Director, Above Wing Operations (SPS), Delta Airlines
Airlines are carrying more customers than ever before; 7% more passengers are flying in 2018 compared to the 4 billion flown in 2017. This growth trend is expected to continue through the next decade as living standards improve, populations migrate around the world, and low-cost carriers put air travel within the financial reach of even more people. Despite cost pressures from fuel prices, both business and leisure demand is strong and pricing is stable in most markets.
However, the expansion of airport facility capacity has not kept pace with the increase in customer demand, especially in the developed world.
Customer preference for airports closer to major city centers and airlines' strategy to operate larger aircraft has created unprecedented operational density. By 2035, roughly twice as many customers will occupy the same amount of airport space compared to today. This puts pressure on raising the efficiency and productivity of systems and processes, but without compromising our core values of safety, reliability and customer comfort.
Airlines have traditionally solved increases in customer volume with increases in labor. However, the performance required to reach the necessary levels of productivity and efficiency is now beyond the capabilities of humans alone. In order to be successful in this increasingly dense operating environment, Delta needs new, thoughtful and clever solutions. These solutions use new technology to enhance the capabilities of our employees to both protect the safety of our operations and improve convenience for our customers. And these solutions are only possible through close collaboration with our technology partners, like NEC.