As airports become stretched to capacity and calls mount for new runways and terminals, a computer scientist in Greece has designed a system that could ensure as many seats as possible are filled on each flight and no one is left stranded at check-in.
Dimitris Kanellopoulos of the Technological Educational Institute of Patras, explains how in recent years, the airline industry has become increasingly dependent on computers for its operational and strategic management. However, the current software tools it uses to match passengers to available seats on flights, is outmoded and inefficient. One of the main problems is that the software simply does not understand the passengers' requirements.
Inspired by earlier work on an employer-employee matching system developed by researchers in Spain, Kanellopoulos is working on an intelligent web portal that will act as a service provider for the airline industry.
The portal will help people living in Europe to find airline seats that match their personal travelling preferences by locking on to the meaning of the keywords with which they describe themselves and their travel needs. For instance, whether they require a shorter than standard check-in time, wheelchair access, frequent-flyer rewards, and to arrive in Paris for a meeting before 3pm of Tuesday next week and whether they have a preference for a no-frills carrier.
This kind of semantic information is then matched against a knowledge database provided by the airlines that represents all the possible options available in terms of time of flights, seating, eating, and check-in arrangements, and other variables.
The knowledge database, works with a special conceptual model known as an "airlines ontology". The model endows the web portal with the necessary understanding of what each passenger requires. According to Kanellopoulos, it extends recent developments in web searching that has allowed travellers to search for seats on different airlines and to hook up their flight to car rental, hotel reservation, vacation packages and other travel products.
The approach is outlined in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology. In related work, Kanellopoulos has extended the web portal approach to package holiday arrangements.
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