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Harnessing the power of data in Africa to make better networking planning decisions

The cost of launching a new route is huge for both the airline and the destinations involved, so it is imperative that these network planning decisions are supported by a strong, data-driven business case.

One of our sessions at AviaDev will be hosted by Gad Wavomba, Principle Consultant at Sabre Airline Solutions and will offer an insight into the types of data available and how it can be used to create new air routes.

Ahead of the event, I caught up with Gad:

JH: Your session at AviaDev concerns the importance of data and its role in making solid network planning decisions. How does the availability of data in Africa compare to other continents and is the gap widening or narrowing?

GW: There is a misconception that airline data is not available in Africa, however it is! While data quality in the region can certainly be enriched, airline/airports should invest in data tools/solutions to support growth efforts and competitive analysis allowing data to be used as a guide. The gap continues to narrow with both availability and enrichment. The importance of using data as a guide to make network and commercial decisions is extremely critical.

JH: You have worked as a network planner for different airlines on different continents, namely Arik Air and Southwest. Was there a marked difference in terms of the availability and use of data between the two airlines?

GW: Absolutely. Arik Air at the time was only 5 years old, however market intelligence data at the airline and even from the airports was very scare. That created additional risk, uncertainty, and understanding of the competitive landscape leading towards even more challenging network decisions. Southwest’s data investment was quite robust as was the training to use the data for specific use cases (new routes, capacity management, long term planning) so there certainly was a difference. Leadership was also more data driven when it came to approval for network decisions. And the expectation for airports to pitch new service development to network teams was high with regards to including data in any business case.

JH: What can be done by individual actors to arrest this position and are we seeing progress?

GW: Airlines need to have a data strategy. Invest in data and training of using that data to lead them towards decision making. Lastly understand that no data is perfect. Investment in data and how to use it will have a direct impact to an airlines bottom-line.

JH: Presenting data and building business cases will be vital in a liberalised environment. Do you think the African market is ready for open skies?

GW: Yes, the African market is ready! However, African carriers need to continue using data and forecast systems to evaluate the impacts and opportunities of open skies to their network. With these tools airlines are simply planning to fly blind. Sabre plans to use our data and network forecast tools to model what open skies in Africa may look like in a year 2020 environment. 

Find out more from Gad and our other speakers, organise one-to-one meetings ahead of the event and network with the African aviation industry at AviaDev Africa 2017. Register now at www.aviationdevelop.com

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