Simon Grennan, managing director of the Dublin-based aviation analytics specialist Planitassays carriers will emerge from COVID with a better appreciation of the value of accessible and accurate data insights
For airlines that have weathered the COVID-19 storm, the focus has shifted from survival to a more agile future as the international travel market continues to be plagued by uncertainty.
At the heart of this post-pandemic prerequisite is data and ensuring carriers have the processes and people in place to understand and organize the information that can be derived from it.
This is where the Dublin-based aeronautical data specialist Planitas believes it is well positioned to establish itself as a partner of choice as airlines better appreciate the power of data.
The company has 20 years of experience specializing specifically in airline data and revenue analysis, software development and in-house human expertise within its team of 20 people.
Planitas was founded by its current chairman, Luke Mooney, former chairman of CityJet, who saw first-hand the challenges associated with airline data.
Simon Grennan, the company’s chief executive, said: “Airlines produce a lot of it, naturally, because of their business model and the challenge is how accessible it is and how accurate their reporting is.
“That hasn’t changed. We work with airlines on the basis that their data comes in many different forms and comes from many different channels, be it GDS, booking partnerships, their own revenue teams or OTAs .
“It’s hard to organize, so we help with that and improve the quality of it, which makes them more agile, faster and make better decisions.”
As an airline specialist, Planitas seeks customers at the top of the travel pyramid in terms of number of organizations, although there are approximately 5,000 airlines worldwide. Planitas currently works with only 10 of them, including Jet Blue, Hawaiian Air, Frontier Airlines and Air Malta.
But with new trends and customer behaviors emerging post-COVID, some of which will be fleeting while others will be here for the long haul, all airlines will need to be on top of their data insights more than ever, he said. said Grennan.
“From the airlines’ point of view, they have been through very difficult times and I hope we are through the worst. But they need that real-time data so badly that we can provide it.
“The airlines have had to rebuild teams because there has been a reduction in the resources they have to work with, so having us there has been helpful for them. We have knowledge that can cross-check what they have withheld.
“We are very positive about the industry and the future. Many of the markets we work in are doing very well, especially if they have big domestic markets.
“International markets have their own challenges with changing regulations and uncertainty is a major problem. But once that uncertainty increases demand it will come back, maybe it will take a little longer for some, but I am extremely positive.
Grennan adds: “We see some really great people in the industry and big airlines with entrepreneurial ideas, but they have to do more with less and do it faster.
“There are new behavioral patterns popping up all the time, new types of customers arriving, new trends in bookings like departure dates or booking times. It’s all in the air.
“And there have been huge moves in terms of airlines exiting markets or entering markets and that competition again creates more points of difference. The predictability is certainly not there and that in itself creates a need to have the right information.
“For us, the appreciation of data is greater than it has ever been and there is an increase in both the volume and the multiplicity of data sources, so we are making sure that we are growing alongside of our customers.
“We can support them and from our point of view, it is our expertise. We can’t fly the planes, we can’t man them, but that’s what we can do.
Grennan says Planitas rarely loses the customers it hires and is poised to scale both labor-wise and technically with its cloud-based software-as-a-service model, as she expects to work with more partners this year than ever before.
The company has a roadmap of technology developments it will roll out this year to ensure it keeps pace with how airlines want to consume and make sense of their data.
“We are very customer-focused in our product development. When a client tells us they would like this, we try to implement it quickly,” says Grennan.
“Eighty percent of what we do is essential, but the improvements are applicable to all of our customers, and each airline is different in how it operates and needs.”
“What we want to do is grow, but grow in a manageable way. What we want is for everyone in the industry to do well. When companies are not doing well, it is very difficult to reinvest in his own business.
Grennan added that while airline KPIs (key performance indicators), strategies and data models may vary, the key is that their data is accurate and reliable.
“It’s a really tough time for people in the travel and hospitality industry,” he says. “They had to overcome this when large parts of the economy did very well.
“The good thing about it is there’s money to be spent, and people missed traveling and missed having that bit of warmth on their backs.”