These Airlines Are Using AI to Make Long-haul Flights More Efficient

The goal is to cut down on delays and cancellations.

Sunset viewed as plane flying over Sydney Harbour in Australia

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Flights are getting longer and longer, and airlines are turning to artificial intelligence to make those long-haul routes easier.

Airlines like Air New Zealand and Qantas are using AI-powered software to determine fuel-efficient routes in efforts to prevent having to stop to refuel, Bloomberg reported. (The former launched a 17.5-hour flight from New York City to Auckland, New Zealand. The latter plans to launch the longest flights in the world between Sydney to New York and London with its Project Sunrise.) The software, which is designed to get better the more it’s used, warns pilots about bad weather, helps them catch a tailwind, and more.

Raimund Zopp, the co-founder of Flightkeys, which calculates flight plans for airlines, told Bloomberg that flight planning is especially important in these ultra-long-haul routes and it needs to be quick.

“The longer the route, the more important a flight-planning system becomes because you’re at the limit of the aircraft, typically,” Zopp said. “You want to reduce the fuel reserves on one hand, but you want to have enough to have a high chance to make it non-stop. So that’s another reason why you need a system that calculates efficiently and fast because you have to change the result very often.”

AI is also being used on shorter routes by carriers like Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa — both of which turned to Google Cloud for help, Fortune reported. For Swiss, AI technology helped the carrier better optimize more than half the flights in its network. Lufthansa used the technology to improve its ability to predict wind patterns in Switzerland, which can affect delays and cancellations. 

“Being impressed with Google’s technology and prowess in the field of AI and machine learning, we were certain that by working together with their expert, to combine our technology with their domain expertise, we would achieve the best results possible,“ Christian Most, the senior director, digital operations optimization at Lufthansa Group, said in a statement obtained by Travel + Leisure last year.

Other carriers like Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and American Airlines are also investing in AI, according to Fortune.

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