EASYJET has hired a British artificial intelligence company to help it to predict future demand and slash costs following the coronavirus crisis. The low-cost airline has paid Black Swan Data to analyse customer behaviour as it seeks to recover from a plunge in air travel during the pandemic. Black Swan will use its artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help easyJet predict food consumption on its aircraft in order to minimise wastage. The company tracks orders and uses this information to gauge quantities of fresh food needed for each flight. Steve King, Black Swan’s chief executive, said that 40pc of easyJet’s fresh food could be going to waste at present and his firm hopes to cut this sharply. He said: “The aviation world is insane because there’s no data. It’s like a website where you delete the data every day. It wouldn’t work.”
EasyJet announced last month that it will cut up to 4,500 jobs, reducing its total number of employees by 30pc. Johan Lundgren, chief executive, has warned that demand for air travel may not recover fully until 2023. The airline will operate 51 fewer aircraft than planned by the end of next year, and plans to run at just 30pc of capacity in the final three months of 2020. EasyJet revealed in May that it had suffered a cyber attack in which the email addresses and travel details of nine million customers were stolen. The credit card information of more than 2,000 people was also stolen in the hack, which has since been linked to operators in China. Black Swan was founded in 2011 and has sold its data analysis and prediction software to companies such as Google, McDonald’s and Marmite maker Unilever. Mr King said the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a surge in demand from aviation firms seeking to keep a tight lid on spending. Airlines are scrambling to cut costs because the coronavirus crisis has triggered a huge slump in passenger numbers. British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic have announced up to 22,500 job cuts between them, with demand not expected to recover for up to four years.