EMMANUEL, 23 years old
Compagnie Régional, Nantes Airport
How he became a mathematician
“After high school, I studied for a DUT (university diploma in technology) in STID (statistics and decisional computing) at the Institute of Technology in Vannes. Since I was interested in air transport, I sent out applications—unsolicited—to various companies. When a position opened up at Régional, I was hired. I was tested on my ability to question my own assumptions, on my mastery of statistics and computer technologies, as well as on the content of the internship I had completed during the second year of my DUT. I had worked in the aeronautical sector, more specifically for Airbus, to create a database about our production quality. Where I work now, the analysts have varied profiles: some are statisticians, others have business training, and others have specialized training in transportation. Some of them arrived here through internal promotion.”
How mathematics comes into play in his job
Using decision-making tools, the flight-revenue analyst seeks to optimise the company’s sales. Our motto is: the right price, for the right client, at the right time.
“With a portfolio of eight airlines, I’m in charge of optimising flight revenues. Based on the profile of the clientele we’re expecting, I calculate the number of places on each flight that should be allocated to each type of ticket booking, from “business class,” with the highest fare, down to “economy class,” with the lowest. I readjust the proportions on a daily basis as a function of the bookings we have received. I mainly use the software program Airmax, a decision-making tool developed by Air France. Based on records of past flights and the bookings that have already been made, the program suggests the number of places still needing to be filled for each fare category. If I disagree with the program’s suggestion, I can override it thanks to computer interfaces such as Alpha3 and Amadeus.
“I work with a team composed of a manager, a dozen flight-revenue analysts, a group-bookings administrator, two fares specialists, and a client assistant for the whole data-processing division. I’m also in touch with our marketers, the Air France travel agents. All our bookings use an Air France flight number; that’s typical with franchised flights.
“Aside from an interest in numbers, my job demands interpersonal skills and an ability to react. Air transport is a very dynamic sector; the number of bookings varies widely over the course of the year. Furthermore, airlines aren’t immune to change: some disappear, and others arise to fill new niches; some undergo mergers and are reborn under new names.”
What are the qualifications?
Bac + 2, DUT (university diploma in technology) or license in mathematics, with a focus on statistics.
Translation: David Kramer