The aviation sector is undergoing a period of stellar growth, yet there are clouds on the horizon too. In this interview, Conztanz’s CEO Bertrand Kientz analyses the challenges facing aviation and looks at how data can provide an essential tool in navigating these obstacles while also helping to make the most of new opportunities.
Bertrand Kientz, CEO of Conztanz
At first glance, the outlook for the airline industry appears to be very healthy. Global revenue reached an enormous $824 billion in 2018 and passenger numbers are set to keep growing, reaching as many as 7.8 billion by 2036. Yet behind this rosy picture, the industry faces some serious challenges to its long term success.
For example, having more passengers will always be welcome news for the aviation industry. Nonetheless, Bertrand Kientz, CEO of Conztanz highlights some of the hazards of this trend too: “On current forecasts, airports will need to double their capacity to handle all these new passengers. One option would, of course, be to build more airports, yet there’s very little support for this among the general public.” While the world wants to fly more, they don’t want more noisy airports near their homes.
Besides these issues with capacity, there are also great challenges for offering personalised experiences, new legislation the industry must comply with, as well as dealing with border security issues.
But the good news is that solutions are within reach. “Whether it is baggage management, airport fluidity or safely processing customers through airports, there is a huge opportunity for intelligent data management to help resolve these problems”. By using more data more effectively, the airline industry can prepare for the many challenges on the horizon. The trick will be in developing strategies to do this effectively.
Mr Kientz explains that the aviation sector is increasingly turning to data management solutions to solve its major challenges. For example, in 2018 Conztanz and the state of Luxembourg developed a close partnership to help the country resolve a major compliance challenge:
“The EU’s new PNR (Passenger Name Record) legislation required airlines and states to share information about passengers in order to help detect any criminal or terrorist passengers. However, smoothly collecting and processing this information was extremely challenging. But, by deploying our API-PNR gateway, Luxembourg was able to safely and securely connect and process this data in compliance with the new law”.
Conztanz’s API-PNR gateway was designed to be used by any airline and for countries in the EU and beyond who wish to enhance border security. By providing cutting edge data management solutions, Conztanz’s work shows how the industry can use data more effectively to resolve compliance challenges.
Another major challenge the industry has been facing in recent years is around offering personalised services to passengers. Unlike other sectors such as retail or tourism, the airline industry has really struggled to provide a personalised offering to its customers - largely thanks to the way in which data about customers tends to be siloed and stored in different locations.
But, once again, this is an area where intelligent data management can help. Mr Kientz explains that the industry is waking up to the need to offer more personalized service to passengers: “It is gradually becoming a top airline priority”.
Throughout 2018 Conztanz continued to enhance the ConztanzOne platform which helps airlines with their drive towards providing passengers with a more personalised experience: “Our customers can now provide passengers with offers which match their context in real-time, depending on airline data. This allows them to provide a whole new level of personalisation which is unparalleled in the industry”.
It’s clear that using more data is going to be one of the most effective ways airlines can deal with many of the challenges on the horizon. Nonetheless, there are growing amounts of regulation about data and how it’s used - and this could be a real stumbling block.
Mr Kientz highlights the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) as an especially important case, a piece of legislation that came into effect in 2018 that will increasingly affect airlines this year. The GDPR imposes privacy legislation on all organisations that manage personal customer information and requires them to put in place many new policies and safeguards to protect that data - as well as defining what they can and can’t do with it.
“Passengers hand over lots of data to airlines” Mr Kientz explains, “and they want more personal and personalized treatment to match the amount of data they provide”. However, Mr Kientz raises the concern that many airlines, especially smaller operations, are still struggling to adapt to the legislation. “Many fear that they may make costly mistakes if they unintentionally use this personal information in the wrong way”. Therefore, some airlines are “anxious about offering more personal offerings to customers” because of concerns about non-compliance with the GDPR.
Personalised offerings can provide enormous benefits to customers and airlines alike. The key will be for companies to ensure that the platforms they use to manage this data are secure and that their employees and processes are compliant with privacy laws.
Despite the compliance issue, data is becoming an increasingly important tool for solving airline industry challenges, and so Conztanz is upping its game to support more industry players use data in the most effective way. The business is working with a growing list of companies to help solve data issues.
“We recently started an important consulting assignment with UK company Flybe, an airline with over 8 million passengers per year, to conduct a complex migration programme by using parts of our platforms to support them as they connect Amadeus to the rest of their systems.” This will be an exciting new stage in Conztanz’s growth, continuing working with one of the biggest names in European air travel.
The firm is also engaging with numerous partners in the airline IT space, which Conztanz approach can effectively complement, eg Switchfly , a …, SAP who provides an airline version of its merchandizing platform, and TTI, a PSS whose solutions support small to mid-size airlines around the world.
As 2019 begins, the need for improving how the aviation industry functions has never been stronger. With more flights and airline passengers predicted to take off than ever before, airlines will need to start getting smart about the way they prepare for a changing future.
For Mr Kientz and Conztanz, data is undeniably one of the most important parts of the solution. By using data better, the aviation industry will be able to respond to the challenges of rapid change and expansion - and allow them to make the most of these exciting new opportunities.