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Can demand forecast accuracy be linked to airline revenue?

Thomas Fiig (), Larry R. Weatherford () and Michael D. Wittman ()
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Thomas Fiig: Amadeus IT Group
Larry R. Weatherford: University of Wyoming
Michael D. Wittman: Amadeus IT Group

Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, 2019, vol. 18, issue 4, 291-305

Abstract: Abstract Since accurate demand forecasts are a key input to any airline revenue management system, it is reasonable to assume that an improvement in demand forecast accuracy would lead to increased revenues. However, this relationship has often been called into question. Past work has not conclusively proven that more accurate demand forecasts lead to higher revenue, causing researchers and practitioners to debate whether the concept of demand forecast accuracy itself is “myth or reality.” In this paper, we demonstrate that it is possible to consistently link demand forecast accuracy to airline revenue. After discussing why traditional demand forecast error metrics have struggled to demonstrate this relationship, we evaluate a novel conditional demand forecast error metric which compares demand forecasts to historical bookings conditional on the set of fare classes that were open at the time of booking. We prove under some mild assumptions that minimizing conditional demand forecast error will maximize revenue under any fare structure and customer choice behavior. These theoretical findings are supported by simulations in both a simple, single-leg model and in a complex multiple-airline network in the Passenger Origin–Destination Simulator. We find that price elasticity parameter bias of ± 10% can reduce revenues by up to about 1%, while price elasticity parameter bias of ± 20% can reduce revenues by up to 4%. We close by discussing the implications of the findings for revenue management practitioners.

Keywords: Demand forecast accuracy; Airline revenue management; Conditional demand forecasting; Demand forecast error; Demand unconstraining (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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