EasyJet Unveils AI-Controlled Centre for Summer Travel

EasyJet Unveils AI-Controlled Centre for Summer Travel
EasyJet Unveils AI-Controlled Centre for Summer Travel

A cutting-edge facility featuring artificial intelligence (AI) - EasyJet's new Integrated Control Centre (ICC) near London's Luton airport - is central to the British airline's operations as it prepares for high summer travel demand.

The ICC handles about 2,000 mostly-European flights per day, from urgent flight changes to monitoring aircraft health mid-air. Technicians can analyze engines in real-time and even see if a toilet needs fixing.

"It's going to be our busiest summer since Covid," said Gill Baudot, EasyJet's director of network control. "Over the next few months we'll be flying 300,000 passengers a day."

If a plane fails to fly due to weather, technical issues or strikes, the ICC steps in to amend logistics. EasyJet is using an AI tool akin to ChatGPT to aid urgent decisions like rerouting planes and reassigning crew.

"We've been investing heavily in technology, automation and artificial intelligence," Baudot said, though noting humans still make final decisions currently.

The airline had to get back up to speed through massive recruitment as travel demand recovered post-pandemic. "Staff were out of practice" following Covid lockdowns, an issue faced by the sector, Baudot noted.

The technology helps "predict exactly what food and drink we need for certain routes while minimizing waste, aiding predictive maintenance decisions and helping ensure we have the right aircraft on routes to best match demand," Outgoing CEO Johan Lundgren said.

At the ICC, staff monitor flights and prioritize disruptions, sending notifications to affected passengers. Factors like number of children or group trips are considered, as "it's not always the flights with the least people" that get disrupted.

EasyJet manages over 340 passenger planes, with 14 backup aircraft across Europe.