How to Maximize Load Factor with Smarter Marketing



Every flight your airline sends out costs money. You’ve got to cover the cost of the aircraft, the fuel, staff salaries, maintenance, landing fees, and air traffic control. And then you’ve got to hope that enough seats are filled to earn back your flight investment, with enough on top so you’re not transporting people for free — or worse, at a cost.

You probably know better than most what a crucial KPI load factor is for the airline industry. And you probably also know that the average passenger load factor (PLF) has been increasing over the last few years, in large part due to the emergence of new low-cost carriers and ultra-low-cost carriers (LCCs and ULCCS, respectively).

Average load factor is on the rise
While low-cost carriers have raised the bar by managing to consistently fly fuller planes, these are arguably the airlines who stand to lose the most if they don’t meet their PLF targets. That is, their lower ticket prices put them under more pressure to fill every seat possible or risk losing money on flights. However, that’s not to say maximizing load factor isn’t vital for all airlines. Full-service airlines might have a bit more wiggle room in comparison, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want (or need) to increase their PLF where possible. And with a global average PLF of 81.7%, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Still, an 81.7% average PLF in 2018 isn’t bad compared with the 70% average we were seeing at the turn of the century. Many airlines are doing much better than 81.7%. In 2017, for instance, Ryanair was leading the industry with an average PLF of 96%. Looking at these numbers, you could say the last years haven’t been too shabby for the airline industry.


And the International Air Transport Association would agree:
“These are good times for the global air transport industry. Safety performance is solid. We have a clear strategy that is delivering results on environmental performance. More people than ever are traveling."The demand for air cargo is at its strongest level in over a decade. Employment is growing. More routes are being opened. Airlines are achieving sustainable levels of profitability. It’s still, however, a tough business, and we are being challenged on the cost front by rising fuel, labor and infrastructure expenses.”
–Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA

Things are going well for airlines, but as Mr. de Juniac emphasizes: it remains a  challenging business. So how can you make sure your airline gets ahead when times are good? And how can you simultaneously build a strategy that will guarantee a high PLF in the future, when the industry might be rockier?



If you want to get more people on your airplane, you must gain a deeper understanding of the individuals you’re trying to win over. You need to know what they want — preferably before they want it — and you need to know where they are in their customer journey so you can offer it to them at the right time.

The old-fashioned approach is to group your customers and prospects into general target audiences and throw ads at them, hoping something will stick. The new approach is Intelligent Journey Orchestration.

In a nutshell, Intelligent Journey Orchestration creates flexible customer journeys that incorporate intelligent personalization at every step — no matter how often your customer leaves or comes back, and no matter how drastically their booking preferences vary from one day to the next. It allows you to customize every booking experience for each individual person, rather than just an audience that resembles them.

By responding to your individual customer’s actual expectations at every touchpoint, you are in a unique position to have relevant interactions with them. You can offer them only what they want, exactly when they want it, and you can fill up your airplanes every time.

Besides providing a smoother, more comfortable buying journey, you’ll also optimize your marketing approach and save money by rolling out highly targeted orchestrated campaigns.


The Relay42 platform can help you create seamless customer journeys and offer customers truly personalized experiences in a new way. This is because it understands individual customers and knows where they are in their customer journey. Then it uses AI to offer each individual the perfect next best step based on their real-time activity. If you're curious to know more about how this works in practice, check out this article on how Transavia streamlined their display advertising, saved marketing budget, and optimized their customer experience with the help of Relay42

Use Artificial Intelligence to orchestrate engaging customer journeys
When you have the full picture of each and every customer from before the time they were even your customer, you can offer relevant and highly personalized journeys to prospects based on their real-time choices.

Of course, having highly detailed and always up-to-date customer profiles is only the first step. Relay42 also helps you plan and manage end-to-end journeys across all channels and ensure that the timing, channel, and content of your message is always highly relevant. This is what we mean when we talk about Intelligent Journey Orchestration.


You already have the data — now it’s time to maximize the way you use it. Intelligent Journey Orchestration puts you in the right place at the right time, every time. It turns your advertising into a helpful tool for your customers, creating a mutually beneficial relationship that gets people to their destinations and keeps your planes full.

Customer-centric solutions to the top 5 airline marketing challenges, from acquisition to loyalty.

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