To help passengers enjoy every second of their flights, Alitalia wanted to dodge bad weather for seamless, smooth flying. How could it ensure safe, stress-free journeys for its passengers?
Alitalia uses WSI Fusion to embed real-time weather analytics in its flight dispatch processes—enabling more efficient flight plans and route adjustments while planes are airborne.
70%lift in quality of weather data for smarter flight planning
Increasedpassenger comfort and safety by avoiding difficult flying conditions
Optimizesfuel efficiency, reducing carbon footprint and fuel costs
Business challenge story
Finding a way to weather the storms
For passenger airlines like Alitalia, customer experience plays a central role in differentiating the business from rival carriers and protecting customer loyalty in a highly competitive market. Offering a smooth user experience when customers are booking flights, and providing a high level of service during check-in are important—but above all, passengers remember their experience during the flight itself.
Fabio Ceresani, Flight Dispatcher Duty Manager at Alitalia, explains: “At Alitalia, we make a sophisticated, elegant passenger experience a hallmark of our service. Each year, millions of travelers trust us to fly them to critical business meetings or for family holidays. Our goal is to give them a safe, smooth, comfortable flight every time.”
He continues: “Flying is a nerve-wracking experience for many people, and even good fliers don’t enjoy a bumpy ride through turbulent skies. Adverse weather can also affect other aspects of our flight service, making it more difficult for our crews to serve meals and refreshments, for example. And, of course, we want our flights to arrive on time, which can be difficult when a plane has to fly through bad weather. As the Flight Dispatch team, it’s our job to plan all our flight-paths for the smoothest journey possible, avoiding hostile weather fronts wherever possible.”
At their most severe, weather conditions can force airlines to ground flights, causing huge disruption to the travel plans of millions of passengers. For example, the ash cloud caused by the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010 caused the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights due to safety concerns.
“Not only do we need to factor in the weather conditions at the start of the flight, but throughout the course of the journey too,” says Ceresani. “Some of our long-haul flights last ten hours or more—and weather conditions can change hugely in that time. We need to be ready to adapt and direct our aircraft away from developing weather hazards while the flight is in progress.”
To achieve its goal of landing happy holidaymakers and contented travelers at their destinations, Alitalia wanted to implement intelligent weather data systems to help its flight dispatch teams avoid difficult or hazardous conditions.
“In the past, we relied on weather data supplied by government meteorological services—but so did many other airlines, and it often wasn’t as accurate as we wanted. To ensure our passengers always enjoy a premium service with us, we started to look for a superior weather data solution to help us bypass the heavy weather.”
Smarter systems for smoother flying
After an extensive evaluation of different solutions, Alitalia selected WSI Fusion from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, to provide advanced real-time analytics of weather conditions affecting flight paths.
Fabio Ceresani picks up the story: “We spoke to many weather data suppliers, both in Europe and beyond, in a process that lasted well over a year. Given the impact it had on our customer experience, it was vitally important for us to take the time to pinpoint the very best tool for delivering precise weather data.”
With WSI Fusion installed, the flight dispatch team at Alitalia enjoys highly accurate, early, actionable insights into hazardous weather conditions on flight routes. Moreover, WSI Fusion enables real-time global tracking of each flight’s progress, and integrates with ACARS messaging systems to deliver alert messages from the ground to the crews piloting the planes in case they need to shift course to avoid the dangerous conditions
. “Of all the weather systems we looked at, The Weather Company’s WSI Fusion stood out as by far the superior technical tool. No other solution was tailored to the requirements of the Flight Dispatch team in the same way,” says Ceresani. “It was clear to me that the system was designed and customized specifically to serve the end-users in Flight Dispatch—enabling us to deliver faster, higher quality information to aircrews to ensure a safe, flawless journey for our passengers.
“What really confirmed us in our decision was a conversation with a U.S.-based carrier that had kept many of their aircraft operational at the time of the 2010 volcano eruption. We asked them how they managed it—they said it was simple: they had higher quality weather data than most airlines thanks to WSI Fusion.”
Today, The Weather Company provides Alitalia with expert support services on a 24/7 basis throughout the year, with additional meteorological data available for flight planning whenever required. “We recently needed extra information on a hurricane expected to hit Miami,” says Ceresani. “All we had to do was contact The Weather Company and pass on the data to our pilots—our crews were really impressed with how accurate and valuable the information was.”
Ceresani continues: “Working with The Weather Company continues to be a great experience. The team is always proactive and we have a strong relationship founded on excellent communication. The company is always keen to engage with us at conferences to receive feedback aimed at furthering research into improved weather solutions for us.
“In my many decades in this industry, I have never previously seen their level of dedication to developing new technology and fresh ideas that will transform the passenger experience. The Weather Company’s interest in the needs of their customers is unmatched.”
Happy landings and a greener future
With the expert help of The Weather Company, Alitalia is flying ahead in its mission to plan the smartest flight routes—enabling it to evade poor weather and assure passengers of the highest levels of comfort and safety.
Having previously relied on government meteorological data, Alitalia now receives far more accurate information on adverse conditions and has the capability to direct its aircraft to a more benign flight path. Routes are changed to avoid thunderstorms, turbulence, ice, or dust clouds to keep conditions on board as serene as possible, avoiding risks to the airplane and discomfort for passengers.
Fabio Ceresani explains: “With WSI Fusion, we’re creating calmer, more stress-free journeys. Our weather data is now more precise than government sources 70 percent of the time, and we can combine the two data sets to form the most accurate possible picture of flying conditions. If we had been using this technology in 2010, we estimate only 30 percent of our fleet would be grounded by the Eyjafjallajökull ash-cloud, rather than the 70 percent that was, in fact, kept on the tarmac.”
As the aviation industry faces the introduction of new rules governing flight monitoring, The Weather Company’s WSI Fusion is also keeping Alitalia one step ahead of the regulations.
“As well as giving us weather data, the tracking facility integral to WSI Fusion means we’re ready for the tighter regulations. With WSI Fusion, we’re able to follow our airplanes 24/7, and communicate with our flight crews instantly over 80 percent of the earth’s surface. If a flight runs into difficulties, we are able to help immediately,” adds Ceresani.
Finally, real-time insight into weather data also facilitates the planning of faster, more efficient flight routes—cutting fuel costs and emissions to help Alitalia reduce its carbon footprint.
Ceresani explains: “With a platform for smarter flight paths, we can make massive fuel savings and slash our carbon emissions, which is a major aim across the aviation sector. Since introducing WSI Fusion, we are saving up to 25,000kg of jet fuel per month—so every 60 days we save enough fuel to fly from Rome to New York for free!
“Our work with The Weather Company is helping to drive forward passenger comfort and safety, whilst protecting the environment. Thanks to our close collaboration, our contented passengers reach their destinations happy and ready to enjoy their holidays, or head to their business engagements.”
Alitalia—Società Aerea Italiana, Italy’s largest airline, commenced operations on January 1, 2015 after acquiring the operations of Alitalia—Compagnia Aerea Italiana, now CAI. In its 2016/2017 winter schedule, Alitalia flies to 80 locations—26 domestic and 54 international, with 3,600 weekly flights and 106 routes. Alitalia boasts one of the most modern and efficient fleets in the world. It is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and the Transatlantic Joint Venture with Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines. Alitalia also collaborates with other Etihad Airways Partners.
- T&T: Customer Loyalty, Sales and Service
- T&T: Operations Planning and Optimization
Take the next step
The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is the world’s largest private weather enterprise, helping people make informed decisions—and take action—in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate, personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers and thousands of businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com). The company delivers up to 26 billion forecasts daily. Its products include a top weather app on all major mobile platforms globally; the world’s largest network of personal weather stations; a top-20 U.S. website; the seventh most data-rich site in the world; one of the world’s largest IoT data platforms; and industry-leading business solutions. Weather Means Business™. The world’s biggest brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media, and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business. For more information visit theweathercompany.com and business.weather.com View more client stories or learn more about IBM Analytics