As the aviation industry strives for net zero targets by 2050, the importance of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) has surged. Airlines are actively reducing carbon emissions in response to evolving consumer values and increasing pressure to meet ESG expectations, writes Dr Pana Lepeniotis, co-founder and Chief Data and Development Officer at Data Clarity Limited.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, higher energy costs and evolving passenger and crew demands, climate change obligations, including carbon emissions from air travel, are a growing concern.

Stakeholders, including investors, now demand both better data and tangible evidence of genuine progress by airlines and industry players in addressing climate change.

A clear, practical strategy that yields tangible results is crucial for instilling confidence and moving beyond endless projects. It enables businesses to meet challenges head on and ensures understanding across all stakeholders.

Data Clarity delivers the twin expertise of multi-vendor product integration aligned with its own class leading in-flight retail solutions.

Our strategy is that of 3P: Passengers, Planet and Profit. Passengers are the lifeblood of aviation, which is why it’s crucial to empower them with intuitive AI-enabled applications to allow for transact (pre-order, buy on board, buy at seat), predict and define their preferences and manage allergy requirements.

By doing so, we can enhance the passenger experience and deliver hyper-personalisation through tailored offers relevant to their journey and unlock revenue opportunities.

The wellbeing of our planet is of utmost importance to all of us, and in light of the challenges in the aviation industry it’s a case of understanding what can effectively reduce fuel consumption whilst acknowledging the significant role the aviation industry plays in building a better future for the planet.

The aviation industry is evolving by investing more and more into the retail offerings. That’s why there is a race amongst the airlines in making the purchase journey of the passenger easier by introducing multiple points of sale prior to, during and after the flight. The target is for the airline to operate as a high-end retailer and start tracking and measuring profits on this revenue stream as would every retailer on the high street.

Predictive power

Retail and tourism sectors are expanding in numerous countries, fostering global connections, opening many opportunities for social and economic improvement. We must contribute to these sectors responsibly through the Right Product, Right Flight, Right Passenger approach.

We can ensure that the products offered, flights operated, and passengers served align with sustainable practices, promoting responsible growth and positive impacts on communities and our world economy.

The best way to start this is by only flying what you expect to sell, avoiding excessive inventory. It’s disheartening for many airlines to witness conversion rates barely reaching 15%. Instead, by selecting the products aligned to optimise the supply chain, conversion rates can rapidly surpass 80%.

That’s why it is essential to effectively integrate solutions that utilise AI to predict seat occupancy rates, analyse passenger profiles and their product preferences on each flight departure so that the last mile provider can respond dynamically to passenger demand.

To minimise unnecessary carbon emissions, it’s vital to prevent scenarios like the “Million Mile Mars Bar”. This refers to instances where standard bar-set and replenishment algorithms contribute to avoidable emissions, resulting in approximately 0.21 tonnes of carbon dioxide for a single overstocked item.

Optimising conversion rates through dynamic bar-sets and demand-aligned solutions empowers airlines to enhance profitability and deliver personalised passenger experiences.

This approach minimises fuel waste on unsold products, benefiting both the environment and the bottom line.

Image of Dr Pana Lepeniotis who authored the Inflight magazine article on using artificial intelligence to help airlines become more sustainable

Dr Pana Lepeniotis has more than 20 years of commercial and academic experience in building and delivering data-driven solutions. With a deep understanding of the real value of data assets, he has successfully enabled businesses to harness this value through expertise in setting up data strategy, data governance and data visualisation. His proficiency in data management and artificial intelligence has contributed to effective business transformations.

This article first appeared in Inflight July/August edition.

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