An industry that felt a near immediate and drastic impact from COVID-19 was the air-travel industry. With the COVID-19 measures and bans, a large part of air traffic, mostly passenger but also cargo, has come to a near standstill across the globe. Air traffic has historically been cyclical, closely following the regional and global economic growth metrics, and it had experienced unexpected downturns during or after tragic events like 9/11. However, it has never been hit by an incident of this magnitude that led to reports by TSA of less than 1% of the amount of travelers going through airport security year over year from this time in 2019 to now.
Take Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson a once bustling airport and one of the world’s largest and busiest hubs has now reported massive losses. According to the airport’s general manager, John Selden, “Revenue is probably down, off the top of my head, 50 to 60%,” he also added, “we usually have 2,600 flights a day here, fully loaded. In other words, almost no seats available. Right now, we’re down to 1,200 flights and they’re mostly empty.” The airport is down 85% in passengers.
While there is no clear picture on when air traffic will recover, looking at the TSA reports there is a clear increase in travel during the month of May thus far, at least in the US. Domestic markets are expected to be opened first, following the example in China. However, consumer confidence and regaining the trust of travelers will be integral to the timing and speed of industry recovery.
According an IATA-commissioned survey, 40% of passengers say they will wait 6 months or more before traveling. The recovery will also depend on the financial outlook as a prolonged global recession will dampen demand for air traffic further.
The uncertainty surrounding travel is leaving many leaders to wonder,
“How can we ever recover from this?”
The answer lies in the application of Artificial Intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence-led initiatives will provide a helpful remedy to the negative impacts of the COVID-19-led disruption and will also inform post-COVID-19 operating models as they are developed and tested. As for many other industries, it is imperative to recovery for airports to fast-track AI-led initiatives in these times of increased operational uncertainty and unforeseen structural changes.
In the short to medium term, AI will help airports minimize their operational costs by increasing resource efficiency according to operational demand and reducing maintenance costs through predictive preventative maintenance, and maintain, possibly even enhance, their standards of operations with a reduced workforce through its autonomous application. In turn, greater flexibility will be provided to airports which had been forced to suspend terminal and runway capacity and reduce workforce as an immediate response to the loss of air traffic, particularly as some of the travel demand returns over the next few months.
In the medium to long term, AI will inform future operating models as airports will develop and test new ways to run every bit of their operations from car parks to passenger gates. Insights gained by AI will add a strategic value to airports as they plan for their future.
Businesses that successfully and swiftly adopt to automated, autonomous applications of AI and rethink their business models will be the ones realizing a competitive advantage once we return to normalcy. Contact our team today to harness the power of Elutions’ Artificial Intelligence Solutions.
Up Next: AI & COVID-19: Transformation