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AI prepares to reach for the sky as easyJet opens new operations control centre

ARTIFICIAL Intelligence is to play a key role in operating the daily programme of around 2,000 flights by low-cost airline easyJet.

The airline has opened a new operations Integrated Control Centre at London Luton Airport which has embedded AI into its day-to-day practices to deliver faster and better decision-making and an improved customer experience.

More than 250 skilled operators work in the 24/7 control centre managing more than 340 aircraft flying up to 300,000 customers to 35 countries on more than 1,000 routes to 155 airports every day. The state-of-the-art facility houses experts working to get flights off the ground and to their destination safely and on time.

Roles in the centre range from route planners, crewing teams to ensure pilots and crew are correctly allocated to flights, teams dealing with aircraft allocation and aircraft maintenance as well as live customer communications.

Part of the Jetstream AI tool helps to predict standby crew requirements and is a crew planning tool which helps to recommend and select the best crew options for the needs of the operation.

Jetstream gives easyJet staff instant access to policies, procedures and information which will enable them to solve operational issues as they occur. It contains the information from eight operational manuals to aid ICC with a wealth of information making around 3,000 pages of manuals available at their fingertips.

“In the coming months, we plan for AI-led technology will be placed in the hands of our crew as well,” said an easyJet spokesman.

Johan Lundgren, easyJet’s CEO.

The airline’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We saw the potential early on for data to improve customer experience and operational efficiency which could help us provide a better flying experience for our customers, crew and pilots. And while you cannot always see it, the technology is already hard at work in the air and on the ground helping us predict exactly what food and drink we need for certain routes while minimising food waste, aiding predictive maintenance decisions and helping us to ensure we have the right aircraft on the right routes to best match demand.

“We continue to invest in and deepen our knowledge and use of AI, with a rapid deployment team working on 250 live use cases across our operations and scheduling, customer service, the booking experience and easyJet holidays.”

AI’s predictive qualities are also being used to free up over a million additional seats a year. Its predictions of additional demand on the most popular routes will enable easyJet to move its aircraft so that larger-capacity plans with up to 50 more seats are deployed to meet demand.

Aircraft are also being fitted with new AI software that helps them to interact in real time with air traffic control across Europe. “AI is helping us pinpoint precise aircraft locations with much more accuracy helping speed journeys and reduce emissions,” said the spokesman.

Gill Baudot, director of network control, said: “Each and every day my whole team are responsible for, and entirely focused on, safely getting more than a quarter of a million passengers to their destinations, navigating the many and varied challenges that Europe’s busy and complex airspace can bring.

“Providing our people with generative AI solutions at their fingertips helps to speed up decision-making to solve operational issues as they occur and we can see many ways to further build on the progress we have already made and enhance this in the near future.”

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