Operational Planning – Getting the Balance Right

By | Human Resources, Technology

At most airlines, the operational planning window has been shortened from annual or seasonal to just months and weeks, as airlines react to the current surge in demand. In an effort to maximise revenues by chasing the huge levels of pent-up demand for travel, market-planning functions in commercial passenger airlines are placing additional stress on operations that are already under heavy pressure. There is a tough balance to be struck between maximising revenue opportunities, whilst still being able to manage a sustainable operation of crew and resources.

Operational Planning to Face Current Demand

There is plenty of evidence to show that airline operations are struggling to meet the current demand. Crew Planners and Schedulers are under increased pressure to react to changes driven by the revenue side of the business. If this pressure is not well managed and properly calibrated with the operational capacity of the airline, the revenue-chasing efforts quickly become counter-productive. To get the operational balance right, airlines need to be able to track flight crew utilization, productivity and costs in real-time. With the crew planning and scheduling window being shortened, it is more important than ever that the crew management function can answer the following kinds of questions:

  • Have we scheduled the appropriate crew complement for the operation, in terms of Captains, First Officers and Cabin Crew?
  • Is our crew recruitment and training plan operating successfully? What is the rate of attrition?
  • As we change the flying programme, do we still have enough flight crew in the right locations to execute this plan?
  • Where are our Standby or Reserve crew located and are we using them effectively?
  • What events are disrupting the planned schedules? How many are crew related, in terms of sickness and fatigue?

Airlines that cannot answer these questions on a day to day basis will struggle to get the operational balance right between maximising revenues and managing a sustainable operation. Up to date analysis of how the operation is performing is essential for understanding if the operation is coping, or if a tipping point has been reached where chasing further revenue is counterproductive.

Rainmaker’s Operations Analytics Software streamlines the process of gathering day to day operational data such as delays and cancellations across the airline. This is then supported by Rainmaker’s Crew Analytics, Hotel & Transport, and Fuel Analytics applications, giving airlines a complete view of their operations, available in real-time, for managers at their desktops or on-the-go. By utilising this data, airlines can maximise their push to chase revenues whilst also being able to maintain a sustainable operation with manageable levels of flight crew.

Contact us for further details today at: sales@nullrainmaker.aero

Tackling Crew Retention in the Aviation Sector

By | Human Resources, Technology

The aviation industry is currently under serious pressure to retain flight crew and deal with pilot shortages. The last two years have seen many crew, especially experienced pilots, retire or leave the industry, or move to other airlines and better paid positions. Now more than ever, it’s proving crucial for airline management to re-focus on crew retention and keeping their current workforce happy.

Airlines around the world have come up with a variety of solutions to boost staff morale and prevent further shortages.

Training and Development Incentives

Many airlines are offering additional training and career advancement opportunities in order to fill Captain and First Officer roles. Experienced FO’s are advancing to Captain more rapidly than they would have expected and airlines are stepping in to fund training for new entrants to reduce or remove a costly barrier to entry. While airlines are being more creative in how they train their people this is also providing more opportunity for rapid career advancement. Training and upskilling is a necessary constant as regulations and technologies continue to evolve. To develop and retain flight crew, airlines need to continually improve how they train their crews.

Pilot and air hostess walking with their trolley bags in the airport terminal

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a growing concern for flight crew. Time away from base and the ‘operability’ of crew rosters is a strong focus as airlines battle to maximise revenues in efforts to accelerate recovery.  Airline staff need a balance between time working and downtime at home with their families. If their current employer fails to offer them a stable roster with manageable hours, crew will be forced to find a new airline with a more favourable schedule.

Retention Bonuses and Incentive Pay

Increasingly, airline companies offer their flight crew retention and performance bonuses in recognition of loyalty and commitment to the company. Loyalty bonuses would typically increase incrementally with the number of years served. Airlines are also devising pay schemes to incentivise crew towards higher productivity in return for increased pay and stable rosters. Other monetary benefits such as increased retirement contributions and annual bonuses are designed to encourage staff not to leave their position.

Keeping Crew Informed and Motivated

In a time when it has never been more important to retain flight crew and keep them motivated, Rainmaker comes into its own. Accurate and transparent pay is a fundamental motivator. Rainmaker Crew Pay Manager automates the entire pay cycle, pays accurately every time and makes every detail that influences pay available to crew members on whatever device they choose to carry. The Rainmaker Crew Pay solution can be quickly configured for new pay rules such as incentive pay, longevity bonuses, and much more. The Rainmaker analytics solutions provide chapter and verse on crew costs and any deviations from budget. Crew Analytics also gives you the granular information you need from Day of Operations to know how your Manpower Plan has worked out, how well optimized your crew schedules are, what levels of stability you are achieving in published rosters, what trips are difficult to operate – anything you want to know about flight crew costs and performance at your fingertips.

Rainmaker’s Hotel and Transport booking module helps you make sure that crew have a hotel room when they need one and that they get to where they need to be on time.

If you want to retain you flight crew and motivate them to achieve your operating goals then you need to look after them properly. That starts with pay and extends all the way to making sure they have a comfortable bed to sleep in. In the broader operation it means knowing what is going on throughout the ‘crew supply chain’ to have enough of the right crew in the right places every day as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible. To be able to achieve that consistently you need Rainmaker. Let us show you how we do it.

Don’t just take our word for it – Contact us today at: sales@nullrainmaker.aero

 

Recovering the bottom line by managing Crew Costs

By | Technology, General

The Covid-19 Pandemic has forced airlines to examine crew costs at a forensic level and cut expenditures dramatically in order to survive.

With thousands of aircraft grounded, flight crew were immediately put on furlough, and that helped airlines to manage crew costs in the short-term. Recovery means getting flight crew back to flying the line in anticipation of continued increases in passenger numbers and progressive revenue growth. A major challenge that airlines now face is to maintain a balance between revenue management and cost control.

While flight crew costs are mostly predictable, they are also highly variable. Crew schedules reprint to change in the normal course of operations and often get disrupted due to irregular operational events. This can make it difficult to control the build-up of costs – especially when crew cost information and performance measures are not easily available as a solid basis for decision making.

flight crew checking passport

Airlines publish flight plans, crew rosters and related budgets but then struggle to track and quantify variances from the plan as the action happens. As a consequence, few airlines have a detailed understanding of what the real drivers of crew cost variances are. Without detailed insights into a crew’s operational events, related decisions and how these drive costs, airline management lack the diagnostic evidence for them to intervene and improve the situation. As a consequence, increased crew costs across every bid period are seen as inevitable and uncontrollable.

To have any chance of managing crew costs effectively, modern airlines need to always have a finger on the pulse. This requires the ability to:

  • Establish an accurate baseline for current operating costs and performance
  • Identify variances against plan, root causes, waste and cost saving opportunities
  • Take action to exploit cost saving opportunities through collaboration across operational departments
  • Track the improvements from period to period – gather the evidence

The natural instinct of an airline is to keep the operation moving and aircraft flying no matter what. This instinct tends to drive behaviours that disregard cost as a decision factor. A Scheduler can make decisions that cost an airline large sums of money, but the cost implications are not evident at decision time. In fact, the cost implications are often lost entirely because the CFO of the airline can only see an unwelcome cost variance and not the specific actions that created it. The result is that the same operational decisions are taken again and again without fully understanding if these are the best decisions for all stakeholders including Schedulers, Flight Crew, Passengers and Airline Management.

Airline Management needs access to decision-grade information every day to manage the efficient performance of the airline.

Rainmaker Crew Pay Manager and Crew Analytics provides the dynamic information needed to manage crew costs and drive operational improvements. Call us today for a demonstration of the solutions that can transform how you manage your airline operations.

Managing Flight Crew Costs with Efficient Data

By | Technology

Managing Crew costs has long been an important focus point for airlines. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought these costs into even sharper focus. Now in 2022, as airlines embrace the challenges of recovering to pre-pandemic levels of performance it is clear that effective cost management will continue to be a critical capability for the future.

Crew costs are one of the biggest expenses for airlines, second only to the costs of fuel. These costs are difficult to manage within the dynamics of the operation and many airlines do not have the insights into the drivers of these costs or the necessary levers to optimize them.

  • Flight crew costs almost always exceed budget every time.
  • Schedulers make decisions on crew allocation and assignments without consideration for cost.
  • The true picture on Crew costs is not available until after the roster period has ended and the horse has effectively bolted.
  • Cost inaccuracies, particularly in relation to pay for flight crew, are major bugbears and operational headaches.
  • Additional costs are incurred month after month and are accepted as a natural consequence of managing the operation.
  • Without the ability to diagnose and understand these costs and the related dynamics there is little or no opportunity for improvement.

Managing Crew costs is a real challenge but there is a way to calculate crew costs as they are incurred and have full visibility at all times.

The solution is automated crew pay from Rainmaker – a system that calculates pay and allowances dynamically for the published roster and for every trip scheduled and flown.

As Collective Agreements have become more and more complicated over time it is now essential that airlines have a fully automated system to calculate and process crew pay. Using the typical mix of manual and automated processes is no longer viable. It is costly, inaccurate and a source of great discontent for all those involved, especially for crew themselves.

With a fully automated solution from Rainmaker every airline can take control of crew costs to:

  • Automatically import crew rosters and every schedule change to calculate and display pay to pay administrators and crew.
  • Track all cost variances between published and performed rosters.
  • Provide insights into all categories of crew costs (pay, accommodation, transport) and all related cost variances.
  • Provide complete transparency and access to crew costs.

 

The benefits of taking control are well worth the investment as you will:

  • Reduce costs of administering pay for flight crew by 50% to 80%.
  • Change the role of Pay Administrators from calculating pay to auditing pay.
  • Deal with crew queries online in the moment, not at month end when addressing issues becomes more costly.
  • Improve crew engagement and satisfaction through fully accurate and transparent pay.
  • Provide deep insights into cost variances and how crew costs accumulate enabling continual improvement and better control.
  • Basic, informed interventions can result in 3% to 5%+ savings in overall crew costs.

 

It is essential that airlines transform crew operations by automating pay for flight crew. Making these costs transparent and manageable is no longer a luxury for airlines and is instead fast becoming a vital aid in the effective running of a modern operation. Pay must be accurate and transparent. Cost information should be available and the basis for informed decisions. Flight crew need to be able to trust their pay. They also should be able to see how their pay is progressing as a result of their commitment and productivity. The key stakeholders need visibility and control. They need to understand the cost impacts of their decisions and  know that what they are doing is optimal for safety and success.

Rainmaker provides the world-leading solution for automating pay for flight crew and providing deep insights into where the money goes.

Don’t just take our word for it – Contact us today at: sales@nullrainmaker.aero

Rainmaker achieves ISO 27001 registration

By | General

We are pleased to announce that Rainmaker is now officially ISO 27001 compliant. The team has worked hard to ensure that all of the relevant controls we in place and tested in preparation for the audit.

CERTIFIED MANAGEMENT SYSTEM - ISO 9001:2015


CERTIFIED MANAGEMENT SYSTEM – ISO 9001:2015

Porter in Toronto signs for Crew Analytics

By | General

Porter Airlines who operate out of Billy Bishop Airport signed up for Rainmaker Crew Analytics in September 2017 and have been using the system to manage crew costs and productivity since November 2017. The system provides a broad range of performance metrics that are displayed at the highest level as a series of dashboards all the way to hundreds of pre-calculated measures that can be accessed flexibly by OLAP cube technology.

May 2017 Trans States Holdings goes live with Crew Pay Manager

By | General

Trans States, Compass and GoJet go live with Rainmaker Crew Pay Manager providing a fully automated pay solution for all Pilots and Flight Attendants. This project automates processing for 6 collective labour agreements with full integration to the Lufthansa Netline Crew and Ops++ CMS. The system went live on time and within budget for all three airlines at the same time as the culmination of a 6 month implementation project.