Interview in the Low Cost & Regional Airline Business Magazine: Rudolf Christen, CEO, Aviaso

July 29, 2015

What is your earliest memory in aviation?

As a young boy, I guess like many, I was crazy about aircraft. My hobby was to build model planes, some of which would fly successfully, others not quite so well... Following my studies in IT, and after working as a business consultant for some time, I was finally able to fulfil my dream of becoming a pilot, flying the 757 for a couple of years.

What attracted you to the aviation industry?

I was always passionate about flying. At the same time, I've always had a great interest in software. Naturally, the business that my partners and I founded was meant to connect our passions for aviation and software. Thus, Aviaso was born.

What has been your greatest business achievement, and why?

Probably the greatest achievement was to have the courage to be one of the first companies to start the development of specialised fuel efficiency software. As a former pilot, I was convinced that being able to collect the right data and provide good analysis software could help airlines save a lot of fuel. However, I knew that this was a very complex challenge that needed to be properly solved. So, we invested a lot of time and money in our software product. Now it is very rewarding to see the huge interest around the globe for our software.

What is the best way for airlines to monitor their fuel usage?

Transparency is key to thorough monitoring of fuel usage. The well-known management adage, "You can't manage what you don't measure", is of particular relevance for fuel efficiency improvement programmes. An airline can only improve if it is clear which initiatives are making progress and which are not. The software from Aviaso supports airlines in thoroughly understanding their fuel consumption and helps identify potential fuel savings. It also helps achieve these savings by rigorously monitoring the various fuel saving initiatives for each and every flight.

What are the savings that airlines can achieve?

For reasons of confidentiality, we cannot disclose the actual savings achieved by our client airlines. However, some of our clients have published press releases stating the fuel savings they have achieved with the support of our software. For example, Thomas Cook Belgium achieved 2.1% fuel savings after using the software for a year and a half. Another airline, Condor, stated that 2.4% of additional savings were realised with the Aviaso fuel efficiency tool. What is particularly attractive to airlines is the low cost of our software – typically in the range of 1 to 2% of the achieved savings.

How well does the Aviaso fuel efficiency software integrate with airlines' existing IT infrastructure, and how do you achieve this?

Aviaso has a long experience in system integration projects. Our approach is to provide ready-made data import adapters for all the major airline IT systems. Therefore, integration of the data from these systems is possible with little or no effort. This means fast implementation times and also low costs for an airline to integrate its IT systems. Examples of systems we can integrate with include flight scheduling, operational flight plans, flight data monitoring, load information/DCS, ACARS, EFB, and weather data systems, amongst others. Our database stores more than 1000 parameters for each and every flight.

Since last year, Aviaso has added six airline customers, including big airlines such as Lufthansa. What is next?

Aviaso is currently serving 20 airlines. To continue to have happy clients is our goal, and so far Aviaso has not lost a single customer. Despite our strong growth, we still invest a lot in further development of our tool and in client support. Aviaso is continuing to expand its client base. Our goal is to be the preferred choice for mid-size and large airlines in all market segments, including regional, charter, cargo, low-cost and full-service/network carriers.

About Rudolf Christen

Rudolf 'Ruedi' Christen has more than 25 years of experience in aviation and software development. In 2007, together with his partners Ruedi founded Aviaso. In 2009, Aviaso started the development of its fuel efficiency software. Prior to Aviaso, Ruedi was flying Boeing 757s and was part of the management team of Belair Airlines in Switzerland. He also has several years of experience as project manager in a management consulting company. In his free time, he enjoys sports and spending time in the mountains with his family.

About Low Cost & Regional Airline Business

Low Cost & Regional Airline Business is the only B2B magazine dedicated to analysing business strategies in the low-cost and regional airline industries. This features-based magazine delivers in-depth and prudent industry analysis on a broad range of topics; from aircraft and airports, to business practices and the latest technology, as well as regional focuses and coverage of major industry events. There are also regular interviews with key decision-makers sharing their experience and expertise of the low-cost and regional airline industries. Low Cost & Regional Airline Business is published quarterly in April, July, October and December.