AI in weather forecasting, prediction and communication
As it flies travelers to destinations worldwide, Alitalia wants its passengers to enjoy a comfortable, relaxing trip every time. With WSI FusionTM, Alitalia can reroute flights in real time to avoid turbulence and other adverse weather—providing a world-class experience that lets passengers disembark with a satisfied “grazie” on their lips.
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.”