan-Christian Schraven, VP operations for SWISS, said the airline brought the new system online on 6 March. This was exactly the target date SWISS and Amadeus, its IT partner, had planned for the new system to go live, so it was “delivered on time”, he said.

Happily for the airline it saw no flight cancelations for the next four days, said Schraven, but on 10 March SWISS had to cancel a Boeing 777-300ER flight from Canada and it decided to use that opportunity to bring the new disruption-rebooking tool into operation for the first time

The results represented a dramatic improvement over the airline’s previous system of rebooking manually all the passengers from a canceled flight, according to Schraven, in explaining why SWISS had evolved its flight-disruption management activities to the stage of adopting a completely automated rebooking tool.

Several years ago SWISS had decided to try to improve its canceled-flight rebooking process. “We were reactive, but we wanted to be proactive, to predict what could happen to passengers,” says Schraven. When rebooking passengers from canceled flights caused by a general operational disruption such as a severe weather event, “you need to be quick”. This is because other carriers also canceling flights as a result of the same event immediately compete to rebook passengers onto any other flights offering alternative ways of getting their passengers to their destinations. So if an airline is slow to rebook its passengers from canceled flights, it will lose out to more nimble competitors in trying to rebook on any flights on which those competitors can place rebooked passengers.

The first step SWISS took was to have the staffers in its Passenger Control Unit sit next to its operations control employees so they could “understand what is going wrong very early in the process and think about how to make things better for passengers”. Nevertheless, manual rebooking of all passengers on other flights used to take its Passenger Control Unit about two hours to accomplish.

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Source : Runway Girl Network | Kirby Media Group

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