Category Archive: The Node

  1. Set up for success and prepare for challenges on your digital transformation journey.

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    The best part of my job is to visit our customers and meet them in person. It allows me to have longer conversations about what is going on in their business and what questions and thoughts they have for the future. It was a lot of fun to also join in on the country vibe at this year’s Schedulers & Dispatchers conference in Nashville. 

    My main take-away from meeting my US clients is the uncertainty on where demand will go for the rest of the year and how the global economic climate will affect them. The insights we’ve shared from Avinode Group say that we are seeing a slight drop in demand during the first months of 2023 and that is also something our customers worry about.

    It makes sense to prepare now for a possible uptick before the summer. Introducing more automations and digital best practices makes a difference and can be a real time-saver during busy times.

    No matter if demand increases again, or turns out lower than expected, I recommend keeping these things in mind:

    Explore data integrations to simplify your key workflows.

    Operators of all sizes are now increasingly interested in using open APIs and integrations, which makes a lot of sense. According to a recent Apigee study, 65% of organizations have accelerated their digital transformation journeys during the pandemic.

    We host a lot of data that can be leveraged through custom solutions and integrations. It can help to create new revenue streams but also increase efficiencies as more companies work remote. The use of open APIs also saves a lot of time and effort when you need to transfer data over to a new software solution.

    Increase transparency and collaboration.

    I know from my own experience that the collaboration between the charter sales and flight scheduling departments is where a lot of efficiencies can be achieved. When you get a pop-up trip, it’s important to have a good real-time overview of your crew’s duty so that you can quickly assign the right crew.

    This year, we’re also launching a new and improved workflow from quote to payment, which further simplifies the collaboration between teams. It also makes it easier for the buyer to compare options and pay for a trip.

    Communicate your business strategy and goals clearly.

    When you communicate with external software providers, be clear on what you are trying to achieve and how you create business value. When a customer communicates clearly to us what they need, it is so much easier for us to help them grow their business.

    One of our most valuable assets is our team that has a lot of first-hand business aviation experience – from dispatchers to pilots and payments experts. Having the industry background makes a huge difference when helping our users to efficiently keep track of their flight operations.

    Invest in your customer relations.

    A fully digital and transparent charter workflow will allow your team to invest more time in what matters to you – your customers. The aim is to take a lot of manual work off the hands of your staff, from dispatch to crew and finance.

    Genesis Dela Cruz is Account Executive with Avinode Group’s US team, based in Florida, and works primarily on our flight operations solutions. Genesis joined Avinode Group in 2019, after working as Charter Sales Manager out of Los Angeles, CA.

  2. Alex Hanrahan – Providing solutions to high-flying problems with her roots firmly planted in aviation.

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    Alex, tell us about yourself and what you do at Avinode Group.

    I’m a Senior Product Manager with Avinode Group, part of our US-based Product and Engineering team. I work primarily with our flight operations solution, Schedaero. Most of my colleagues are based in Portland, OR, but I’m based in Florida. I love the sunshine, water-related sports and activities, so I’m in the right place.

    I was so excited to join Avinode Group, since this job combines my background in both private aviation charter and software development. It’s the perfect combination of these two passions of mine.

    That background must help you understand the challenges of our customers.

    Yes, I believe it does. It gives me an inherent understanding of some of the problems that our customers face.  I love being able to relate to the end user and give them a tool that makes their lives better. I’ve worked with everything from fueling aircraft, to flight scheduling, in a broker company and as Director of Charter Sales. I also worked with development of the Satcom Direct product, so I have seen many different parts of the industry.

    What are some of the challenges you would like to help solve?

    Communication between the front office of a flight department and the pilots is a very common challenge. Information and details are often dropped when there are constant updates going back and forth. We have several updates planned for our crew app, that will make it a tool you can’t live without.

    Charter operations is complex with many moving parts and many systems inherit that high complexity. It requires a lot of training to run the operation smoothly. That’s why I’m excited to work with the user interface of our products. We have a clear ambition to provide an easier day-to-day workflow with an intuitive user interface in our platform.

    What is a typical working day like in your role as PM?

    The day to day changes – the consistent aspect of every day is a development team standup. I love to sync up and check-in with the teams that work on the improvements and new features we are building, Also talking to customers and working with our amazing customer success team to help understand the end users wants and needs, is really wonderful.

    What surprised you in the Avinode Group work culture?

    It’s impressive how we manage to stay connected between teams, especially considering that we are mostly working remote. We have fun ways to share information over Slack and bring individuals closer that wouldn’t typically work together. In Zoom meetings I’ve noticed that everyone have their camera switched on. It helps our social culture and relationship-building to see all the smiling faces!

  3. Is the future of payments instant and alternative?

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    We are living in unprecedented times and Oliver King, CEO of Avinode Group, talked about several factors affecting our industry in this yearly review at the end of 2022. Even though the business aviation industry has been somewhat immune to economic downturn, the last years’ covid pandemic and the following energy crisis have had a massive impact on people globally and left no industry unaffected.

    We sat down with Patrick Lucy, Account Manager Team Lead – EMEAA, to discuss his view on the current state of our industry and how alternative payment methods can be part of the solution.

    Patrick, how can new payment solutions provide security in an uncertain business climate?

    Stepping away from the comfort of your traditional bank might feel daunting in uncertain times. But many other B2B sectors have already taken the step into a new comfort zone where payments are made faster, easier, and more securely.

    In recent years, the developments in open banking solutions and alternative payment methods have exploded. In this McKinsey report from 2022, it’s also clear just how quickly the payments industry has rebounded after the pandemic. Electronic payment transactions are predicted to grow even faster in the coming years. This is driven by businesses always looking for solutions to lengthy cross-border payment cycles when using traditional payment methods.

    Is the business aviation industry back to pre-pandemic levels yet?

    In Avinode we’re still seeing higher demand for air charter globally than pre-pandemic levels in 2019. We’re also seeing an increased number of smaller brokers and operators joining Avinode. The business aviation industry is traditionally slow in adopting new digital technology, but in challenging times we see that more business leaders are looking for efficiencies and ways to speed up their supply chain with the use of technology.

    A potential global economic downturn means we all need to focus on cutting costs as well as finding ways to increase data security. At times of economic uncertainty, there is usually an uptick in attempted fraud and identity theft when bad actors take advantage of the turmoil. That’s why we take security and compliance so seriously in Avinode Group, and are building a trusted network where payments can flow freely.

    What does this mean for the air charter space?

    The payment flow from end client to charter operator is certainly at the core of the air charter business. That’s why we believe this is so important. During the global pandemic, a new set of end clients started flying private instead of commercial and it looks like many of them are staying. Something to consider in our industry is that they will be expecting the same friction-free booking and payment experience as when booking a commercial flight.

    What’s on the roadmap in 2023 to meet the demands of customers?

    We’re currently working on a solution to reduce the workflow steps when securing payment from the end customer, to the broker and finally to the charter operator. Our Paynode users will definitely hear more about this in 2023, as we put more focus and resources in this area.

    It’s all about providing even easier and more secure payments. In our data we can see that one third of charter requests are made within 72 hours from departure. Speeding up the payment process using instant payments, or via credit card holds, in a smart and user-friendly workflow is a game-changer when funds need to be secured quickly.

    Join Patrick Lucy and the Avinode Group team to talk payment solutions at CJI London, February 6-8th. The panel discussion “Is the covid bounce back slowing?” is on the agenda on February 8th.

  4. Charter demand predictions for the start of 2023

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    By Harry Clarke, Head Of Insight & Analytics

    This article will look at demand and pricing trends in Europe, the US and the Middle East, based on data from the Avinode marketplace.

    At the Avinode 20-year celebratory webinar in mid-November, we predicted that charter demand within Europe in December 2022 wasn’t going to be as poor as feared. We had seen several months of decreasing demand through the autumn, but forward demand for December was holding up reasonably well compared to 2021. That prediction came true – demand within Avinode finished down only 1% year over year, compared to down 15% in November.

    EU domestic journeys in the Avinode Marketplace
    Year over year difference in cumulative demand, 7-day average, for IntraEuropean trips.

    The chart above shows the forward demand trends for January and February 2023 in the European market, with November and December 2022 included for comparison. Each departure month is grouped, and cumulative demand is totalled by day; you can use this chart to understand how demand for a month is building over the course of 180 days. It gets more accurate as it gets closer to the end of the month due to so much private charter being sourced at short notice.

    January 2023 has dipped and sits between where November and December 2022 were at the same number of days before end of the month. We expect it to finish worse year over year than December, but better year over year than November. February 2023 was looking more positive, with numbers being boosted by stronger early demand for ski trips from the UK to Switzerland and France, outbound the weekend of 11th February and returning a week later. However, it has started to drop more sharply and so we should expect it to end at a similar position to January, at this point.

    EU Pricing trends in the Avinode Marketplace
    Rolling 14-day index of hourly rates for IntraEuropean jet trips. Index = 100 is 1st January 2018.

    US Pricing trends in the Avinode Marketplace
    Rolling 14-day index of hourly rates for US domestic jet trips. Index = 100 is 1st January 2018.

    According to the Avinode Pricing Index, hourly rates increased substantially in the first half of 2022 in Europe and the US, before decreasing as the autumn wore on. Rates increased again over the Christmas and New Year peaks. Much of the pricing trend is driven by fuel prices, but as ever in Europe, we should expect to see pricing peak in the summer in 2023.

    US domestic journeys in Avinode Marketplace
    Year over year difference in cumulative demand, 7-day average, for US domestic trips. Note the very different y-axis scale compared to the European chart.

    Across the pond, the scale of year over year decreases in charter demand for US domestics for November and December 2022 were much higher, with December finishing 26% lower according to Avinode data. Both months seemed quite flat early on before dropping rapidly.

    January and February 2023 have been consistently down year over year for several months now. I think both months will see large year over year decreases, but February won’t be as severe as January. International demand to the Caribbean and Mexico looks to be more robust after a strong Christmas; Mexico and the Bahamas dominate.

    Looking more globally, transatlantic demand for January and February is flat year over year, sectors between the US and UK leading the way in volume but between France and the US showing the most growth. After the huge charter surge for the world cup in Qatar, demand between Europe and the Middle East is more normal again!

    Looking at January and February, demand is flat between the Middle East and Europe, dominated by demand between Dubai and the UK, Switzerland, and France. However, according to Avinode data, the most popular destination for the next two months from the UAE is Saudi Arabia. This has been driven by late demand, with the early demand favouring the Maldives. Saudi domestics are noticeably stronger than last year.

  5. A look at business aviation in 2022 and the road forward

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    By Oliver King, CEO Avinode Group

    Back in the 90s, I worked for British Airways, and my American boss had an expression – “It’s OK to look back; just don’t stare.” He administered this advice when he thought the past had little to inform future decisions. In 2022, I reached for his expression. 

    I started in business aviation back in 2011. The preceding financial crisis of 2008/09 saw the curtailment of the fleet and activity, driven by new aircraft deliveries and cheap money. That ended, and it took several years to absorb the surplus with, ironically, new demand from Russia playing a role in the eventual recovery. This period was characterized by predictable, steady growth. 

    2020 – and the world changes over night

    Abrupt does not do justice to the momentous events we are experiencing. Let’s pause for a moment. The first global pandemic in 100 years severely curtailed travel and economic activity and had an unimaginable impact on lives across the globe. We then saw the sharpest demand expansion for business aviation in a generation, a 40% increase, driven by demand for services and significant degradation of the global commercial airline network. 

    As economics recovered, a worldwide supply crisis ensued. Only to see the Ukraine invasion by Russia trigger a humanitarian crisis on the doorstep of Europe and prompt a global energy crisis that remains unresolved. 

    Economic shocks have stoked inflation and required central banks to intervene and raise interest rates. 

    So, when I was asked to summarize my reflections on 2022 and the road forward, it was difficult to know where to start.

    Let’s start with demand. I agree with the voices in the industry arguing that a fundamental step change in demand has occurred over the last two years. Yes, demand in Europe has weakened this fall, as it does each winter, given the seasonal nature of leisure demand. It is not a reversal but a return to “normal” patterns, albeit at a high point. Similarly, the US has weakened but remains considerably up. The good news is that many of those new end-clients are staying. 

    Avinode Pricing Index – US Domestics, rolling 28 days, jet aircraft

    Avinode Pricing Index – IntraEuropean trips, rolling 28 days, jet aircraft

    By now, every consumer from Germany to the US is aware that economic growth has slowed. For many countries, we are entering a recession. The good news for our industry is GDP contraction and business industry passenger numbers appear uncorrelated. As wealth inequality has grown, a buffering cushion of wealth protects our customers.

    The great resignation, anyone?

    We have also seen change forced on our industry in how we must do things. COVID remains with us. In the US, some estimates put the loss of available labor from deaths or long terms illness at over 1.6m people. The impact has been worldwide and felt in our industry. There is nothing like a pandemic followed by a tight labor market to leave many employees contemplating a change. Our industry has yet to escape this impact from pilots to ground staff; retaining and recruiting have proved challenging. Talent management is critical to successfully delivering for customers and shareholders.

    As employees leave and expectations for how companies work and function change, companies have scrambled to adjust. Nowhere was this more visible than in early 2020, with many employers executing a rapid shift to Working from Home. 

    The application of technology to support business evaluation became paramount in solving existing business problems, improving customer delivery, the efficiency and reliability of operations, and limiting the impact of knowledge walking out of the door. 

    Coming from a technology company, you will not be surprised to hear me say this. However, this has been an equal learning opportunity for the Avinode Group.

    Raising capital will be a new ball game

    It is, unfortunately, not all positive news for our industry. We are a capital-intensive industry, and over the last 15 years, this has not been a challenge in an era of cheap money. The shocks to the global economy I noted at the beginning mean the cost of capital, measured in interest rates, is now at the highest since the Financial Crisis of 2008. 

    As interest charges rise, some operators and overleveraged companies may struggle. Commercial aviation may feel this hardest as any downturn in traffic triggered by recession and reductions in household spending will happen first. The euphoria of the 2022 rebound in pent-up leisure demand may be short-lived.

    Similarly, raising money for business acquisitions or bringing new ideas into the market will be more challenging. We have already seen one aviation SPAC withdrawn from the market. Such conditions favor established players, and I can understand why some argue that we will see more consolidation. Equally, I can relate to those who may sigh relief that the years of competing against cheap capital may be closing. 

    Is business aviation immune to economic turbulence?

    So where do I end up having not followed my advice about staring at the past? Firstly, we are fortunate to be entering any downturn in an industry with high immunity. Toilet paper and business jets may be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are both resistant to the thrills and spills of economic turbulence. 

    Secondly, the last years have alternated many expectations and preconceptions about how companies function for employees and customers. Companies that successfully manage talent and technology will start the next economic cycle in pole positions. 

    We may have further turbulence before the next economic upswing gains momentum, but as the world has learned in 2022, surprises will come in many forms. Those that adapt and lean into those surprises have the best chance of succeeding.

  6. Elisa Diener – What it means to be the crucial first point of contact for our Paynode customers.

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    Hi Elisa. As Customer Success Manager Payments, tell us a little about a day
    in your life at Avinode.

    Firstly, I always grab a coffee before doing anything – I love that first cup in the
    morning. Then, as my role is to build relationships with our customers, it means
    getting the newly activated Paynode members onboarded and comfortable with the
    system. For the members that already are active on Paynode, I’m the main point of
    contact for any questions or issues they may have.

    I may find myself onboarding a new Paynode client, which entails setting them up,
    taking them through how the system works and answering their questions. I tend to
    make the session conversational; a two-way dialogue rather than me just demoing it.
    That way they can understand how Paynode can meet their specific business

    Each day I also work closely with the account managers, and we talk a lot to ensure
    we have a proper alignment with our customers.
    Then there’s the regular day-to-day support queries that come my way. A user may
    be having a payment hiccup or need help with the system. I make sure I’m on top of
    those questions straight away.

    That speed of response must be very important in your role

    Absolutely. It’s vital that when a customer reaches out for support, I respond quickly.
    Even if I don’t have an answer right away, they need to feel they’ve been heard. Part
    of this is also listening to their feedback on how we can make Paynode and our
    service even better. We’ve implemented some of the suggestions from customers
    into the product, which is nice.

    You have a banking background I believe

    That’s right, I spent about 16 years in the banking world. I studied Business
    Administration with a Major in Finance at the University of Texas El Paso. I went
    there on a tennis scholarship, and it was quite a culture shock to go from Sweden to
    living in the US right by the Mexican border, but I loved it.

    After graduating I spent one semester as a volunteer assistant coach with the tennis
    team, then I went to work at Morgan Stanley as a Financial Advisor Trainee. From
    there I moved to Chicago to work at Merrill Lynch.

    And then you moved back to Sweden

    Yes, I returned in 2009 to join SEB, one of the largest banks in Sweden. But there
    came a time when I wanted to try something new and put my experience to use
    elsewhere. When I found Avinode and this role, I knew it would be a perfect fit for

    That must have been a big change in culture for you

    The culture at Avinode is certainly very different, but for the better.
    For a start, it’s easier to make a positive impact in your work. In a smaller group,
    your voice gets heard. You can sometimes get lost in a huge corporation, and there
    are so many layers of hierarchy.

    But here, it’s a flat structure and an open environment where everyone is
    encouraged to speak and contribute. You get to know everyone, all the way up to
    the CEO, and I like that.

    What would you say is the best aspect of your role?

    I just really love the interaction with colleagues and customers. The Avinode team is
    a fun group to work with and we have great social gatherings.

    As for my customers, they’re all over the world. Zoom calls work well but meeting
    face-to-face makes a big difference. I’ve been to London and Geneva and met
    customers in person and that’s always great. I look forward to doing more of that.

    And finally, do you still play tennis?

    No, I don’t play anymore. I was getting too frustrated with how I play today
    compared with how I played when I was twenty. But I do play paddle tennis with
    some colleagues, which is a lot of fun. And then there’s a lot of basketball these
    days instead, supporting my two daughters and my husband who coaches.

    I do, however, work out every morning before I start my workday. That’s my morning
    routine, the gym, then coffee. Then I’m ready to go.