The Current State of the Airline Industry
The airline industry has always been an early adopter of technology to drive efficiency, enhance customer experience and increase margins. As costs surrounding the business of flying increase, and the focus on sustainability becomes ever more prevalent, so this dependency on technology has increased.
However, there are vulnerabilities that threaten to outweigh the advantages to tech investments, and some are beginning to have the opposite effect. One such airline technology vulnerability is that mobile devices, critical to operations, are often costing airlines money, just when they can least afford it.
The airline industry is in a phase of recovery following the unprecedented closure of international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced and voluntary redundancies of pilots, cabin crew, customer service agents and ground staff are proving a challenge to replace, while the industry simultaneously battles increased fuel costs and stretched supply chains.
Airline Staff Shortage Challenges
According to Airlines for America, there is a shortfall of around 13,000 aviation jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is a particular issue in the US market but is also having far-reaching effects across the European and Asian aviation landscape.
Acuity Analysis estimates between the start of the pandemic and March 2021, total aviation job losses in the UK was 46,247.
More than 30% of flights, were delayed from the Heathrow airport in London from January to April 2022.
And according to an ACI EUROPE survey, during the summer months of 2022 66% of European airports expect flight delays to increase, 16% expect flight cancellations to increase, 15% expect flight schedules to be adapted, 35% expect the airport and ground handling staff crunch to affect their operations beyond the summer season.
“The staff shortages mean that we are struggling to operate our planned schedule with the quality and punctuality we promise,” Jens Ritter, the CEO of Lufthansa’s main German airline, said in a recent LinkedIn post, apologizing for cancelled flights in Munich and Frankfurt. “Many people have left the aviation sector during the pandemic and found work elsewhere. Now, our system partners such as airports and caterers are experiencing an acute staff shortage and are struggling to hire new staff.”
“No market is immune to the manpower issues so any window to address these can be seen as beneficial,” Brendan Sobie, Sobie Aviation.
This perfect storm has backed airlines into a corner, and as so often happens when change is reactive, the infrastructure is not always in place to ensure a successful integration of airline technology solutions.
The Value of Device Management for Airlines
Looking at the key scenarios and roles airline technology plays, it is easy to see why the business has developed such a dependency on mobile devices. Airlines run to a schedule, and their success depends on meeting the demands of that schedule. Devices may not be able to fly or land the planes, but their value in offering seamless communication between all the moving parts is critical to keeping allocated airport slots, meeting customer expectation and maximising commercial opportunities. Time is money.
Aside from lost revenue due to canceled or delayed flights, airlines are taking huge hits on flight compensation to passengers. Under broadened European Consumer Protection Laws, passengers are entitled to compensation for certain flight delays caused by the airline.
One such example is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines who in its second quarter results for 2022 revealed that compensating customers for flight delays had cost it 70 million euros ($71 million).
If a pilot mislays a flight schedule, a smartphone loses charge when needed to communicate with ground crew or a customer service team member can’t offer a potential customer a ticket, the cost implications compound to be seriously detrimental to the business’ bottom line.
This doesn’t even take into account lost potential revenue if a handheld POS device fails in-flight so crew members can’t maximise food and beverage sales. Effective device management has the potential to increase efficiency, contribute to reducing delays and add to the bottom line.
IT Department Stress is Compounding Labor Shortages
There are not just airline staff shortages in flight staff. Shortages in qualified IT engineers is a problem affecting a multitude of sectors – including aviation. In the US it is estimated that by 2026 there will be a shortfall of 1.2 million skilled IT workers. The challenge facing business managers is to retain staff and keep them in rewarding roles both in terms of salary and engagement.
Consider that each time a pilot, ground crew member or customer service representative requires a replacement device, someone from the IT department has to manually source, prepare and deliver the replacement. This time-heavy approach not only has a hard cost in lost technical hours to the business, but it also erodes the employee’s job satisfaction, increasing the threat of losing skilled labor.
Reduce Stress, Maintain the Schedule with Improved Device Management Processes
In a recent survey, LocknCharge examined the changing roles within IT, and we have used this insight to help understand how our suite of products can make a difference. Our extensive experience in providing solutions to fast-paced, time-critical work environments leaves us well placed to deliver 360° physical device management solutions.
The approach is to automate device management workflow to save time for both the tech team and the device user. This allows skilled IT technicians to prioritise their time more effectively across all important IT initiatives–not just device management. The key product to deliver this solution: The FUYL Tower Smart Locker powered by LocknCharge Cloud.
FUYL Tower Smart Charging Lockers for the Aviation Industry
The FUYL Tower Smart Locker provides a single point of storage and charging for the airline’s replacement devices, and makes devices available 24/7/365 - should a crew member need access to one.
The Tower fits seamlessly into busy workspaces such as the employee lounge or similar shared space. Each device securely stored inside the Tower is loaded with relevant software and content, ready to be checked out by the assigned airline staff member.
Should any updates or new apps be required, an optional Tower network kit can allow updates to be pushed from a remote location to devices inside the Tower. The same is true if a team member loses or breaks a device. A replacement device inside a Tower can be allocated remotely by an IT support person via the LocknCharge Cloud platform.
The FUYL Tower Smart Locker is a proven solution to improve working efficiencies for airlines and to save man hours from the IT side. IT can spend their time proactively managing airline technology to allow it to realize its potential, rather than fighting fires. It is simple, cost effective and a perfect fit for the aviation industry.
Pilots keep their essential flight manuals, flight attendants their price lists and card readers, and ground crew their mission-critical communication with customer service. The result – flights that run to schedule, sales goals that are met and happy customers who are delivered to their destinations on time.
When the schedule is critical to business viability, and there are challenges surrounding workforce numbers, LocknCharge’s practical, cost-effective device management solutions can help keep airlines flying.