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Codeshare synchronization within the major alliances (version 2020)

Codeshare synchronization
Codeshare synchronization

Dec 04, 2020

A codeshare agreement between two partnering airlines requires mutual consent on processes and a regular schedule data exchange. In the crisis, these process arrangements are put to test.

How does the Covid-19 crisis with reduced staff power and high volatile schedule data influence the quality of the schedules between partnering airlines? Does the codeshare synchronization check between the major three alliances allows us to draw some conclusions to established processes or even used tools?

The codeshare agreement itself is reflected in the schedule by cross-references between operating and marketing flights. The operating carrier labels its own operating flight with a DEI 010 identifying the respective partner marketing flight. The codeshare partner has to build the according marketing flight as a kind of mirror image using the Data Element Identifier 050. If the operating flight is changed, the airline has to inform its partner in time and as fast as possible. The marketing partner has to react quickly to update its marketing flight accordingly. Only if both partners act as a team, the cross reference between operating and marketing flight is “in-sync” and the booking process can be performed without any “UN’s” and manual interventions in the inventory systems.

The pandemic has shown that airlines cannot create their schedules as in previous years. Unpredictable travel restrictions on short notice lead to a massive amount of flight changes – in nearly every country for nearly every airline. A stable seasonal schedule planning twice a year is unlikely to be possible soon.

Schedule Managers must handle the massive amount of schedule changes and relating impacts in all relevant systems in conjunction with their reduced working time and increased volume of critical short-term adjustments. Therefore, it is understandable that the schedule changes to the own operating metal have higher priority. There is significantly less time for other tasks like codeshare management.

However, codeshare agreements are an essential part of the business nowadays – with an own reduced network, an airline cannot fly to every destination as before. A partner is needed to serve this market, and, codeshare business is and will be the “business catch word”. Most of the airlines generate a significant portion of their revenues by codeshare agreements. It must be worthwhile to keep the quality of codeshare information schedule data on a high level even under these circumstances.

As a conclusion, you can say: “The pandemic has not only introduced new challenges to IT and digitalization, it even discovers mercilessly the process problems which were already available before the crisis, but, could be handled manually somehow in the past.”

How are the alliances performing in the crisis regarding codeshare quality?

The picture is quite similar to the analysis of the last years (see related blog posts at the end):

Star Alliance has most flights to manage and is “best in class” in the group of the alliances. With extremely low 0.25% (major conflicts) resp. 0.27% (minor conflicts) flights being out-of-sync, the codeshare schedule quality is in very good shape.

Oneworld has just 50% of the flights (compared to Star Alliance) to manage. However, it is clearly higher than Star with a result of 5% regarding major discrepancies. 

Skyteam manages approx. two million flights, but every tenth codeshare flight is out of sync.

Figure 1: Overview of schedule data quality in the codeshare synchronization process

Tool support and established processes are obviously the success factors

As mentioned in previous blog posts, all three alliances show different setups in the tools used and established processes.

In Star Alliance most of the members are using a tool, whereby 60% of the members are using a tool of the same provider. Just 15% have no tool in place. Strict processes and frequent measurement controls for codeshare and schedule management are in place.

Nearly 50% of Oneworld members have no system for codeshare management in place. Approximately 25% are using a tool of the same provider, followed by 10% of the members using the tool of another provider.

SkyTeam members seem to have the highest “out-of-synchronization” rates. More than 50% are using no tool support, and most of the rest is using the product of the same provider.

Figure 2: Tool support of codeshare management process incl. overview about the providers of the used system 

And the conclusion?

The complete analysis suggests that the combination of significantly increased schedule change volume, schedule data exchange frequency and manual established processes max out the limited and manual processes at some airlines. Airlines having a robust codeshare and schedule management tool with a high automation level and mutually agreed processes in place seem to have obviously fewer challenges to manage. Will these airlines be the winner of the pandemic? It’s hard to say, but fact is that good IT support of business processes is the base for success, isn’t it?

Please have a look to related blog articles, inter alia:

Codeshare synchronization within the major alliances (version 2019)

Best practice in Codeshare Management

Codeshare Management: Obstacles to getting it right!


Tags: Codesharecode sharecodeshare managementcode-shareschedule dataschedule data exchangeairline co-operationschedule deliveryalliancesco-operationjoint venturestar allianceskyteamoneworldnetwork managementLufthansa Systems Blog
Michael Becker
Senior Product Manager
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Lufthansa Systems Blog