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KLM Harnesses Artificial Intelligence to Slash Food Waste on Flights

KLM is making significant strides in sustainability by cutting down food waste on its flights. Thanks to innovative artificial intelligence programs, the airline can now accurately predict the number of passengers who will actually board.

KLM Harnesses Artificial Intelligence to Slash Food Waste on Flights
KLM Harnesses Artificial Intelligence to Slash Food Waste on Flights

This breakthrough means KLM can prepare the exact number of meals necessary, leading to a drastic 63% reduction in food waste. By matching meal numbers with passenger counts for each flight, KLM saves over 100,000 kg of food annually.

“Investments in digital technology are a priority for KLM. The application of artificial intelligence contributes enormously to improving our flight operations and making them more sustainable. Combatting food waste is a good example of this, resulting in tens of thousands fewer meals being wasted on our flights each year,” said Marjan Rintel, CEO of KLM.

How KLM Applies Artificial Intelligence to Cut Food Waste on Flights

KLM has embraced artificial intelligence to streamline onboard meal quantities, aiming to tackle the persistent issue of food waste. The company recognizes that a small percentage of passengers – between 3 to 5% – don’t show up as planned. Their innovative AI model, named TRAYS, seeks to address this by predicting the actual number of passengers using historical data patterns.

Tailored for KLM’s catering needs, TRAYS delivers accurate predictions to the Meals On Board System (MOBS) for each class of service: Business, Premium Comfort, and Economy. The forecast process starts 17 days before the flight and refines up to 20 minutes before departure. With this advanced notice, KLM can purchase and load meals with unprecedented accuracy, avoiding excess.

Kickstart AI, a collaboration of leading firms including KLM, bol, Ahold Delhaize, NS, and ING, launched TRAYS last year. This initiative represents a significant leap in solving the catering challenge, conserving resources, and enhancing passenger experience.

“We are pleased that we have been able to make a valuable contribution to this important project for KLM. Our goal with Kickstart AI is to accelerate the adoption of AI in the Dutch business community and we look forward to working closely with Dutch companies to make this happen,” said Sander Stomph CEO and co-founder Kickstart AI.

KLM’s three-month analysis reveals a significant 63% cut in food waste because they stopped catering for every booked passenger. This strategy particularly benefits intercontinental flights departing from Schiphol, with each flight using 2.5 fewer meals—that’s 1.3 kg less food thrown away. Annually, this smart practice results in a remarkable 111,000 kg reduction in meal waste on all flights catered out of Schiphol.

KLM Applies AI To Improve Operations and Enhance the Passenger Experience

KLM also invests in artificial intelligence to enhance various business operations. AI is now key to advancing aircraft maintenance procedures. Besides streamlining maintenance, AI tools forecast weather disruptions, aiding in optimizing schedules to minimize cancellations and delays. Additionally, after booking a flight, customers receive personalized travel advice through AI technology, making their experience smoother and more tailored.


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