The Kambr Aero 80: Bringing Airlines Into The Age Of Alternative Data

Disclaimer: Although the data used in the Aero 80 has been produced from public sources believed to be reliable, the 2019 Passengers (PAX) numbers are an estimation, no warranty is made regarding accuracy, adequacy or completeness of this information. Errors/Bugs may occur and changes may be periodically added to the information herein. With questions, corrections & recommendations please get in touch here

Data partners: We are constantly evaluating new datasets for the Aero 80, if you would like to partner with us get in touch here

Introducing the Kambr Aero 80

The 80 airlines selected in this index strike regional and business model balance. On a periodic basis, we will update the inclusions to maintain a high degree of relevance. After all, things change, and this is the aviation business. Financial markets offer an example: The S&P 500, The Dow Jones Industrial Average, etc. These subset indexes provide guidance to overall health and trajectory. Our goal for commercial aviation is no different with the Kambr Aero 80.

Well before the pandemic plunge, we at Kambr Inc., were already heavy users of Slack and Zoom.  

Our widely distributed team required digital means of communication and collaboration to promote camaraderie and productivity. The conversations and topics often veer from the traditional – outdated – definition of work.

In our workspace, you would find articles and snippets of wisdom; videos and songs; jokes, accolades and shame. And in the #travel channel, we logged experiences from around the world. Here, Kambrians shared photos and stories from airports, airplanes, hotels, restaurants and bars. With us from the earliest moments, in the blink of an eye this cherished space mutated from frenetic to catatonic.  

Within the Kambrsphere, there is no greater testament to what we have lost and long to regain.

From time to time, I scroll through this compendium of trips and outings.  

As the crisis deepened, I was drawn to a post from my fellow co-founder, Martin Kaduc. Aboard United, traveling from Amsterdam to Houston, Martin took advantage of inflight WiFi to air his grievances with the ‘“last hour”’; that frustrating period towards the end of the journey when you yearn to arrive: – land, deplane, get out.  

The frequency of visits to the inflight entertainment system’s moving map increases exponentially. Curiously, this impulse is relative. It will take hold of me during the sixth hour of a JFK-Heathrow hop, but leave me free from anxiety until the eleventh hour of the following day’s journey to Cape Town.  

As people, we connect with our destination – where are we going? We anchor it in time – how close are we to arrival? And no one likes an itch that cannot be scratched.

Imagine! At the last minute, you must embark on an unplanned trip. You are completely unprepared: no baggage, limited means at your disposal. To make matters worse, you check in only knowing your destination is one of many.  

You depart with a broad range of possibilities as to the duration of your flight. To top it off, your attempts to shed light on these unknowns is greeted with reams of – sometimes contradictory – information presented without commentary or context. How do you feel? Overwhelmed? Disheartened? Except, none of us has to use our imagination to envision such a scenario. We are living it, every day.

Two months ago, some places earlier, some later, we enplaned at Normal International Airport. Boarding was chaotic; most of us caught entirely flatfooted. We took off in a ferocious storm, fear and uncertainty dominating the mood.  

We have now settled into an uneasy cruise, punctuated by occasional bouts of turbulence.  

The destination on the boarding pass says “New Normal International”; you hear that term repeated all the time. And yet, nobody seems to know where that is or how long it will take to get there.  

Traditional data sets offer clues but are open to a plethora of interpretations. The sources available are extensive. The volume of material is staggering.  

To determine a heading, the industry needs a representative index transforming alternative data into directional insights.
The Aero 80, a multi-sourced index charting the levels of capacity and demand across 80 airlines is our answer to that challenge.

Enter the Kambr Aero 80

Many venerable organizations and vendors have opened access to their data.; Some have even unveiled new dashboards and reports at no cost.

These efforts are needed and should be commended.  

With so many initiatives underway, why should Kambr raise its voice? We are equally passionate about data at Kambr. Still, we love actionable data even more. By launching the Aero 80, we believe we can add value in three pivotal areas:

  1. Focus
  2. Aggregation
  3. Context

There are thousands of airlines in the world. When limited to scheduled, commercial carriers there are still hundreds.  

Despite this, a majority of the world’s four billion passengers in 2019 were transported by a few dozen airlines. Could a representative subset of airlines provide accurate indicators while streamlining the available data to a more consumable quantity? We think so.  

Willingness-To-Pay Eclipsed By Willingness-To-Fly

The 80 airlines selected strike regional and business model balance. On a periodic basis, we will update the inclusions to maintain a high degree of relevance. After all, things change, and this is the aviation business. Financial markets offer an example: The S&P 500, The Dow Jones Industrial Average, etc. These subset indexes provide guidance to overall health and trajectory. Our goal for commercial aviation is no different with the Kambr Aero 80.

Willingness-to-pay is at the heart of revenue management. The pre-existence of demand has been, more or less, taken for granted. No longer.  

Willingness-to-fly, perhaps even ability-to-fly must now be inserted into the passenger equation.  

An abundance of indicators have been proposed to illuminate the workings of these variables. Kambr’s team has selected those we believe most applicable for aggregation into a single metric.

They include traditional sources – which is why we started with schedule data, which remains the bedrock of RM – and the innovative, such as sentiment data.  

We intend to always reveal our sources and partnerships. More open equals more useful.

Data can be powerful, but those familiar with the quip ‘“garbage in, garbage out”’ understand its limitations. Context matters.  

For this reason, Aero80 dashboards will be accompanied by expert commentary from Kambr Advisory’s experienced airline operators. We will also leverage Kambr Media to explore topics generated by Aero 80 insights in greater detail. We have designed the Aero80 giving greatest consideration to the needs of airline commercial staff based on our experience and many contributions from our industry colleagues and friends.  

The Who, The How & Who Else

Those industry colleagues, friends and operators – that’s our initial target audience.  

Thinking back to my days in the hot seat, the pertinent data was straightforward. Bookings pace (recent and year-over-year), forecast comparisons and competitive information – the basis of most decisions.  

Today, and for months, maybe years to come, much of this will be useless. Analysts, managers, executives all need reliable new inputs.

We are entering an alternative data age.

Why is one airline redeploying capacity when others are not? Where are fare flexibility conditions being extended? In what region is consumer confidence in airlines and travel returning? The answers to these questions can lead to revenue impacting actions when traditional sources alone offer little guidance.

As we integrate the identified data and enhance our algorithm via an iterative approach, we envisage the Aero 80 delivering benefits to entirely new sectors.  

For certain, the rest of the travel economy – hotels, car rentals, tour operators – would be advanced by airline intelligence. Historically, travel has also served as a leading indicator for economic activity.  

If that pattern holds, then anything we can uncover and relate via the Aero 80 may also serve the interests of economy watchers and financial analysts.

The Long Term Mission

Much has been made of the application of alternative data to the present crisis: understanding the bottom, anticipating the uptick, predicting the trend. It makes sense. That is the pressing issue of today.  

But what about tomorrow?  

Aviation, and travel as a whole, has been on the cusp of transitioning to the incorporation of new data sources and real-time response. Certainly, these efforts have value in managing the effects of the pandemic.  

Yet, the long-term lesson (as with many things exposed by COVID) is that we should not return to yesterday. The integration of alternative data and new algorithms into commercial optimization software is one such way. To support this future, Aero 80 will also grow.

Although we are launching the Aero 80 with global and regional level data, we are capturing and storing information at a far more granular level – down to the flight. This will open many doors for more detailed analysis.  

Staying true to the other tenets of Kambr Media’s motto – conversation and community, not just content – we want the Aero 80 to generate discussion and debate.  

We hope to add new features and functionality that boost industry education via courses and shared learning resources.  

At Kambr, our mission is to unconstrain airline operators, leaders and travelers. And we do it through a hub of software, consultancy and content. Though this is just the start, we believe the Aero 80 will contribute to doing just that.  

We want to hear what you think. So, go ahead, pull up our moving map and keep coming back. Together, we will figure out that destination.