Posted on: 17 November 2015 by Ross McSweeny
Following on from the news about its wearable technology trials last week, easyJet has now appointed a head of data science to accelerate its use of artificial intelligence (AI).The airline hopes the use of AI will improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase revenue and customer satisfaction by further improving a number of areas including easyJet's flight schedule, fleet reliability, inflight food and drink choice and the airline's new Flight Club loyalty programme.Traditional computing simply records and orders data – such as the 170 million items of food and drink carried in aggregate annually across all of easyJet's flights – whereas advanced computing using AI starts to use this data to predict and provide for future events. This will allow, for example, inflight food and drink supplies to match customer demand without running out or carrying an excess amount.“easyJet is a large but relatively simple airline. We are the fourth largest airline in Europe but all bookings are made through easyJet.com, we fly one aircraft type and we only fly short-haul. This combination of simplicity and scale produces an enormous amount of data,” stated Alberto Rey-Villaverde, easyJet’s new head of data science. “AI can make sense of this huge volume of data and make it work for us, making sense of patterns and trends and help us provide for them. To date, analytics has been about diagnostic capability and looking backwards. Now advanced AI is more focused on predictive capability so we can better understand the future and plan for it.”Other areas in which AI will be applied include easyJet's flight schedule, to ensure it best meets passenger demand; developing easyJet's new Flight Club loyalty programme to offer more features and retain easyJet's frequent flyers; or using the vast number of searches each year of easyJet.com to better understand – and provide for – customer demand through optimising destinations and flight times.Elsewhere, easyJet has announced the appointment of Chris Browne (pictured), formerly COO of TUI Airlines, as a non-executive director with effect from 1 January 2016. John Browett will step down from the board with effect from 31 December 2015.John Barton, chairman of easyJet, commented, “I and the easyJet team are delighted to welcome Chris as a non-executive director. She has an impressive track record in the aviation and travel industries with particularly strong operational and strategic expertise. I also know that she will fit very easily into the easyJet culture. I would also like to thank John Browett for his exceptional contribution to easyJet over the past eight years. He has been an active member of the board that has supported the executive in building easyJet's sustained success.”“I am delighted to be joining such a successful business and a team of inspirational people who have both pioneered great customer service and delivered exceptional financial and operational results,” noted Browne.