Optimizing and Digitizing Airline Operations with Artificial Intelligence

A unique partnership between Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) has launched an artificial intelligence-based solution shown to improve airline operations worldwide. The jointly developed technology drives growth, accelerates innovation, and streamlines operations to meet the growing demands of today’s travelers.

Optimizing and digitizing airline operations is the key to gaining competitive advantage in the airline industry, as other factors—such as seats, routes, aircrafts—that once set airlines apart have now become commodities. Because this requires a deep understanding of the tradeoffs across cost, operational performance, customer satisfaction, and engagement, off-the-shelf solutions don’t work. Instead, airlines need proven tools, processes, and methodologies tailored to their specific needs, strategy, and targets.

That’s why after years of working together, BCG and KLM have developed a state-of-the-art solution based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced optimization to support global leaders in airline operations, with the aim of creating a better airline industry and more satisfied travelers. This cooperation marks the first time a leading aviation company has joined forces with a top-tier consultancy to bring to market a new service.

Transforming Airline Operations into a Competitive Advantage

There are three common challenges that airline operations currently face: silos, a lack of insights, and a system focus. BCG and KLM’s AI-based tools enable airlines to achieve integrated decision making across departments, leverage state-of-the-art analytics, and keep people at the core of decision making and execution.


  1. Silos. KPIs addressed in isolation, single department mentality between planning and execution cycles, and independent analytics teams.
  2. Lack of Insights. Multiple data sources, meaningless meetings and reports, and reinventing the wheel every day.
  3. System Focus. Limited differentiation and testing, “keep the system running at all cost” mentality, and frontline staff not allowed to use judgement or involved in improvements.


  1. Integral Decisions. Optimizing tradeoffs, integral perspectives on planning and execution, and co-creating and implementing between analytics and frontline staff.
  2. Actionable Insights. Understanding systematic issues and trends, perspectives on both internal and external performance, and support tools with live dashboards acting as a single source of truth.
  3. People Focus. Appetite to test new ideas and fail fast, operations control focus on the most important decisions, and frontline staff are equipped and engaged to decide and inform customers.

With these tools, airlines will be able to tackle the most complex decisions pertaining to fleet, crew, ground services, and network, with a focus on breaking down the typical siloes across these departments—whether it concerns long-term strategic questions, disruption management optimization on the day of operations, or testing new ideas.

Meet BCG’s Experts in Airline Operations

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