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.
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 hurdle finding a decent job in Germany. Not so easy if you don’t “fit the box” of a cogwheel. Being creative, interdisciplinary, a fire fighter, doesn’t make the fit into a box any easier.
Should you happen to seek a creative campaigner, do talk to me please ツ
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.
Following the acquisition by my employer delair by SITA, I was not allowed to maintain a personal blog until our parting of ways in February 2016.
With centralized communications, employees are not encouraged to run personal blogs or activities that are out of the control of the company. To my personal believe and in hindsight, it is an example how SITA uses the new communication channels: They’re stuck in the Industrial Age type and hold on to supply-driven information:
Discussing Airport Development on a general and global scale lately with some renowned influencers in this industry, there were some thoughts, I would like to share today.
Who’s the Customer?
It was rather fascinating to discuss the “customer” issue with airports recently. Though despite we all know that we compete about the passengers, the airline is just as much a customer of the airport as are ground handling companies. As we published in our case study on Zurich’s new deicing management, one of the main cost savings factors, reflecting millions of savings (Euro, Dollar, …) comes from reduction of delay, faster recovery from overall delays or disruptions. With passengers and airlines alike benefiting from “pre-tactical” information.
Keeping the Status Quo
or why only the dead fish swims with the stream? There is a great tendency in our industry today to wait and see “others” and especially “the big ones” to invest in new technologies and try them. And only with many years of delays implement the investment into the own budget plans and maybe get it year(s) later. Be that the use of (free) WiFi at the airports for all customers or CDM developments to the benefit of airport operations – especially under adverse conditions.
Saving, no matter the cost
A common argument against the investment is that the status quo functions. Airlines are i.e. “used” to have major delays during and after winter events. The throughput is lower, flights must be cancelled, after disruptions, the recovery takes time. Zurich having saved +20 million Euros in one season alone by “managed” deicing is a good counter example. With other airports/airlines stalling the implementation of the tool for their airports/terminals “for cost reasons”. Sorry, I will never get used to burning the amounts of money our industry does. We invest into “customer experience” but don’t bother about reducing flight delays.
Collaboration vs. Silo
The global Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) and the Airports Council International have declared Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) a management matter, joining forces in the promotion of the concept. Now airports and airlines alike keep pointing out that they have no common data. A major U.S. airport disqualifying it with the example that they don’t even get an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) or Departure (ETD) from their airlines. They learn of arrivals or departures once the aircraft is on approach or on engine start-up or pushback – thanks to kind information by the tower. The operator of a terminal at one major hub tells us, collaboration won’t work at their airport as the terminal operators strongly competing. Yes, there are workarounds possible (considering the controlled apron/tarmac area “the airport”), but as long as airlines and ground handlers keep up such self-understanding, we are a long way from “effective operations” or even a basic management of delays, disruptions and recovery.
In the discussion, we also talked about airport strategy. New airports are being build without giving consideration to A-CDM or TAMS (Total Airport Management, expanding A-CDM into the land side), but focusing on fancy design. (New) Nordic airports having trouble with the positioning of their deicing pads (also called “Central Deicing Facilities” or CDFs). Space for an “Airport Operations Control Center” (APOC) being later taken from existing office space, instead of pre-planning the necessity. Airport Operators like Avialliance, Vinci or even Fraport (a CDM-airport) focus on CDM locally, instead of considering solutions that improve the airport group. Just some thoughts on the issue as we discussed it and I joggled down my notes…
Okay. So I turned 50 this year. And aside a major C-Check that will make me take additives for lost hardware and discuss health issues with friends and strangers alike? Aside being a dirty old man? Am I useless?
Why should I be?
I still will likely work another 15 years at minimum – maybe 20 or more! Many retirees are still fit to work and get bored if they don’t. The majority of students taking up their first new job will be with the company less than five years in the end. Inexperienced and with low salaries companies invest heavily to train them on the jobs they do (or risk to invest into their mistakes). Whereas you can hire experienced people who know their jobs, make less (costly) mistakes and who have a “knowing” touch, usually good for building trust with new customers or prospects.
Now we also have less and less young people entering the market here in Europe, as well as the U.S. Politicians and commercial bodies paint the picture of lack of junior employees. At the same time, they send their experienced workers home at relatively young age. Or disqualify them as employees as “too expensive” or “less resilient”. It’s the same issue about the demand of an “academic degree” for all employees. Misjudging and neglecting the value of “practical experience”. And yes, that also goes to you Marisa Meyer, whereas I also enjoy similar such personal experience with Lufthansa Group…
What really bugs me about this, is that even renowned entrepreneurs and investors often disqualify older entrepreneurs from their support activities, very often, activities address “young professionals”, “under 30” and enjoy other such limitations. The same is true in talks, where “older” entrepreneurs are faced with far higher “expectations” and demands and still don’t get the investment but “hip” high risk investments by teams without any professional experience do. I believe the time to disqualify experience or “gray hair” are over soon. If companies look for good people, they will have to pay more for the few “young professionals” left, who proof to be less loyal and require more mistakes to become experienced. And I know of too many experienced people as well as honor students leaving “bad paid” aviation or not even interested to start in it, as motivation and loyalty are no one-way-street and other industries simply proof more attractive to them than ours.
Oh… And didn’t I just hear Germany became Champion again? In the f#%@ing lowest birth rate in the world!!! Well, that does confirm my own experience about “political child support” by our self-proclaimed “Christian-Democratic Union” led by our Chancellor Merkel. And no, I do not want to talk about “atomic exit”, Greece or “lobbyism” in Germany today. We just have a family tax system that supports DINKs (double income – no kids), but increasingly forces single parents into poverty. With the demographic results shown. So what was that again about 50+? Im now beyond 50. And happy 😀
Just screening all those wisdoms my friends keep sharing on LinkedIn and Facebook, here one from own experience…
People do not want to admit mistakes.
Developing online booking tools back in the 90s, when no-one (especially not Amadeus, Sabre, etc) believed in it, I learned that lesson good: Business travelers wanted to make the bookings with their travel department. But they wanted to CHANGE the booking themselves (online). Asked, why that is, it was simply that they considered the need to change a booking a “mistake”. No matter if the change was enforced to them. It also showed how important it was to them to keep face with their travel arrangers.
An interview in ATN with Girma Wake, Chairman, RwandAir triggered a question that spooks around for quite a while now.
ATN: Are you afraid that this new environment will bring more low-cost carriers or do you believe that this model does not fit into the African environment? GW: I personally believe that low-cost carriers in the African sense will be very difficult to achieve. First, because the cost of fuel in Africa is high, second there are limited secondary airports in Africa, we all fly from the same airports, and third there are few countries where the traffic density is large enough. If you are paying more for everything, handling, fueling, overflying etc, how can you be a low cost carrier? So the question will have to be modified, may be not so much on the low-cost aspect of it but considers the issue of flying smaller airplanes to smaller airports covering smaller destinations bringing passengers to the major hubs. Such a model will probably work but the low-cost model as it works in Europe and America will take some time to develop in most parts of Africa.
Can a regional carrier with small airlines operate low cost? Can a long haul carrier operate low cost? Why can’t the big ones operate low cost?
Just my idea on that: I truly believe that a small carrier can operate a low cost model. In the beginning the carriers operated large narrow-body like 737-800 or A320 with some 185 seats. More and more, they also operate smaller aircraft like the 737-700 or the A319. And the time the prices were really low are gone as well. In the end you have to cover cost of operations as well as secondary cost like marketing, call center, claims and refunds, taxes and the likes. Not to forget the kerosene as a main cost block, forcing the models to slowly converge. Did I mention Intersky’s regional low-cost operations?
German DLR recently made a study on the fare levels. Comparable flights turned out i.e. an average fare incl. taxes/fees (selected days) like
Air Berlin (AB)
With “low cost” and “traditional” airlines offering about the same price levels, it is about cost of operations and you got to cover your cost – low cost or “old model”.
IHS actually reports on the importance of low cost carriers for the smaller regional airports. With cost savings programs reducing services (and service), the “old carriers” loose quickly ground to the ever-expanding, young and hungry competitors. Where Lufthansa services about any German airport in the past, today Turkish Airlines offers more services to German Airports from Istanbul than Lufthansa from Frankfurt! easyJet (with a large base in Berlin) today operates more aircraft (199) than Air Berlin Group (153). And easyJet has 166 aircraft on order plus 100 options (Air Berlin Group 55 orders).
But easyJet can be booked in the GDS. There website even supports to book multiple flights connecting, which I did myself to the U.K. lately (via LGW). As I keep saying: The difference between Lufthansa or Air Berlin and easyJet is NOT that they are only bookable on the Internet (which is simply not true), but that easyJet doesn’t have legacy systems and processes – for easyJet, they focus on the business case! Where “airline sales” often gives special rates to portals and travel agency chains, easyJet does not see a benefit to sell low. They focus to sell high. So if you negotiate with them, you don’t negotiate competing the cheap fares. Also repeating myself: Anyone can sell “cheap”, you need no sales manager to do that.
And two remarks closing: Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet is known to understand and promote “service” as a unique selling proposition (USP). And WestJet with its Christmas Miracle had clearly a promotion for the WestJet trade mark in mind. While the “established” airlines keep diluting their own trade marks: What again has “Lufthansa” to do with “Germanwings” (Swiss, Austrian, …)? Ain’t they competitors?
Post Scriptum: ANNA.aero just announced axing of Ryanair, mostly of regional routes.
You should not rely on Ryanair for anything more than a door opener to make your airport known… And as an airport and region, you should have a strategy to sustainably place your airport on the “road map” of the global aviation network. That requires a strategy, incoming, route feasibility studies and all that common homework.
Food for Thought
In memoriam: Airline Sales Representatives Association Frankfurt e.V
Having addressed “Airline Sales & e-Commerce” in presentations between 1994 and 2007, I became honorary member in 1999. I have tried to raise awareness for the changes our industry faces but now regretfully have to accept the official disbanding of the association effective August 1st, 2014.
Returning from World ATM Congress in Barcelona (with the IHS Jane’s ATC Innovation Award in my baggage!), I think it’s time to address some feedback on an issue that I keep discussing in LinkedIn and elsewhere: The need to “link” the Airlines Operations Control Center (OCC) and the APOC (Airport Operations Center), the latter being a vital part in A-CDM.
Unfortunately, I see it happening frequently that these “control centers” live in their own little universe with little to no links to their peers. Talking about “Big Data”, Sabre as well as Amadeus and Travelport are “big data players”, though in danger to keep the silo thinking up too long.
Where Sabre once brought global e-Commerce to aviation, back in the 60s, back in the mid-80s, we installed the first Sabre Terminals in European travel agencies, aviation now stumbles behind on the possibilities of global e-Commerce, thanks mostly to technical limitations. As no-one wants to invest… If AA wouldn’t have invested at the time, where would we all be today? But is TPF (Transaction Processing Facility) still the core of our being? Or is it time to move on?
“When we are taught aviation at university we get the impression of how advanced aviation technology really is. When we start working, we are at awe, how little common sense or state-of-the-art is applied in aviation technologies.”
[a student at DLR German Aerospace Agency I recently talked to]
Some keywords what I mean to address here are definitions such as A-CDM (vs. CDM) and Departure – or concepts like Collaboration or Rotation
What is the difference between an Airline Operations Control Center (OCC) and an Airport Operations Center (APOC)? And what about the Air Traffic Control’s Network Management Operations Center (NMOC)? And where is the “collaborative aspect” in these?
Right now, they are just three different data silos and collaboration, where it exists, is on a very small local level.
The OCC focuses to limit the negative impact any disruptions have on the operation of any single aircraft in the fleet. The OCC is – so far – the only point that has a rotational point of view, looking at the entire rotation of the aircraft and trying to minimize the impact of disruptions not just on the flight in question, but for all the ones following that particular “segment” (flight A to B).
With increasing legal demand to reimburse passengers on late or canceled flights beyond the value of their net fare they paid, this is were money for the airline is burned. And impact of disruptions and delays at the airport or in the air space may be a nuisance for the work at the airport or the air traffic controllers, but they have a commercial impact on the airline:
They are expensive.
Nevertheless, I seem to be rather alone in that point of view in discussions. Yes, there is an intellectual understanding at airports and ANSPs, but I have a gut-feeling, that it does not “compute” there really: Or why is it, that many ANSPs are not having their representative in the APOC? Not to talk about direct links yet. Or in the OCC? Or why do many APOCs not have direct (data) links to the OCCs of even their most important airlines?
What is … Departure Time?
One discussion a few days ago addressed the definition of “departure”. And it is such a basic difference in definition, it hit me like a hammer, making me understand the impact of that different perception! When air traffic control talks about departure, they talk about the take-off of the aircraft (ATOT). When the airline and airports talk about the departure, they often talk about the time, the aircraft leaves it’s parking position at the terminal or on the apron, the off-block-time (AOBT). I had trouble, understanding, why an airport should invest into a “Pre-Departure Sequencer” instead of a DMAN in the delair-definition. The difference is based on the same subtle misperception of departure. The PDS and most “DMANs” out there focus on the TOBT, taking somewhat into account the delivery of the aircraft “in time” to the runway. Based on a rather “static” assumption of ATC capacity. The DMAN in delair perception optimizes the “real” departure. Taking into account minimum separation of aircraft, depending on the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) route and other highly complex parameters, the DMAN calculates the best TOBT. Thus, no matter the general disruptions at the airport and the real throughput on the runway by ATC, it delivers as many aircraft as possible for departure. That maximises the throughput and in turn minimizing the recovery time after general delays or disruptions.
All that though happens at the given airport, i.e. Zürich. Talking with airports about departure management, the issue is about always that ATC (the ANSP) does not participate in the departure management, does not provide the needed information and – heresy! – how could we just imply that we could sort out the sequence for the air traffic controller? It works in Zurich? Heresy!
Is A-CDM not an FAA and Eurocontrol requirement? Burn it at the stake!
But now we go a step further…
The impact of the aircraft rotation and why A-CDM is something airlines should consider linking OCC to APOC, consider to spend time though the ANSPs who initiated the entire process are the ones stumbling behind their once shining visions of collaborative approaches:
Because the ANSP thinks in “Silo” and leg (flight from A to B).
A friend just recently told me about a major market, offering free access to the excellent flight-data for all flights within the region to the ANSP of a neighboring region, giving this to be offered in reverse to them. The neighboring ANSP (smaller) is not interested, the data is for sale. And they don’t see the additional value having access to the live flight data offered to them. Excuse me? That is Silo thinking.
And that is, why aviation technology today is way behind other industries. Because there is still silo-thinking. “Collaborative Decision Making” is a nice concept, but it fails real life on a large scale for the narrow-minded thinking of the people who’s job it would be to push the idea! It’s not about the bigger picture, but simply about own benefit. People call that “Greed” and it’s a mortal sin.
New Airport Insider recently published a blog by one of who they call the “Generation Y”, students, getting ready for the travel and aviation industry. What triggered my attention there was a very basic, though very common misperception, what I call “the inside-out-look”.
What’s wrong with that?
That is rather easy. If you provide flight services, you fly both directions. Worse, if you subsidize any airport, you likely do it to attract commerce to your region (tourism is commerce too). You likely don’t do it to make the people in your region to take their money elsewhere. As such, the focus of airports and politicians alike must be on the outside in, or as we say in the travel industry; the incoming.
In the example, which is very common, the French author considered “rail” a competitor to flight. Which is true on the inside-out-look, or outgoing, but it’s simply missing the point once you look outside-in.
Aside of Germany, France and a handful other nations, train is usually no issue. Within these countries, train is very competitive on the local market, especially the high speed trains like French TGV or German ICE. But now I go abroad. Into another country. I go into any travel agency, even in France or Germany and ask for international travel. Give me a guess: How often will they offer you train, even i.e. Paris-Frankfurt? All they intuitively look for in phase 1 is “flight”. Is the city the client wants to connect to bookable on the GDS (Global Travel Booking System)? If not, the agent (hopefully without showing you) rolls the eyes, curses you and starts looking up how the f*** to get you to that godforsaken town you ask for…
In short: If you have an airport “nearby” with scheduled services that link you into the global aviation networks on the GDSs (connections are important), you are visible. Else, you’re an annoyance. If there is an airport “nearby”, travelers may take train, bus, rental car or taxi for the remainder of the trip.
Likely, not knowing the language, maybe not even the local alphabeth, it’s going to be a taxi or a car from a large (global) rental car company offering navigation system. Or a personal pickup…
Later, the train may become a competitor. But that’s another story. To trigger global commercial interest, an airport is a strategic answer.
But not just the airports, but also the connectivity by scheduled flights, which can be booked in the GDS, connecting the airport to the global aviation networks! Second lesson, most local-minded politicos miss to understand with their inside-out-look…
Passengers travelling with British Airways through London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 have begun to test the personalized digital bag tag being developed by the airline. Microsoft Employees have been chosen to take part in a month-long trial, using a specially adapted version of the British Airways app, to provide essential feedback that will help shape the final product. The digital bag tag, which contains all of a passenger’s baggage details, could eventually replace the need for a new paper tag for every flight. Comprehensive testing of the tag has already taken place to make sure that it works in a live airport environment and can stand up to the rigours of airport baggage systems and everyday travel. Customers on the trial will use a Nokia Lumia Windows smartphone to check in, chose their seat and obtain their mobile boarding pass. Each will be equipped with a specially adapted version of the British Airways app, which automatically updates the digital bag tag with a unique barcode, containing new flight details and an easy-to-see view of their bag’s destination – just by holding the mobile phone over it. They can then save time by quickly dropping their bag off at a dedicated bag drop desk, before going straight through security. The personalized digital bag tags have been specially developed by British Airways, in partnership with Densitron Displays, and Designworks Windsor. #963.AIT4
These news upset me as much as the one I read about Amadeus trying a bag tagging based on 3G-technology. Or Air France and other airlines introducing “home-print” bag tags.
As I mentioned two years ago in my little article about a possible check-in-scenario for 2015, I would see a far more reasonable approach (and easy/fast to bring to market) by the aviation industry to use established standards. Why do they use a QR-code with a modified layout? Anything to hide? Or simply to do it different? Which by the way equals “more expensive”, faulty and slow. And – worse of all: Incompatible like VHS and Betamax…
Why do they try to implement and sell expensive, non-industry-standard-compliant stuff here? Why not using existing and proven technologies like RFID or the newer (but to be standard) NFC? Why force me to use an “App” (and where can I get online when being abroad?) or even worse, an expensive 3G-Network technology?
In addition to my (somewhat delayed) prediction about Check-in 2015, I’d also like to see a common free airport WiFi system; wherever an airport offers free WiFi, it’s a common log-in worldwide. Maybe even the same for inflight, just a quick cost note if not free. Or at least a common log-in-process. Enabling to register “globally” is an added value for the Jet Set. And would encourage safer WPA2-connections. “CDM” in action – across aviation industry stakeholders 😉
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