Airlines around the world work hard to optimize processes and make them “COVID-compliant.” Especially operational processes are in the focus. This article puts a spotlight on the aircraft refueling process. Moreover, it provide clear guidelines on how to improve the refueling process to keep your staff safe!


COVID-19, The Impact On Airlines, And Refueling

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has changed the faith of the aviation industry massively. From a flourishing sector that expected constant growth rates for years to come to pictures of aircraft parked on runways as lockdowns forced an operational shutdown. Analysts currently say that it will take years to get anywhere close to the numbers achieved before the crisis. Besides these bleak prospects, airlines face many more current problems that the Corona pandemic uncovered.

The Turnaround And Refueling Process Are Not COVID-Ready

Airlines worldwide are operating at minimal capacity, which means that something is still happening on the aprons. Nowadays, the turnaround process is highly optimized, supported by a wide variety of digital solutions. In 2020 that is the norm you expect. However, some process steps are still requiring personal interaction, causing a real problem at the moment. While we have learned to stay socially distanced in 2020 by relying on digital solutions more than ever, those turnaround process steps do not offer any digital alternative yet.

Refueling Process 2020 – Still Caught In The 70s

In particular, the operational refueling process is still heavily shaped by the personal interaction between the fueling provider and the pilot. The reason for that is relatively simple. As different airlines have contracts with different fuel providers at every airport, it is somewhat challenging to streamline the refueling process across all parties. With different IT systems in place across all parties, it became even more challenging to unify operational fueling all together. That is why today, pilots still have to shout out of the cockpit to let the fueler know how much fuel is required. The fueler then needs to enter the cockpit to get a signature. Later, the signed paper and the receipt must be handed in at the respective office to be processed further. As you can see, there is way too much personal interaction needed to complete that process.

Digitize The Refueling Process — The Best Way To Protect Your Staff From COVID-19

In 2020 it is the utmost priority of airline executives to keep their staff safe, and as portrayed, the refueling process does not help to achieve that currently. However, some airlines and fuel providers have felt the urge to finalize the operational fueling process’s digitalization before 2020, as it brings many more advantages than merely limiting personal interactions. Take Lufthansa, for example. They have established their solution in cooperation with their fuel provider in the early 2000s and are benefiting from it since. Other airlines are starting to act quickly right now and give their operational refueling process the much-needed digital infusion. Cathay Pacific have started their efforts in May 2020 and are now keeping their staff in Hongkong and Singapore much safer than their competitors.

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    Digital Refueling — A Success Story To Copy?

    But how did Cathay achieve all that in such a short time? To finalize the digitalization of the operational refueling process, it is required to seamlessly connect airlines and fuel providers even though they all operate different IT systems. The digitalization makes that possible today. By joining the world’s largest digital fuel network, Cathay can now communicate with all their fuel providers across worldwide airports. This network utilizes a centralized hub and standardized communication standard to make as accessible as possible. All involved parties can stick to their independent digital solution but eliminate personal interactions while also capitalizing on other advantages as cutting delay minutes and improving data quality.

    Equipped For Today And The Future

    After just a couple of months of operation, Cathay is more than happy to have made this bold move to a digital refueling process — amid the crisis. First and foremost, it helps them to keep their staff safe in those testing times. But they also see themselves better equipped than ever for the future as being part of the biggest largest digital fuel network helps them to optimize their operational processes.

    Want To Learn More?

    Are you intrigued about Cathay’s COVID-19 success story? Do you want to learn more about the biggest digital fuel network and how to improve refueling? Check out our in-depth blog article covering this topic.

    What’s Next?

    Want to dive into the details about COVID and airline fueling?

    Sure, let’s go!

    Enough COVID? Ready to drive your airline’s efficiency?

    Yes, take me there!

    Want to dive into the details about COVID and airline fueling?

    Sure, let’s go!

    Enough COVID? Ready to drive your airline’s efficiency?

    Yes, take me there!

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    Robin is the young gun at Information Design already leaving his mark on aviation industry. After taking an educational hiatus, he rejoined Information Design and is prepared to help airlines around the world to capitalize on the advantages of digital fuel management. With his quite remarkable level of experience in the aviation industry for his young age, Robin is prepared to pick up right where he left off. Don’t hesitate to contact him – maybe he will invite you onto his web show “REFUEL”.