Okay, so I am again looking around for a new consulting assignment or a permanent job. Having helped Yulia to establish CheckIn.com, we are about to finish the work on the dashboard redesign supporting route level analysis and have first (successful) tests of the related analyses, so we’re confident to have those before Winter. By the end of the year we also expect to have reviewed the North American data and apply the necessary corrections, expanding the coverage there.
As my readers know, I am not “academic”, as far as it is about a university degree. All I have is a three year business education in Whole Sale & Foreign Trade Economics with a German Chamber of Commerce degree, similar to the integrated degree program. Which poses a difficulty finding a decent job in Europe. Not so easy if you don’t “fit the box” of a cogwheel. Being interdisciplinary, a fire fighter, doesn’t make the fit into a box any easier.
But I just happen to look at some quotes that keep popping up on LinkedIn…
My preferred one for many years:
Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates didn’t finish university.Still, there are people like Marisa Meyer at Yahoo (former Google), disqualifying good and successful people only because they didn’t graduate…
Recently I read former German Minister for Scientific Research Heinz Riesenhuber saying “The only difference between German Trainee program (Berufsausbildung) and the Dual Study system is that only the latter gets a university degree.” Having qualified after three years with a non-university degree in Whole Sale & Foreign Trade Economics, I’ve worked at the edge of creative developments and shared my knowledge as guest lecturer at universities. I’ve been speaker at international events. But i.e. at Lufthansa I don’t even have to apply as they demand a university degree; might be agriculture at that I am told…
This statement be Robert Kuok, the richest man in Malaysia fits a quote by Steve Jobs, late founder and brain behind Apple.com:
As I mention frequently in interviews, most of my business life I was hired as a fire fighter. Sometimes I was allowed to change things and usually then those things succeeded. At other times, I was hired as the scape goat. Just recently … Naaaw. Let’s not dig into that open wound ツ But being the eternal optimist, I learned that there’s a solution to any problem.
Extinguishing fires for the past 30 years turned me into a creative, interdisciplinary but optimistic aviation expert with my own network of aviation experts helping me where I get stuck. It allowed me to speak at top level aviation events on IT, business travel, analysis, usability and design, A-CDM (operations), marketing and other issues. Frequently about how pieces fit into the puzzle. As a consultant, I’m called to oversee projects in aviation that sometimes impose a lot of change to the people. Related mostly to marketing, analysis, distribution, operations, interfaces and other such issues.
So these quotes above are simply examples, making me confident that I will find my next challenge where I can make a change.
This is the question I got confronted with this week, triggering me to think in more detail about it.
As you may remember, I have written a few introductions posts about A-CDM. I still believe in A-CDM and think it is something airports should implement, but much more important, airlines should demand – and jointly invest into it with their main airport partners to steer developments in the right direction.
I don’t have any access any more to the base file, but as a result on the presentation of the Zurich case study I’ve put together for WinterOps.ca, I focused on the “cash” savings, I hadn’t addressed then. We did calculate based on the performance improved expressed on slides 3 and 5 and the underlying data. We used conservative figures from IATA, Eurocontrol and FAA about the cost incurred by delay per minute. Our conservative results for Swiss (airline), the hub carrier at ZRH with a 48% market share in the given winter saved more than 20 million Euros. Even if we consider the delay cost only applicable beyond 15 minutes, the savings were above € 10 million (approx $ 13 million then). If you consider the cost to set up the system from scratch and the necessary interfaces, one single harsh winter covers up for the cost.
Similar are the savings on normal operations on the bigger airports and on all the hub airports of reasonable size.
Now my friends in the LinkedIn group CDM@airports celebrate airport Number 20 being A-CDM compliant. And they praise the A-CDM Impact Assessment Study by Eurocontrol. Sorry if I don’t fall into the appraisal and worshiping… The new study again looks very “scientific” at the issue, just “generic” cost savings, no individual example, but such being the argument for the CFO (Chief Financial Officer). In my comments, I got the response that it’s “obvious” and the decision makers are expected to understand the cost savings intuitively. Sorry there, in my experience even when you push their nose on the $ or € amounts they tend to come up with the hen/egg principle. Why should they invest into it, what’s their benefit? And guess what: They’re right!
We got to answer that question to promote the issue.
There’s also a nice animated video about the European ATM master plan linked to the issue. Though looking at the key deliverables, I don’t find the cost savings they promote in the video. It’s again “scientific view point” where executives are to understand the cost savings from the operational improvements. But that’s exactly the point. In my experience, these chief something officers do not spend the time to think that step on their own. As such. Without some company investing into a presentation to convert those operational improvements into cash savings, why would someone want to invest into it?
But the main two questions are: What’s the cost saving for me and who should invest and why? Those questions are not properly addressed I believe.
To rephrase the first question:
Who benefits and what’s the numbers?
So Swiss at Zurich benefited from an investment by Zurich Airport in the range of what? 20 Million? In one winter alone. But Swiss did not invest. Zurich Airport is. And most airline managers I talk to go “it’s an airport thing”. Sorry. If you’re an airline operations manager and you don’t get the point, you might be over your head on operations and have no vision for your own business’s development. Understandable if you’re a small airline. Not very professional if you work for one of the big shots.
At the right, there’s the “cost savings” slide from the A-CDM Impact Assessment. Back in 2004, the DOT averaged a delay minute with $ 100, more recent figures from Eurostat, IATA or other sources are sometimes substantially higher. The study even addresses the total savings on the fuel side. though 26.8 million on 2.2 million departures don’t sound much. What misses is the amount of delays those 2.2 million departures accumulated. Then you can break it down. Or where and when those delays arose (i.e. during winter operations? ATC delays?
There’s also something we call the A-CDM delay. When flights do not leave “on time”, due to A-CDM constraints. Such your flight could have left “punctual” but sitting duck on the taxi way due to traffic jam. Instead, A-CDM keeps the flight at the gate until the A-CDM system needs it for the now jam-free departure. That’s a change in paradigms! But it’s better for everyone, so you better find a way to solve the resulting repercussions (and yes, there are ideas).
The main benefit is to the airline! Secondary benefit is to the more punctual airport, also thanks to a usual increase in “capacity”. Though it might be noteworthy that even London Heathrow found good reason to invest into A-CDM solutions.
Who should invest – and why?
There’s two opinions I was confronted over the course of the past two years. Airlines believe, that this is a “single airport issue” and should be the concern of the airport. Whereas most airport managers question, why they should invest, if the airline benefits in dollars & cents from the development. O holy dear St. Florian…
There were some good approaches as to implement the technology and charge the airline for the savings. That simply does not work, as usually there’s not a single effort to improve punctuality and airlines after tend to question the cost savings to result from that investment. Or airline managers sit back and expect the airport to be interested to provide improved punctuality. Whereas some airports openly questioned that they make more money from delayed passengers than from punctual ones. And as long as it’s not the airport to blame, why should they care too much?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve either. That is an issue, I believe must be addressed by the players on a global scale! That A-CDM Impact Assessment Study was a good idea, just from a practical point of view a lousy execution. It is my honest believe that airline operations managers must understand that they got to demand A-CDM at their hub airports in order to improve on-time performance for the better of their own network. And airline and airport must find a way to benefit both on an investment. The current trend to have the airport pay and the airline to pick the raisins and savings is neither fair, nor does it help to promote comprehensive A-CDM deployment.
That also means that the airline has to invest into their OCCs (Operations Control Centers) to exchange data with the other players as explained in my post APOC, OCC, NMOC and A-CDM.
After my bad experience with the accesses to “articles” on LinkedIn (versus own blog), where LinkedIn reaches around 80 unique visitors in a week and then dead silence, compared to 300-400 unique visitors on the blogs also on the older articles… We’ve just run a campaign on LinkedIn focused to special interest groups to promote the package with TIAS. It’s quite a proof how much more worth it is to attend conferences and meet and speak to people. I expected to be “out of budget” within max a week… Six weeks later, it still runs.
For many years we used Asus products, being very often the best products in tests and doing their job.
Starting with the first Netbook (eeePC 1002H, 2008), a home WiFi-router (RT-N56U, 2010) or more recently a “Zenbook” UK31A (2012), winner of many awards by the computer press. Now we got that one just back in winter 2012/13 when we moved to Braunschweig. Just two years later, ASUS decided not to support the upgrade to Windows 10. Drivers are missing and you are warned to not upgrade! That meets the experience in winter 2013/14, when within four weeks after the end of the one-year warranty the jack for the power connector broke… Sent in to ASUS, they offered a replacement of the motherboard “and other connectors” to repair it at a cost of 850 € (new price was 1.100 €). We had a friend take it to Moscow and take it there to a large, well-reputed repair shop. It was less than 50 € to ship it to our friends and back and the repair. And we received the notice, this now should hold, it would be a known “weak point” of the Zenbooks…
Compared to my Dell XPS-12, that got replaced half a year ago after being stolen with the same device and extremely satisfying on-site-support that ASUS didn’t even offer as a paid upgrade…
The WiFi Router also needed replacement by a new one, not because it was slow (the new ones are faster), but mostly because of disruptions. The newer model went back to Amazon having the same problems, now a Linksys OpenWRT-router runs the show.
But especially with this bargain offer for the repair of the Zenbook I must say:
I keep telling people that you have to understand your business model, you got to understand your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP). But then I fall in the same trap. Implying “initial” understanding…
We recently had a discussion on this with […] on CheckIn.com and found them to have a typical misunderstanding, considering us “competitive”… Say what?
So yes, it brings up the question: What’s our USP… And why are we not competitive to anyone? What makes our dashboard “different” (unique)? And why is it so difficult to make professionals understand…?
It seems simple enough.
It’s not the “MIDT”
Current “solutions” focus on flight data (MIDT, etc.). We focus on passenger potentials. And thinking further down the road; our “route level” will focus on commercial relations between the regions, ethnic traffic (VFR, visiting friends & relatives) as well as Tourism (taking into account the hotelrooms per population). We believe (from own airport and route development experience) that flight data is for established routes, but nevertheless require – other – experts to analyze. As they also relate to frequencies, flight times, air fares, reputation, and other “soft factors”.
But we look on the ground.
Own experience: A low cost carrier “cannibalized” a regional aviation route, the regional carrier was forced out. A year later, the route was dead. For the flight profile was on a double daily, small airplane, business travel. The low cost tried triple weekly, big aircraft, low fares, tourists. Sorry, no tourists that route…
So don’t put us in the box “passenger review”. This is new. Our tools are especially useful on routes without any previous flight operations, without comparable flights from neighboring airports. When “MIDT & Co.” leave you in the blind.
The Isochrones People
It’s not really about Isochrones either (though we call ourselves The Isochrones People). Where common Isochrones usually are results of more or less creative guesswork and simply look at how far you get in 30, 60, 90 minutes driving from the airport, their source data is usually on county level or worse, often the figures do not compute with our own findings – not even close. So what’s the source and do you trust it?
Just some examples from public sources, what we had to deal with:
It took us four years (out of five) to compile our data sources, test, throw away, dig into them, correct them (usually very much) and compile the sources in a way we can reuse them without too much work. Because every year there are changes, communities merging, splitting, renaming, …
Find solutions to calculate mass drive times. Where the commercial services limit to 1 million requests a year (at a fortune), we have that number in a few weeks. So we use commercial “standalone” solutions like the logistics industry uses, but still – running a country takes some days of pure computing time.
Still having some bugs, using commercial software for the mapping caused the maps to be close to unusable in Eastern Europe. Not professional for sure. So we had to relaunch. Now we use Open Street Map with a mix of their data and mapping data we receive from the countries. Which differ from what the commercial map providers sold us, but “suddenly” and to our expressed delight fit the statistical sources we use. And the bugs we solve one by one.
Wonder why no-one did our stunt before? Wonder why we think no-one (in his/her right mind) will? Above is your answer. But was that really necessary?
Eyesight for the Blind…
From our experience and that of the experts out there supporting us (airlines, airports, and their consultants), we know there is need for understanding the local customer base. And highly expensive, often outdated analyses of questionable quality at exorbitant prices. So yes, we think our services are needed. And if you don’t use them, you remain blind on one eye.
So what’s our USP again?
We’re not just polishing your Crystal Ball as I keep saying. We expand your vision and understanding to what’s truly important. But wasn’t yet available for no-one dared to address the complexity behind it. So trust the airport they know their market? The best you could do. Now we do better. We qualify their impressions with hard data.
And we make it comparable.
And that’s why we don’t compete with the flight data providers. We do something new. We do the other side of business. The hard one ツ