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This insightful panel highlighted the numerous opportunities generated by artificial intelligence (AI)—a much-hyped term but, perhaps, rightly so.

It was noted that AI is decades old, but the difference today is the computing power that allows AI to function to its full capabilities. Insights that might take months or even years for a human to realize can be seen by AI in a matter of minutes. Indeed, making sense of the plentiful data that has always been in airline hands was likened to looking for a needle in a haystack. AI is a magnet that helps airlines find that needle. As such, it will help the industry extract latent value in the coming years.

AI is versatile and can assist airlines in disparate areas, from safety to operational efficiency and from resiliency to the customer experience. The dream of a bespoke travel experience for every customer will only be possible with AI fully implemented.

Nevertheless, the panel emphasized that AI is just a tool and that accessible, quality data is the real pot of gold.

It was also noted that AI should be part of a business strategy and not just a technology for the IT department. AI’s ability to transform is such that its use has to be discussed in the boardroom. New revenue streams, different business models, and innovative operational changes could all result from AI. In fact, airlines should think of AI as an exponential technology not an incremental one. Suddenly, new use cases will open up.

Aside from the technical challenges, the panel agreed that bringing staff along on the AI journey will be key. The technology must be used in the right way so that it empowers people rather than disenfranchises them.

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