The airline industry is overcoming the turbulence of the pandemic. In fact, industry net profits are expected to reach $9.8 billion in 2023 – more than double the previous forecast from December 2022. With this growth, airlines are investing in their staff to ensure that services are scaled accordingly whilst maintaining high standards.
In particular, airlines are focusing on upskilling employees, which means providing programs and tools to fill any gaps in employees’ knowledge or capabilities. At a time when more people actively seek to upskill for the future of work, this attention to employee development is crucial. Not to mention, upskilling is especially important in the airline sector to keep up with technological advancements, regulatory compliance, safety protocols, and to retain talent.
To facilitate upskilling, many airlines are embracing AI. The technology can automate the process and deliver key insights, enabling upskilling for large fleets of staff and still tailoring information to individuals’ needs.
These are some examples of how airlines are upskilling employees with AI, and taking team training to new heights.
Air India’s AI platform
Air India is the largest international carrier out of India, and has more than 12,000 employees. This year, the airline launched an AI-driven learning platform for staff called Gurukul.AI. The platform helps staff assess and improve their skills, enabling them to progress within the company. It has over 70,000 advanced learning tools, including educational modules, mobile-learning resources, and video-based courses. Some aspects of the platform are gamified, allowing employees to reap rewards as they upskill – encouraging greater engagement and course completion.
Air India has chosen to invest heavily in digitalization to foster more efficient operations and stronger employee satisfaction. The airline has a five-year transformation plan, concentrating on employee-centric departments to upskill its workforce as best as possible.
A spokesperson for Air India highlighted the importance of providing world-class content through digital innovations to ensure that staff, and the organization as a whole, stay informed and relevant in the rapidly changing digital space around us.
Delta’s Analytics Academy
Delta accounts for 16.3% of the United States’ aviation market and employs 90,000 people. In 2022, the airline established an internal analytics training program, Delta Analytics Academy (DAA), to help workers gain valuable tech skills. The first cohort had 750 applicants including gate agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers, and people from other departments.
The program is centered on how data and analytics can be applied to optimize processes in Delta – and AI is a big part of the curriculum. The program was designed with Georgia State University, and is nine months long. Employees can remain in their full-time role while they participate, and once they finish the training, they have the opportunity to transition into an analytics role.
In the first semester, staff can take the course in their own time from a computer, then in the second semester, they collaborate with the analytics and development team. In the third and final semester, employees undertake an internship at an analytics organization.
Airbus’ Digital Academy
Airbus is one of the most prominent aerospace manufacturers in the world. In 2017, the company announced its open data platform, Skywise, to combine operational data and in-flight engineering to streamline its analytics and business results. To maximize Skywise, Airbus also created a Digital Academy to prioritize education in critical skills like AI, data analytics, and machine learning.
Airbus additionally implemented a framework to help employees become experts in all things data-oriented. The Digital Academy and the Data Analyst Nanodegree program are places to collaborate and grow. Coaching and drop-in sessions supply in-depth, personalized guidance from data scientists. Virtual events broaden employees’ knowledge of the data and AI sphere. And proofs of concept and sprint participation empower staff to apply their takeaways to real-life scenarios in Airbus operations.
So far, over 1,000 Airbus team members from six divisions have completed the framework. Meanwhile, Airbus has experienced a 237% return on investment (ROI) in its upskilling strategy across employee productivity, hiring, and retention.
Emirates’ Immersive Extended Reality
Emirates, known for its innovation, rapidly expanded its workforce in the past year. At the end of its financial year in March 2023, the airline had recruited 17,160 new hires. To accommodate this growth and upskill existing employees, Emirates paired up with Amazon Web Services to develop an immersive Extended Reality platform (iXR), complete with virtual training, 3D virtual hubs, and simulated experiences for cabin crew.
Employees can tap into the platform via wearable and hand-held devices, and can undertake various interactive courses and onboarding. In the virtual realm, employees can take part in digital classrooms, learn from seasoned facilitators and peers, and navigate aircrafts like Emirates’ A380 and Boeing 777. The hyperreal world is designed with sophisticated AI and lets employees extend their understanding of Emirates’ technology, business, and culture.
Singapore Airlines & Fly Arystan upskilling with ELSA
With a combined workforce of ~20,000 employees, Singapore Airlines and Fly Arystan have opted to upskill their teams using AI. Specifically, the airlines have turned to ELSA – the AI-powered, language-learning platform. With ELSA, airline staff receive detailed, customized feedback about their English speaking in real time.
ELSA’s effectiveness lies in its AI, built upon data from people speaking English with various accents, ensuring accurate communication. The technology can therefore identify common errors from English learners and provide more impactful feedback. The AI additionally analyzes users’ behavior and tailors content according to their preferences.
That’s why Singapore Airlines chose ELSA as an innovation partner. Working together with the ELSA, Singapore Airlines launched the first entirely AI-powered English training system for its cabin crew.
AI and upskilling go hand-in-hand because education has no endpoint – it is always evolving. So too, is AI. As the technology is fed more data and more people understand its potential, the more valuable its outcomes are.
AI enhances airline staff upskilling, fostering accessible, advanced learning, and a heightened sense of accomplishment within the organization.
Ready for your airline employee upskilling strategy to take off?