On the AGIFORS board – and around the world

Interview with Judith Semar

Judith Semar is Product Line Manager for NetLine at Lufthansa Systems. Since January 2019, she has also been chair of the AGIFORS Airline Operations Study Group. In the following interview, Judith tells us what this means and how she is getting to know airliners and aviation professionals from all over the world.


In the Beginning of 2019, you took over as chair of the AGIFORS Airline Operations Study Group for two years. What exactly is AGIFORS and what is the Study Group about?

AGIFORS stands for Airline Group of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies. It is dedicated to promoting and using operational research methods in the international aviation industry. AGIFORS is divided into four study groups: Operations, Strategic Scheduling & Planning, Crew Management, and Revenue Management & Pricing. These are also the domains of our NetLine products. The participants discuss future issues, challenges and new approaches. These conferences are very important to us because they serve as a source of ideas and inspirations for new and improved NetLine functionalities.

The conferences are held annually on different continents. In June 2019, we were with AGIFORS Ops in Paris, in September is the AGIFORS Summit in Seattle, and last year, when I was still an attendee, the ops conference was held in Hawaii.


What were your responsibilities for this year’s AGIFORS Ops conference?

My job was to put together the conference program and ensure that the conference program ran smoothly. This means acquiring interesting presentations and choosing the most exciting talks from the presentation summaries that are submitted. The content of each presentation is reviewed. Sometimes the presenter may have to revise some of the content. It is important to us to focus on the scientific aspect, because this is critical to the outstanding quality of the conference. Marketing and sales arguments are limited to the vendor presentations.

Putting together an interesting and ambitious conference program and handling the conference logistics are real challenges. As I was dealing with the content of the program, my co-chair Michael Irrgang from Boeing was responsible for the logistics. This involves the hotel, conference rooms and set-up, the booking process, etc. You have to work together to organize a conference like this with more than 100 participants. Michael Irrgang and I also received a lot of support from our predecessors. Without their help, the conference would not have been so successful.

AGIFORS is usually also sponsored by a host airline. This year, Air France did a great job helping to organize the accompanying program: We enjoyed a beautiful excursion on the Seine.

You are the first Lufthansa Systems employee to hold this position. How did you get the idea to apply for the chair of an AGIFORS Study Group?

I was naturally delighted to have been elected as chair. I have been an AGIFORS member for over 10 years and I regularly attend the conferences. I’ve gotten to know many members personally now. For me, acquiring knowledge is always very beneficial, as is gathering ideas and learning from driving forces in the industry. This is why I wanted to personally support the AGIFORS Society and take a peek behind the curtains.

What does this mean for you and your normal responsibilities at Lufthansa Systems?

The 2,800 members of AGIFORS are not companies, they are people. These experts from various aviation sectors work for airlines, software manufacturers, aircraft manufacturers, universities and associations. Interacting with these individuals is very productive and opens up new ways of perceiving the aviation industry. Exciting ideas are hatched and developed. And a lot of this can be applied to our NetLine solutions, for example. There are also always opportunities to start projects with universities in particular, or to look into working with other companies.

Can you give us an example?

The topic of robust flight planning, which involves taking delay risks into account during flight planning, has actually been discussed at the AGIFORS conferences for a long time.

We tackled this issue together with the German Aerospace Center and worked on it in a project. We are now implementing the findings from this research project in NetLine. In doing so, we are working very intensively with the technical units of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Swiss as well as the information management organization of the Lufthansa Group.

With the fall release of NetLine/Sched, we will provide the Lufthansa Group with functionalities for Resilient Scheduling and Operations. schedulers can see directly in NetLine/Sched how schedule changes will affect punctuality. This feature will soon be available in NetLine/Ops ++ as well.