Saturday, February 4, 2023

How Cloud Solutions are changing the airline distribution landscape

The airline distribution landscape is making new inroads once again. To ensure consumers benefit from a  more flexible and agile travel experience, Global Distribution Systems are turning to cloud-based software and technologies for large-scale cloud migration.

Even before the pandemic, there was an urgent need to modernize the legacy systems of many airlines as well as distribution systems to ensure smoother customer-centric operations. The post-pandemic airport chaos and the sheer market volatility that the industry witnessed in recent times was a reminder that the time is now for change. Through cloud based software’s and technologies, airlines and distribution companies can ensure a new era of efficiency, better customer experiences while protecting their data from any volatility and reaching long-term goals like carbon footprint reduction.

Today’s customer no longer represent a transaction but have become a core or permanent element in the airline/GDS system. To ensure GDS’s have access to this core data at any given point, in real-time, the entire process needs the architectural framework to support it and this can be possible with cloud-enabled backup systems. That access enables systems to behave on-demand and in real-time, quickly and seamlessly.

Sabre announced a 10-year partnership with Google Cloud with plans to create a new marketplace for airline, hospitality and agency customers. The GDS giant says besides offering new services, operational agility is a key focus.

Sabre has earmarked a number of initiatives for its teams to work on alongside Google, including the migration of its IT infrastructure and using Google Cloud’s data analytic tools and insights to boost its own products. Innovation is a key part of the partnership, with a strategy to “imagine, develop and deploy future capabilities that will advance the travel ecosystem.”

Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, says: “We believe our partnership will deliver more personalized experiences for travelers, saving time and providing greater convenience that will ultimately raise the standard for the travel industry overall.”

Travelport announced it was moving to cloud hosting using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the company looks to accelerate its digital transformation of retailing in the travel industry. AWS will also be used for data storage, security services, analytics and machine learning.

Travelport CEO Greg Webb says: “This collaboration is specifically designed to address just that. AWS’s retail heritage makes them uniquely qualified to optimize digital retail platforms, simplify complex environments, and enable game-changing innovation in the travel retailing space.

“With AWS as our preferred cloud partner, we are going to create a simpler, smarter, and better future for travel retailing.”

According to Amadeus, its partnership with Microsoft was positioned as a move to the cloud within three to five years as well as collaboration on new products and services through an innovation program. In its ‘Journey to Cloud Planet’ report, Amadeus will work towards more intuitive travel search in the future and predictive disruption management. Key to the developments is a ‘data mesh’ which Amadeus says it is “perfecting with Microsoft” and describes it as “the next evolution of a data lake.”

The hope is that using Microsoft Azure AI, the travel industry will be able to get more value from data by allowing different segments to access data and join up the dots in a customer’s journey.

Amadeus says it has created a Traveler Centric Platform which enables travel suppliers to share journey insights and data on common customers. The two companies are already exploring the potential for intuitive search by combining Amadeus data with Natural Language Processing technology from Microsoft.

Yves Rault, program manager for data platform & partners, Amadeus, says: “Using NLP, travelers can describe their trip verbally or through written text, and search capabilities that harness public cloud infrastructure will compute billions of possible itineraries before returning a small number of highly relevant options.

“This has the potential to drastically simplify the experience of searching for travel, reducing the number of websites a traveler visits and delivering tailored results that dramatically improve conversion.”

Handling airline disruptions is another the companies are working together with public cloud computing and machine learning combined to help Amadeus predict disruption and offer re-accommodation to travelers before they have departed. The global distribution giant is also looking at ways to use boost productivity in the corporate travel world.

A final area of development for Amadeus, Microsoft and other technology providers is the implementation of a new cloud-based cybersecurity defense system. According to the Amadeus report, the system is based on a vision and strategy to ‘trust no one and verify everything, continuously’.  

Cloud technology truly provides airline companies the opportunity to leverage the benefits of the cloud for application creation and for managing their mass amounts of content and data and give them the ability to react to market dynamics in real-time and tune their operations accordingly.  With cloud solutions, airlines can leverage advanced technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning to vastly improve operations, tackle maintenance challenges, and create new experiences for their valued customers.

Several airlines such as Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, GOL Airlines, and Qantas have all recently turned to cloud services for their data needs.

Lufthansa who recently announced their partnership with Google Cloud says, the plan is to build a platform that will come up with scenarios to help it get back to normal operations after disruptions such as weather events. Data from various sources such as crew scheduling, aircraft replacement and maintenance will be merged to help create the scenarios.

Detlef Kayser, a member of the executive board of Lufthansa Group, says: “This will enable us to identify possible flight irregularities even earlier and implement countermeasures at an early stage.” The statement talks about being able to rebook passengers across the group’s four hubs more rapidly in the future through artificial intelligence-driven systems.

The journey with Cloud migration may have just begun but with the right vision and proper support, the transformation will take the industry into a new era.

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