Irregular Operations (IROPS) as a result of disruptive weather events like snowstorms and lightening have a significant impact on the U.S. aviation system. One study found that airlines lose $13,000 every time a flight is cancelled because of an uncontrollable event like the weather. The good news is that there are ways that airlines and airports can more effectively prepare for and cope with the whims and caprices of Mother Nature.
1. Delays, Diversions and Cancellations: In 2018, the U.S. airline industry lost $340M due to weather-related delays, diversions and cancellations.The reason? Many airlines don’t realize that they’re relying on inaccurate forecasts. The standard forecasts today, even those delivered via user-friendly dashboards or apps, are based on repackaged government data that doesn’t provide the kind of location-specific, minute-by-minute forecasts an airline needs to prepare for sudden weather shocks such as lightning and snowstorms.
Solution: Tap into technology that transforms data from cell towers, autonomous cars, drones and IoT devices into the ultimate weather machine. AI weather models then take this massive amount of information and produce real-time, runway-by-runway forecasts and alerts. Such a solution helps airlines know exactly when to push out flights, reducing delay times, costly diversions and cancellation rates.
2. Safety Hazard: Snowfall can greatly affect aircraft on the ground, as well as during ascent and descent. Significant snow accumulation that isn’t anticipated can cause unnecessary airport closures, while the undetected formation of ice on an aircraft is another major concern. On the ground, ramps that aren’t properly prepared for the elements by crew members can turn a takeoff or landing into a serious safety hazard.
Solution: Hyper accurate forecasts now provide airlines and airports with the heads up they need to plan ahead, by staffing appropriately, bringing a snow removal team, applying the necessary chemicals on a ramp and deicing an aircraft so as to ensure that crew and passengers alike stay safe.
3. Unnecessary Windows of Caution: A big problem with traditional weather forecasting is that it predicts precipitation adequately but fails to detect strong winds and lightning with any degree of specificity. As a result, many airlines overcompensate for potential bad weather by prematurely closing ramps, cancelling flights, overstaffing and generally operating reactively, on an ad hoc basis.
Solution: Access to more accurate timing and location forecasts are allowing airlines to minimize downtime, keep ramps open for as long as possible and periodically suspend deicing. As a result, airlines can continue to operate at maximum efficiency while keeping crew members and passengers safe.
4. Negative Customer Experience: In the digital age we live in nothing travels faster around the world than a bad experience. People who endure a negative experience are 50% more likely to share it on social media. Meanwhile, nearly 68% of people say that product and service reviews make a difference in their purchasing decisions. And bad reviews can have a negative impact on the bottom line. One negative review seen by potential customers can drive down business by almost 22%.
Solution: Airlines that use a single source to access all weather information across hubs globally are better able to synchronize between various company stakeholders. Being able to streamline operations this way is bound to boost passengers’ levels of satisfaction.
Can Mother Nature Be Managed?
Mother Nature is more restless than ever. However, airlines and airports can manage this quickening pace of climatic change by having the real time knowledge necessary to arrange early cancellations, schedule changes, secure ramp equipment, fuel aircraft in advance, increase staffing and whatever other steps are needed to minimize delays and maximize safety.
The bottom line results are clear. One airline recently reported savings of $300K-$600K per hub per year by using such cutting-edge weather solutions like ClimaCell. Beyond the ROI calculations, having between 1-3 days to prepare for bad weather enables airlines to run much more efficiently, boosting crews’ morale and passengers’ experiences alike.