Wednesday, 24 September 2008

What is it all about?

From my experience, one of the biggest obstacles in reducing the number of flight disruptions is the lack of comprehensive information about their true causes and cost consequences, necessary to elevate disruption issues from operational to top organisational level. In the absence of this information, airline executives keep focusing on the operational side of the problem. While measuring operational efficiency and making decisions based on unreliable and incomplete delay reports, it is easy for the executives to get out of touch with root causes of problems, like inefficient planning or inherited airline strategies that ignore operational limitations – reasons that could hinder even the best improvement initiatives.

The lack of awareness about the full consequences of disruptions on airline costs and their knock-on effects on the air transport system, economy, and the environment, makes it difficult for airline executives to prioritise actions and keep disruptions under control. Even though these losses could reach staggering values, they often remain hidden behind traditional structures of financial reports. You can get some idea about their magnitude by reading the latest report published by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) of the US Congress suggests that ‘delays cost the nation’s economy in wasted fuel, rescheduled business meetings, and lost productivity $41 billion in 2007 alone, excluding international traffic’. The fact that the majority of the losses are generated at most congested routes only illustrates the severity of problem caused by unsynchronised development of main participants in the air transport system – airlines, airports and ATC.

I have devoted many years to studying this subject. My diverse airline career spanning strategy, network and schedule planning, marketing and operations, within legacy, low cost and charter airlines, assured me that much more could be done to alleviate disruption problems. In my book ‘Beyond Airline Disruptions’ I described the hidden dimensions of disrupted operations and explained how to use this knowledge to cut operating costs, evaluate disruption risks, improve system efficiency and show higher respect for airline passengers.

This blog is meant to raise awareness about the extent of the impact of airline disruptions, and to inspire ideas that can help soothe this widespread industry problem. I invite you to get onboard.