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Gatwick CIO plans to harness big data and make airport 'the Uber of aviation'

15/01/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


Gatwick Airport is developing a new service that it claims will be the "Uber of air travel", after analysing big data and determining that it's something that passengers want.

That's according to Gatwick Airport chief information officer Michael Ibbitson, who was speaking at WANdisco's Big Data Breakfast event at London's City Hall. Ibbitson has previously discussed his enthusiasm for data and analytics in an interview with Computing, with the airport harnessing big data to provide passengers with the best service possible.

And the Gatwick CIO signalled that he intends to keep basing strategy on big data, detailing how, thanks to analysis of passenger data, the airport is preparing to offer an entirely new service for flight transfers.

"Gatwick has over 200 destinations served - compared to 185 for Heathrow - and if you add to that the railway station, we have a huge transportation hub," Ibbitson explained.

"However, we don't have one of the major alliances operating out of Gatwick, but does that mean people aren't transferring? We suspected that wasn't the case."

Ibbitson described how passengers were asked about their flight plans and whether they were using Gatwick to transfer by purchasing a single ticket to the airport then using another single to get to their destination.

"To our surprise, there were far more people than we ever imagined doing it," he said. "The reason they're doing it is because they're smart consumers and they find two flights that are cheaper via Gatwick than a through flight by one of the alliances through Heathrow."

Ibbitson told the audience how Gatwick Airport therefore examined search data to determine how people were going about booking these self-connected flights.

"We used a data analytics lab and brought our data about what we knew the passengers were doing themselves and we brought their search data and compared the two sets to see what the potential market might be and how those two datasets were put together."

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