Best practice in Codeshare Management
As the airline industry is among one of the most competitive, airlines often enter into codeshare agreements - whereby partners mutually agree on common routes and flight numbers to generate additional revenue and improve operating margins.
A well planned and executed codeshare can translate into several million EUR resp. USD of additional revenue (or profit) per year, however this is only realized in daily business when a working process of how to reflect the codeshare agreements into two or more partners’ schedules is defined.
By nature, the non-operating (or marketing) flight shall always be a mirror image of the operating flight as most of the flight attributes need to be copied from the operating to marketing flight. Of course, there will be at times slight modifications to the data such as booking class conversions, changes to Data Element Identifiers and revisions due to potential blocked space agreements.
“The operating carrier is in the lead, the marketing carrier should follow.”
The most used principle in the market in terms of the codeshare synchronization process is for the operating carrier to calculate the codeshare connections and assign the DEI010 to its flight numbers accordingly. The marketing carrier then receives the schedule information and generates its marketing flight – potentially already including the aforementioned adjustments.
A well-functioning codeshare agreement is similar to looking in the mirror – you are only able to see a mirror image of yourself once you stand in front of the mirror, but not before! Similarly, the best practice for codeshare management is for the operating partner to serve as the actor in front of the mirror and the marketing partner to serve as the reflection. While acting in reverse is possible, it adds difficulty and inefficiency to the process and achieving a good result is nearly impossible when using this method.
“Reverse codeshare management”
Although the best practice in the industry is for the operating partner to take the lead, they are instances where airlines practice reverse codeshare management, a process where the marketing partner first generates the marketing flights and then sends the marketing information to the operating partner. The operating partner is ultimately required to assign the related DEI010 information to its operating flights. While reverse codeshare management seems unintuitive at best, there are additionally several greater disadvantages which should be mentioned regarding this practice:
Operating partner flight has been changed in the meantime
The operational flights for many airlines are in a constant state of flux due to re-timings, equipment changes, different routings, and simple administrative changes like PRBD or meal code changes. While some of these changes are not critical to a related codeshare flight’s operation, other changes may severely disrupt operations. As the major interest of a scheduling system is to optimize an airline’s operational fleet, codeshare partners are generally second priority.
In case that marketing carrier generates its marketing flight first, the operating carrier might have already changed its according operating flight in major flight attributes. The result is that the marketing flight is not a reflection of the operating flight.
Earlier publication of marketing flight
If the marketing carrier is in the lead, the marketing flight is by nature earlier “ready for publication” as the operating flight. It takes some time until the operating flight is published with the correct information. In this period of time where the operating flight and its mirror, the marketing flight, are not synchronized, it might happen that passengers try to book already the marketing flight.
In case of such critical out-of-sync situations between operating and marketing flight, problems in the booking process are present inevitably. How the booking can be performed (or even not) depends on the cleverness of the booking system – from manual intervention till a complete “unavailable” might be the consequence.
Related blog articles:
Codeshare synchronicity within the major alliances
Codeshare Management: Obstacles to getting it right!