The route to lower crew costs and better productivity

By | General, Customers

In our last blog, we looked at the pay process, why it’s broken in many airlines and how you can fix it to improve crew retention and airline profitability. In this blog, we’re moving on to look at how you can control crew costs and enhance productivity to positively impact the performance of your airline — as well as what can happen if you don’t.

It’s a challenging time for airlines right now, with crew shortages and very slim margins. But there are efficiencies that can be found when you manage your flight crew more effectively.

Why is such a huge spend difficult to control?

Although crew costs make up a significant chunk of an airline’s total operating costs — 12% to 15% — many airlines can’t rigorously analyze how crew plans are performing to ensure that this money is well spent. There are several reasons for this. To understand these, we need to first recap the key stages of the flight crew value chain. These are:

  1. Manpower Planning
  2. Training
  3. Crew Planning
  4. Build & Assign Trips
  5. Trip Trading
  6. Day of Operations.

If you want to read more about what’s involved in each stage, check out our previous blog on this topic.

Reason 1 – Missing the right information from Day of Operations

The first barrier that gets in the way of airlines understanding the performance of crew plans and schedules, is missing and inaccurate information. In our experience, airlines rarely have easy access to crucial information from Day of Operations, and it’s usually not in a form that allows them to assess performance, identify issues and refine crew plans. Why? Because the data is dynamic, difficult to extract, and difficult to structure in a way that’s useable. Furthermore, data quality issues add to the pain.

Does this sound familiar to you? Unfortunately, this kind of pay process is all too common, and it is time-consuming, inefficient and frustrating for all involved.

But imagine if your crew management stakeholders could routinely dig into data that showed how the crew schedules actually operated on the day, compared to the plan. They could then answer important questions such as:

  • Which of the planned pairings broke and why?
  • How did operational events impact crew costs?
  • How big is the variation between planned and performed crew costs, and why?
  • Were there any crew shortages or problems with the availability of appropriately qualified crew members?
  • Was there adequate cover for crew sickness, fatigue, or for crew running out of flying hours due to delays?
  • What crew productivity did you achieve versus the plan, and at what cost?

Answering these and many other questions is key to planning and operating more effective flight schedules, which improves crew productivity and drives down costs.

Reason 2 – Disconnected teams and silo culture

Separate functions and teams manage the Crew Planning and Day of Operations stages of the value chain. Each function is specialized and there is a basic handoff from one function to the next. This tends to result in a silo mentality and a linear process for managing flight crew.

Without a proper feedback loop from Day of Operations to Crew Planning, the same problems emerge time and time again. Mistakes are often repeated, and lessons not learned. For example, crew being pulled from scheduled flying duties to train, or the same trip breaking each month because it is poorly planned.  

How this negatively affects airlines

These issues mean there is limited visibility and understanding through the crew value chain of how well the plan performed against operating and profitability objectives. The wider effects of this are:

  • Improvements in the crew value chain are fragmented, marginal and unlikely to achieve an optimal outcome.
  • It is difficult to collaborate and make improvements if the underlying information is unavailable or can’t be trusted.
  • Crew costs are often perceived as uncontrollable and a natural consequence of a dynamic operation, creating inertia and resistance to change.

Given that flight crew are currently a scarce resource, and that crew retention is an issue, improving crew management is critical to success.

How you can improve things

Although common, these problems are not inevitable. Airlines can do several things to improve crew productivity and get more control over their crew costs.

  1. Break down silos and encourage teams to work together towards a common goal. The goal is to operate a more effective crew plan, which will have a positive impact on employee experience as well as the airline’s overall performance and profitability. Communicating how everyone benefits from this, will be key to getting buy-in.
  2. Adopt a continuous improvement culture. Organizations that innovate and look for ways to incrementally improve processes, are generally more successful. Having this as a company value which is embodied by all managers makes a huge difference.
  3. Create ‘one version of the truth’. Important data needs to be pulled from key operational systems and centralized so that everyone is looking at the same, up-to-date information. Getting the right technology in place to do this, is essential.
  4. Harness analytics to gain valuable insights. With centralized data, you will be able to use analytics tools to track KPIs around productivity, crew costs, and schedule disruptions. This helps you diagnose which pairings break and why and learn which areas of the crew plan need adjusting. For instance, are crew absence levels too high? Are reserve crew being properly utilized? Is there excessive deadheading and hotel nights?
  5. Share insights with all relevant teams. The more teams that have access to these insights, the better. Providing appropriate and relevant access to analytics solutions for all stakeholders within the flight crew value chain, means that everyone can understand how well the airline is managing crew productivity and controlling crew costs. This also helps with point 1 — breaking down silos and encouraging joint working towards a common goal. A cloud-based analytics system is best, so it can be easily accessed by all staff, wherever they’re working.

How Rainmaker solutions can help

Rainmaker has two cloud-based solutions that work together to help you lower crew costs, increase productivity and improve crew retention and satisfaction: Crew Pay Manager and Crew Analytics.

Accurate and transparent pay is the foundation for better crew management, and this is made easy with Crew Pay Manager. Data from this solution and other sources then feeds our Crew Analytics solution to reveal the true performance of your flight crew. It pulls data from your core operational systems to report on hundreds of KPIs related to crew costs, crew utilization and crew productivity. You can also drilldown to discover exactly what’s causing cost variances and why pairings are breaking, so you can drive improvements to your flight crew plan.

If you’re ready to take control of your crew costs and productivity, and make a positive impact on retention and profitability, watch our latest webinar recording: Take your crew management to the next level.

Crew retention issues? Fix this one process first

By | General, Customers

Recruiting and retaining flight crew is currently one of the biggest challenges facing the airline industry. It’s estimated there will be a shortage of 300,000 pilots within a decade (source) and that a worrying 63% of pilots plan to switch careers in the next year — up from 44% in 2020 (source).

On top of this, there’s the struggle to remain profitable. Thankfully, the profitability forecast for commercial aviation has significantly improved in recent months, but margins remain very slim (1.2% or just $2.25 per passenger — source.) As Wille Walsh, IATA’s Director General said, “repairing damaged balance sheets and providing investors with sustainable returns on their capital will continue to be a challenge for many airlines.”

It’s therefore crucial that airlines do all they can to enhance the employee experience so they retain crew, at the same time as getting the most from their crew so they can protect margins. But where do you start?

We suggest you focus on one key process first — ensuring your airline has an accurate, efficient and transparent crew pay process.

The traditional pay process is broken

Ensuring you pay your flight crew accurately and on time is the best — and most obvious — way to motivate them. Yet many airlines fail to achieve it. Why?

The key challenge comes from the Collective Agreements that dictate the rules for paying flight crew. These have become more and more complicated over time, which means that calculating pay in the typical way (using a combination of manual and automated processes) is now costly and prone to error. In our experience, a traditional pay process for an airline looks like this:

  • Pay is usually calculated at the end of the bid period and processed through to payroll.
  • Flight crew have no visibility of their pay until they get a statement after month end.
  • The pay statement is often incorrect leading to a back-and-forth dialogue with pay administrators.
  • Eventually issues are resolved, and everyone moves on to the next period to repeat the process.
  • Finance managers have no opportunity to understand cost variances and intervene, so the experience remains the same.


Does this sound familiar to you? Unfortunately, this kind of pay process is all too common, and it is time-consuming, inefficient and frustrating for all involved.


Why that’s disastrous for airlines

When airlines fail to pay crew accurately first time around, it creates several major issues:

  • Crew satisfaction and morale takes a hit. Inaccurate pay immediately erodes trust and damages the relationship between crew and the airline. While employees might forgive a one-off error, they’ll be much less amenable if mistakes keep happening. So don’t be surprised if your retention levels plummet.
  • When challenged, many airlines overpay. By adopting an ‘if in doubt, overpay’ policy, carriers try to minimize fallout. However, it can cost the airline dearly, and it still fails to improve trust with flight crew. Profitability and staff retention are both negatively impacted in this scenario.
  • Disputes and queries waste everyone’s time. Many airlines spend the two weeks after payroll is completed dealing with pay disputes and queries. Email and call volumes peak at these times. It’s a huge drain on time and resources.
  • Unions often become involved. When pay disputes lead to formal processes being triggered, the challenges and costs further increase.

At a time when the relationship between an airline and its flight crew can often be adversarial, failing to pay crew correctly the first time, further erodes trust in the relationship.

How you can fix it

Don’t despair, there is a way through! By redesigning processes and harnessing the latest technology, it’s possible for airlines to pay flight crew accurately every time.

Firstly, you need to create the capability to calculate and process pay accurately according to all your complex pay rules and scenarios. This requires a fully automated system, which has been built specifically for the purpose.

Secondly, it’s vital to make your pay process more transparent. If you make it easy for crew members to understand their pay and see how it’s accruing after each shift, you can build trust, reduce disputes, and increase motivation, retention and loyalty. If you can also provide transparency to financial managers in near real-time — through reporting and analysis of crew pay — they can understand variances and spot issues earlier, such as scheduling inefficiencies. This transparency is best achieved with a cloud-based crew pay system, so it’s easily accessible for all staff, wherever they’re working.

Finally, it’s still important to offer ways for crew members to query their pay — even though this is much less likely to happen. It needs to be a fast, easy process, so problems can be resolved right away. Harnessing instant communication tools here, is the way to go.

How Rainmaker solutions can help

Rainmaker’s Crew Pay Manager solution transforms your pay process, increasing accuracy levels to 99%+ and reducing the associated labor costs by 80%. It’s an automated cloud-based solution providing transparency to all stakeholders involved in the pay process — crew members, finance managers, and Unions all love it.

As well as calculating and processing pay, it includes Crew Pay Analyzer — for high-level KPI tracking and in-depth analysis of crew pay costs — and an online system for logging and resolving queries fast.

If you’re ready to take control of your crew pay, and learn other ways to get the most from your crew, watch our latest webinar: Take your crew management to the next level

rainmaker is now a part of skymetrix

Rainmaker acquired by Skymetrix to provide a “one-stop-shop” for airline cost efficiency 

By | General, Customers

Skymetrix, the leading global provider of aviation fuel and cost management solutions, has today announced its acquisition of Rainmaker Business Technologies, providing a “one-stop-shop” for airline cost efficiency as the industry returns to profitability.

By joining forces, we can now offer airlines the broadest unified suite of solutions from one vendor, covering all the major flight-related costs — fuel, crew, ground handling, airport, and navigation. Rainmaker will also be able to leverage greater resources and accelerate its international growth.

The entire Rainmaker team, including CEO Brendan Fuller and CTO Anthony Carville, are staying with the company.

CEO of Rainmaker, Brendan Fuller, said:

“The aviation industry is under serious pressure to attract and retain flight crew. Scheduling and managing flight crews is complex and crew schedules are constantly changing. Rainmaker crew pay and analytics solutions deal with that dynamic to pay crew accurately, provide transparency, help airlines improve the relationship with crew, and support better decision making in Day of Operations.”

“It makes perfect sense to combine our expertise on crew lifecycle management with Skymetrix; a company that shares our vision to transform airline operations with innovative technology. Our combined offering simplifies airline operations, gives the airline better control of costs, and helps unlock even more productivity and efficiency gains for our customers.”

rainmaker is now a part of skymetrixMichael Scheidler, CEO of Skymetrix, said:

“The airline business is undergoing an exciting transition. As airlines rebuild from the pandemic, they are also looking to adopt new innovative technologies and ways of working. It is vital for airlines to progressively manage down their costs and risk as they undergo this shift. By combining Skymetrix with Rainmaker’s solutions for ‘all things crew,’ we can provide airlines with a clear line of sight to their full operations for the first time – enabling them to cut costs and create the space for sustainable growth.”

Rainmaker and Skymetrix will continue to operate as two separate brands for the next 12 months, with the aim to come together under one brand in 2024. However, in the background, we will be working on maximizing any short-term synergies that can deliver benefits quickly. For instance, integration between Rainmaker and Skymetrix products.

We will be communicating with our customers in the coming days to explain what this acquisition means for them, and how to find out more.

Who is Skymetrix?
Headquartered in Germany, Skymetrix has a vision to power the aviation industry to sustainable growth. Its cloud-based platform gives airlines a new way to improve fuel and cost management and delivers benefits that are critical success factors for any aviation business: lower costs, enhanced efficiency, and greater profitability.

With over 20 years’ experience in aviation, 100+ customers — including Air France-KLM, Cathay Pacific, DHL, Emirates, Lufthansa, and Ryanair — plus well-established strategic partnerships with industry bodies like IATA, Skymetrix has become a global leader in the sector.

Skymetrix was borne out of a merger in 2021 between Airpas Aviation — the leader in cost management for airport, ground handling and navigation charges — and FuelPlus, the industry leader in fuel administration and cost management for airlines. The Rainmaker acquisition marks the latest chapter in Skymetrix’s strategy to be the global leader in airline lifecycle management, with further announcements to follow this year.

Optimising the Flight Crew Value Chain for Enhanced Efficiency

By | General, Customers, Technology

Every airline can significantly enhance its operational efficiency by applying insights from day-to-day operations and events to the flight crew value chain. This optimisation process is essential for making the most of the flight crew as a scarce resource. By effectively managing the flight crew value chain, airlines can ensure they are meeting the demands of their operations without compromising on performance.

flight crew value chain

The flight crew value chain can be represented by the following stages:

1. Manpower Planning: This crucial first step is guided by factors such as network and fleet planning, commercial market strategies, routes, city pairs, target yields, and overall productivity. It establishes the flight crew requirements by determining the necessary number of crew members based on their location, qualifications, and categories.

2. Training: Once the manpower plan is in place, recruitment and training needs are identified. This ensures that current crew members remain up-to-date and qualified for their designated aircraft, while new flight crew members receive adequate training to efficiently fulfil the growing demand.

3. Crew Planning: In this phase, flight crew members are assigned to specific trips, resulting in actual crew schedules. Schedule optimisers and IT systems facilitate the automation of the crew assignment process throughout the flying programme.

4. Build & Assign Trips: During this step, flight crew schedules are created, and crew members are assigned to trips based on their qualifications and the airline’s requirements. IT systems and schedule optimisers play a crucial role in streamlining the process.

5. Trip Trading: Flight crew members are allowed to trade assigned trips according to predefined rules, providing flexibility and accommodating personal preferences while maintaining operational efficiency.

6. Day of Operations: The crew schedule becomes the central focus during the day of operations. Any adjustments or changes to the schedule must be managed and recorded in the crew management system. Effective communication with crew members and accurate accounting for these changes are essential to ensure smooth operations.

To optimise the flight crew value chain, airlines must routinely ask the following questions:

• How effective was the manpower plan? Were there enough appropriately qualified crew in the required locations?

• How robust was the plan, and how often did it break? Can trips and pairings be planned differently to increase robustness?

• What is the productivity of the crew? How many block hours were produced versus the plan? What are the costs per block hour? What productivity is obtained from reserve or standby crew across the network?

Answering these questions enables airlines to refine their planning processes, ensuring better performance outcomes.

flight crew value chain - rainmaker

Rainmaker offers a suite of tools that facilitate this diagnostic process and provide valuable feedback for continuous improvement:

Rainmaker Crew Pay Manager automates pay calculation and processing, comparing budgeted pay costs with actual costs and allowing airline staff to dive into pay variances for deeper understanding.

Rainmaker Crew Analytics combines crew pay costs with accommodation and positioning costs, offering a complete picture of flight crew-related expenses. This tool generates numerous KPIs, enabling finance professionals and airline analysts to assess operational performance in depth.

By leveraging Rainmaker’s tools, airlines gain valuable insights based on operational facts, allowing them to improve every aspect of the flight crew planning process. Without these capabilities, airlines risk repeating planning weaknesses and missing out on opportunities for continuous improvement.

In a competitive market where flight crew resources are limited, airlines must understand and optimise their crew value chain to support their operations effectively. Rainmaker’s innovative tools and data-driven insights ensure no airline is ‘flying blind’ when it comes to managing their flight crew.

Weather Bomb: Improving Airline Resilience During Extreme Weather Events

By | Customers, General

Climate change is causing more frequent and severe weather events, and airlines are increasingly facing challenges from these disruptive forces. The recent weather bomb and ice storms in North America have caused significant disruptions across airline networks, leading to flight cancellations, displacement of passengers, crew, and aircraft, and significant costs to airlines.

These events can place a huge strain on airline operations, throwing a significant spanner in the works. The costs for airlines are significant and spread throughout the operation, including flight cancellations, increased passenger care, compensation for crew displacement and overtime, as well as Day of Operations staff working around the clock to recover the operation. Unfortunately, once the network is recovered, that is not the end of the story.

Flight crew need to be accurately compensated for the levels of schedule disruption experienced and their efforts to aid network recovery.

Day of Operations staff want to diagnose how the operation performed down to the individual decisions that were made and how those decisions impacted or fed into the recovery.

Finance teams need to understand the impacts of what has happened, how the recovery was handled, and the impacts on operating costs.

Weather bomb: Airplane in snow

At Rainmaker, we understand the challenges of managing airline operations during irregular events like a weather bomb. Our solutions can help airlines recover quickly and cost-effectively, while providing complete accuracy for crew costs and tracking hundreds of KPIs relating to how flight crew are being deployed and utilised within the operation.

Flight Crew

Rainmaker Crew Pay Manager provides automated pay for flight crew in near real-time, ensuring that every schedule change is automatically processed to provide up-to-date and accurate pay, even during extreme weather events like a weather bomb. Crew Pay Manager also provides forecasts, insights, and details that show the costs of events to the operation, which are immediately available for operations and finance personnel to manage.

Day of Operations Staff

In addition, our Crew Analytics solution tracks what is happening with flight crew in Day of Operations, providing granular details on crew costs and insights into crew utilisation and productivity. During a weather bomb event, Crew Analytics can track disrupted pairings, analyse the costs of disruption and recovery, and provide data to support better decision-making.

Finance Teams

Every airline aims to constantly improve operational performance. Rainmaker solutions are essential enablers of this by providing complete accuracy for crew costs and tracking hundreds of KPIs relating to how flight crew are being deployed and utilised within the operation. Our solutions help motivate flight crew to take the best available actions in a crisis and help operations managers make the best decisions to ensure the airline operation is robust and can cope with extreme weather events like a weather bomb.

In Conclusion

Weather bombs and irregular operations will continue to challenge airlines in the future. However, with Rainmaker solutions, airlines can be better prepared to cope with these challenges and improve their operational performance. Let us help you build resilience into your airline operation today, so you can weather any storm.

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:

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:


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:

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.




Rainmaker is now a part of the Skymetrix family.