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Insights How is digital transformation changing the aviation industry?

The aviation industry is experiencing change like never before. So how do we capitalise on this transformation, to change the industry for the better? Business Analyst Sara Mennani shares her thoughts on the topic: 

image of Sara smiling

Why do you think it’s important to work in and learn about this industry?

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the aviation industry is being completely transformed. The industry has been put through so much strain, and I expect we’ll see a number of airlines disappearing as well as new ones emerging. Airports will also undergo a huge transformation when it comes to the passenger journey, and technology will be a key driver to this. Thus, I think it is important to get involved in such a key industry which will know an unprecedent revolution over the next few years.
Moreover, the air transport industry (ATI) is a significant enabler to achieving economic growth and development, and we need to ensure that airport infrastructure can handle this demand in an affordable and sustainable way. There’s a lot to do and learn from such a dynamic industry, from digitalisation in the industry and touchless technology in airports to tackling CO2 emissions; there’s a piece of pie for everyone.

What has inspired you in your studies and starting your career?

When I was studying aeronautical engineering at university, the aviation industry was booming and the number of people travelling hit a record high. It motivated me to see how many jobs were created thanks to this industry but also that it made millions of people joyful every year by reconnecting or reuniting them across the globe. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), demand for air travel is expected to almost double by the year 2037, with passenger numbers set to reach 8.2 billion. And meeting this demand will be the challenge of the next generations. Every year I spend working in this sector feels very rewarding, as I believe I am working towards a career in aviation that is stirring and ever evolving.

What are you finding the most interesting; challenging; rewarding so far?

At the moment, the digital transformation that the world is undergoing is quite fascinating. People are adapting to new ways of working, living and travelling. Due to its central role, the air transport industry has grown with and can be identified with globalisation. It enables global trade, international business and tourism, and therefore supports economic growth of all nations. It is hard to imagine if today’s world would be as globalised - or localised - without fast, efficient and convenient airlines.

The current challenge is around the recovery of the industry from the Covid-19 crisis, and I believe it will emerge fundamentally changed. While it’s difficult to say what that will mean and how long it will take, there is a certain amount of optimism in the industry that this will be an opportunity to emerge stronger, healthier and much better prepared for potential future downturns.

Do you think the general public know enough about your industry and its challenges?

Not entirely, people are not fully aware of the digitalisation challenge that airports are currently facing. Despite air traffic being at a standstill, the pandemic has provided an opportunity for technology development and implementation to expedite. Airports collect a huge amount of data every day. When you add that to the data collected by airlines and retailers, it can be overwhelming. Every airport is currently racing towards digitalising their site. This will ultimately determine their rank among the best airports in the world.

Do you feel we’re on track to improve your industry? Or is change needed?

I would say that we are well equipped to surf the wave of digitalisation and automation. From my own experience, most people I’ve met in my field are truly passionate about their profession and they would give their best to their work. People have the right mindset, and we’ve seen in 2020 that despite the most difficult year in the history of aviation, people have not backed down and they are eager to lift the ATI to where it was and more. We have the right ideas and the right people, all we need now is to focus on what’s coming. 

Do you think a programme/project like Faces of the Future is important for the industry and the UK?

Yes, for sure. It’s great to have a programme like this because first it educates people on the current and future challenges faced in various industries, but it also allows people to reflect on what can be done to drive this positive change. Being a future-oriented person allows you to plan ahead and be proactive; as author Alan Lakein said: “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”. Since planning is a crucial part of every project, focusing on the future clearly helps you in achieving your goals.

Take a look at more Faces of the Future blogs, for more innovative and thought-provoking blog

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