At Keflavik International Airport, a machine-learning-based forecasting solution´s unique live re-forecasting capabilities are vital in keeping operations running smoothly, even when faced with unforeseen situations.
We asked Thordis Bjørnsdottir, Operation Research Specialist at Isavia, how the solution has helped improve operations.
Why did you implement a forecasting solution?
“We experienced considerable success with Veovo’s Passenger Predictably technology, which gives us complete airport-wide passenger flow insights. These have helped us streamline multiple processes and significantly reduced our manual forecasting workload. So, when Veovo demonstrated the benefits of their new forecasting solution, including per-flight forecasting and live re-forecasting, we saw great benefits in adding this to our system. At the time, we faced exponential growth in passenger numbers, and we felt that this addition would enable us to better match capacity with demand.”
How does the solution help reduce the impact of unforeseen developments?
“It has proven valuable due to how rapidly situations change during unexpected events. The live re-forecasting capabilities provide an early heads-up on changes to passenger presentation profiles per flight. It always reflects and re-forecasts based on the current situation, allowing us to easily adapt plans and rosters, improving journeys and keeping costs down.”
“For instance, we could spot deviations in passenger show-up behaviour in our security control. Passengers were arriving later than usual during the pandemic. Because of the data’s immediate nature, we could see the deviation between the forecast and actual and react and adjust the forecast accordingly.
What does the solution do in practice?
“It draws data from multiple sources, including various sensor technologies, AODB, boarding pass scans and more. This creates an accurate by-flight picture of how our passengers move throughout the terminal. It allows us to forecast more accurately for days, weeks, and even months ahead. And, as it continually re-forecasts, we are alerted immediately when predetermined thresholds are reached. Resourcing and operational actions are recommended to minimise bottlenecks and prevent crowding, for example, by adjusting call-to-gate time, changing border or control lane openings.”
“It also allows us to understand the cause of the deviation from the plan, which could be anything from a late arrival, to a slower-than-predicted security process. This insight is then fed back into the future plan to continually improve forecast accuracy, based on local conditions.”
Which unique features of the system have stood out to you?
“Although the system is automated, by changing certain parameters, we can adapt the forecast based on the current situation in the airport. We can test new KPIs quickly, assume process times and more, and compare these to plans that use different assumptions. We can easily adjust our forecasts by adding an unforeseen event to the calendar – for example, the implementation of new travel restrictions to specific destinations – which the system recognises and treats as unusual and unique. We have the opportunity, at any time, to create a new plan and compare it to the one in production.”
“Live re-forecasting is, however, the most outstanding feature of the system. It continuously considers all variables of the current situation – such as queue length, scheduling, actual passenger counts and wait times – and compares them to the daily forecast. It then provides an updated passenger forecast and capacity plan every few minutes. By simply understanding how the actual situation deviates from expectations, we can almost instantly see the potential effects and mitigate these. Live re-forecasting provides the most accurate insights to make these decisions, based on the right information.”
In what ways have the systems made your job easier?
“The system is automatic and has been customised to accommodate our access to data and planning needs. It requires no manual work or specialised skills, giving us more time for evaluation and adjustments to improve future plans. All forecast changes or adjustments that we have to make are accessible and easily managed in the system.”
“Also, we always get positive and quick responses from the Veovo team. Their attitude and level of service have been superb from the start. Changes or new ideas are always welcomed, and their input and knowledge are invaluable to us.”
How does the forecast evaluation in previous systems compare to the new system?
“Previously, evaluations were not very accessible and called for a lot of manual work. Data from multiple systems had to be collated into one Excel file before evaluating. We did not have much input on how the forecasts were produced.”
“Now it is accessible and presented visually per flight, and we no longer need to gather data from multiple systems. We can compare our forecast against actual and easily calculate the accuracy of the forecasts in whatever desired resolution, for instance, per hour, day, week, etc.”
How easy is sharing information/plans/data with shareholders compared to previous systems?
“The configurable dashboard makes information and data-sharing much easier. We can share dashboards, create reports or share future forecasts and “what if” scenarios. With partners like security, border control, retailers and ground handling, we can create unique restricted accounts for specific data-sharing. They are also kept informed about passenger show-up and potential operational impacts.”
What ongoing challenges do you expect the solution will help solve?
“More than anything else, the system has proven it can help us handle the most unpredictable and volatile situations efficiently and safely. We still see great expansion possibilities for our current forecasting solution. With our Kerb-to-Flight passenger flow management, we can produce forecasts for all areas and processes throughout the airport. Setting up forecasting in a new area is quick and easy. Our next step will be to implement occupancy forecasting at duty-free and other open areas of the airport.”
How does this solution help you assure passengers they can travel safely?
“This system is a game-changer. When situations are volatile and can change quickly, we need to keep the planning window as short as possible. To make safe, accurate planning decisions, we must base them on live Information. Thanks to the system’s ability to accurately reflect the current situation, we can manage transport growth. These capabilities will help our visitors feel confident in the safety of air travel.”