Perspective

The commercial airline industry has been hard at it for a century. The 100-year anniversary was a significant milestone that we’ll only encounter once in our lifetimes. Commercial aviation started on Jan. 1, 1914, with the first passenger plane — a two-seater aircraft with an open cockpit. As we look back over the past 10 decades, the progress that has been made and the ongoing evolution of air travel is mind-boggling.

There are countless factors that have contributed to the success of the airline industry. One factor that nears the top of the list is operations research (OR). We rely on OR to take complex business problems, break them down into basic components and solve them in defined steps by mathematical analysis.

This process is essential for airlines, giving them the ability to make better, quicker decisions across their organization. As a result, time and money is saved, revenues are increased, productivity is improved and customers are fulfilled.

At Sabre Airline Solutions®, OR is our lifeline. Our history dates back to 1961, when American Airlines launched the first automated real-time reservations system and introduced Sabre®. That was a game-changing time for commercial aviation, and since then, technology, as a result of OR, continues to evolve.

History was made again in the mid-1980s with the introduction of the first revenue-management system, another American Airlines-Sabre milestone. Regardless of the business area — pricing, revenue management, planning and scheduling, flight operations, fuel optimization, crew planning, operations recovery, customer experience management, etc. — OR is at the forefront, discovering ways for airlines to operate more efficiently while generating revenue and giving customers the best possible experience. Because operations research is a driving force behind some of the most successful airlines, we’ve dedicated our special section to it. There are far too many initiatives underway, as well as newly released developments, to cover them all in a single issue of the magazine, so we’ve narrowed it down to a few areas we thought may appeal to you.

For example, we have new payload-management and turnaround-management decision-support modules that can help you achieve optimum aircraft turn times and more efficiently transport passengers and crew.

We also talk about ways airlines can adopt new customer-centric practices by more efficiently managing data; how newer data-analysis techniques help airlines recover from irregular operations; and how the historical picture of airline passenger travel can be more precisely constructed.

In addition, we are currently developing a Web-based, integrated decision-support prototype for a new proactive-pricing workflow that can help airlines determine optimal price levels in specific markets based on their desired price ranges for each core fare product.

These developments, all a result of operations research, have brought us from a two-seat, open-cockpit aircraft to a thriving aviation industry that carries more than 3 billion passengers a year.

The world relies on air transportation, and while we, as individuals, won’t be here to see the industry through another 100 years, the OR work we do today paves the way for generations to come.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Ascend, and I look forward to working with you as, together, we introduce new developments that foster a promising aviation future.

Hugh

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