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At Air Canada, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a key part of the airline’s strategy as its moves forward on a series of initiatives that will help shape the future of the airline for the more than 50 million passengers who are transported each year.
“Big data and AI are now a big part of our business,” said Calin Rovinescu, Air Canada president and CEO. “One example is predictive maintenance from our modern aircraft, like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In addition to our normally scheduled checks, we can now predict maintenance of components not yet broken, to repair when the aircraft is less active. This way, we can do other work that we know we’re likely to have an issue with, that would not come into the regular cycle.
“Our new loyalty program will also make use of data that already exists for all of our frequent flyers. We know what their flying preferences are and that will enable us to combine relationship-management technology with loyalty management.”
AI will help Air Canada understand complex patterns in a manner that would be impossible with traditional technologies. The Boeing 787 Dreamliners generate over 500 gigabytes of data during a single flight. Only through the help of AI technologies can the airline leverage the full scope of this data to improve not only maintenance downtime, but also customer experience and operational performance.
Air Canada’s ambition is to become Canada’s AI employer of choice within three years, and within five years, Air Canada plans to leverage AI throughout the organization to ensure competitive advantage within the global airline industry.
As a starting point, Air Canada has formed an AI Centre of Expertise (CoE), comprised of business leaders, data scientists, and data engineers who collaborate closely with universities and researchers. This will help Air Canada deliver on their strategic roadmap and become one of the most proactive and ambitious adopters of AI in Canada. Along with introducing AI labs across the company, part of the CoE’s role is to introduce new ways of thinking about traditional problems.
Air Canada has a number of major initiatives already underway as the company moves forward with modernizing their passenger reservation system, re-imagining its loyalty program, and transforming core operational processes. AI will allow the airline to fully leverage these investments and accelerate its journey in becoming a global champion.