AirAsia — gaining on the skies with digital?

AirAsia — gaining on the skies with digital? Source: Shutterstock

How AirAsia uses AI and ML to make flights safer

EVERY business in today’s day and age understands that there are certain advantages that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can provide — of which cost reduction and operational efficiency are the most attractive.

However, the truth is, in order for a business to really gain a leg up over its competitors purely as a result of using AI and ML requires that it identify a differentiator. For AirAsia, the unique value proposition of AI and ML is safety.

AirAsia Deputy Group CEO Aireen Omar met with Tech Wire Asia at the Google Cloud Summit in Kuala Lumpur and explained how her business is transforming — with the help of data and cognitive technologies.

“There are several ways in which we gather and leverage data in our business,” said Omar.

From the discussion, it seems as though the company doesn’t throw around the word leverage loosely. Data is used in several areas such as predictive maintenance, operations management, ground operations, customer service, and so on.

Omar, who cites predictive maintenance as one of the more nuanced use cases of AI and ML within the business points out that AirAsia collects data from more than 24,000 sensors on an aircraft and uses that data to determine — ahead of time — when something will go wrong so it can fix it and reduce downtime.

“The truth is, everything is driven by costs and efficiencies. The quicker the aircraft gets back in the air, the more it benefits us and our customers from a cost perspective — delays not only directly hit our bottom line but also cause unnecessary headaches, heartaches, and frustrations,” explained Omar.

When an aircraft lands on the tarmac, efficiencies created by AI, ML, and other technologies allow AirAsia to ready the plane for takeoff in 25 minutes flat.

AirAsia may be a young airline, but it isn’t new to the world of digital. The company has been in partnership with Google for quite a while now — drawing from their technical expertise and talent to build exciting digital solutions.

Tech Wire Asia spoke to AirAsia’s Head of Data Scientist Alauddin Md earlier this year, for example, to discuss how the technology was transforming the company’s customer experience and helping them upsell and cross-sell on its digital platform — improving revenues for the business despite pressures on margins in the low-cost airline space.

However, the fact is, AirAsia is moving forward in leaps and bounds using cognitive technologies, which is making the skies much safer too.

“An important area that we think AI and ML can benefit us a lot is roster management,” said Omar.

Despite having a lot of technologies at play, airlines depend heavily on its pilots and crew to deliver a great (and safe) experience to customers. Fatigue management is a big part of that. Using AI and ML, it becomes much easier for the airline to plan monthly rosters and make sure regulatory guidelines have been complied with.

From the looks of it, AirAsia’s laserlike focus on digital is putting it in a position to scale great heights in the sky.