Personalisation in the air to improve the experience and boost profit

It’s hard to get away from the word personalisation in travel although it’s mostly applied to its potential for airlines, hotels and other travel providers.

Aircraft manufacture Airbus is thinking differently.

In December 2016, A^3, the Silicon Valley-based innovation arm of Airbus unveiled Transpose to the public.

The project is all about flexibility in cabin design so that airlines can offer passengers a better experience and in return improve the bottomline.

Project Transpose executive Jason Chua says it’s about bringing the choice and personalisation consumers have in their daily lives to the aircraft.

He adds there is also value in it from the airline point of view in terms of impact on margins.

Airlines work hard to get the best yield from flights but says Chua, what if “100% premium yield” were possible.

Transpose carried out some modelling with the help of former Virgin America CFO Bob Dana using 1.5 million lines of data from fares to seat configuration and flight schedules.

The result was a potential boost to gross margin of between 4% and 7% via increased cabin flexibility and that does not include any price increases.

Six months on, what has been achieved?

Chua says a “full-scale, on the ground mock-up” of what flexible cabin design looks like and further validation of the concept via simulated flights.

As an example, Transpose carried out simulations with families and groups and used behavioural economic studies to reveal that passengers would be willing to pay more for increased flexibility.

“For families and groups that travel together the airline cabin is not that great because you’re either talking across people or standing behind the seat. The studies showed people would be willing to spend more money.”

In addition, the project has applied some neuroscience to see how consumers to react to the various products and services.

The result was that passengers were willing to pay an additional 35% on top of premium economy products for a Transpose flight.

Next steps? 

Chua says “to get this thing flying.”

Transpose is talking to Airbus and its partners but it’s a “multi-step process with a lot of stakeholders involved”

Despite this he believes the concept is viable and will be flying in the next couple of years.

Last month, Transpose walked about eight airlines through the concept with all expressing interest in a market test. Chua says:

“It’s still a conservative industry but it sees it needs to move forward towards more personalisation and choice. There is cautious optimism from more traditional airlines and increased excitement from those who are more forward thinking.”

One final incentive might be that he estimates that to launch a new aircraft program would cost several billion and take about 10 years while this should cost a lot less and uses existing infrastructure.

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda worked at tnooz from September 2011 to June 2018 in roles including senior reporter, deputy editor and managing editor.



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