On Thursday, Air India announced new intermodal interline agreement with WorldTicket, the distributor for Europe’s largest railway operator, Deutsche Bahn. This will allow Air India customers to include train connections across 5,600 stations on a single ticket.
Nipun Aggarwal, Chief Commercial & Transformation Officer, Air India, said:
“While we continue to expand our own route network globally, such partnerships help us to provide an extended network to our guests, and make journeys to their final destinations more convenient. We observe substantial passenger traffic on our Frankfurt flights that further connects to and from other German cities and towns, and this partnership addresses the needs of an increasing number of such guests.”
Making the journey as seamless as possible, passengers will have the same baggage allowance on chosen rail routes as offered by Air India on its flights. The advantages of this partnership also extend beyond Germany as travellers with be able to access train connections on Deutsche Bahn to and from Amsterdam, Brussels, and Zurich via Air India’s Frankfurt gateway.
As the industry strives to offer the ultimate convenient travel experience, we expect to see more customer-centric collaboration emerging, showing an awareness of evolving passenger needs.
This World Aviation Festival interview with Miami International Airport (MIA) CIO began with Maurice Jenkins sharing his vision for the “ideal” airport experience. The MIA CIO described a paperless, seamless, holistic airport/airline journey, centered around the customer.
From this starting point, the interview looked at how MIA is strategically planning for this future, highlighting areas of priority, and underscoring the importance of futureproofing where possible. Here, the need to remain agile and retain the ability to pivot was explained as we look towards innovating for the future.
The conversation also touched on the potential of biometrics and digital identity in transforming the passenger experience, as well as the value of collaboration and the nuances of harnessing data.
Responding to their research showing 40 per cent of customers would be interested in luggage collection, delivery, and door-to-door service, easyJet has collaborated with Airportr to enhance passenger convenience.
The British LCC will initially offer three services for customers at London Gatwick and Geneva airports, becoming the first airline to include the service in a bundle fare.
Departure: customers flying from London Gatwick or Geneva can now check in their bags from a designated pick-up point like your home office or hotel, which will be collected by an accredited driver and then collected from the baggage belt on arrival at their destination.
Arrival: Customers arriving into Geneva from any easyJet airport can book for a delivery of their bags to their final destination, like their home or hotel.
Door-to-door: customers flying from London Gatwick to Geneva can book a door-to-door service – a totally seamless luggage experience that means customers can check in their bags from home and sees them delivered to their final destination.
Sophie Dekkers, Chief Commercial Officer at easyJet, said:
“We are always looking at how we can innovate with the products and services we offer to ensure we are providing more of the choices our customers want, so we are excited to be introducing Airportr’s services initially from London Gatwick and Geneva, to help make travel even easier for our customers, whether they are flying for business or leisure.”
The announcement comes just weeks after IATA’s latest Global Passenger Survey (GPS) highlighted passenger desire for a more streamlined airport process, with 67 per cent of respondents interested in home pick-up and delivery. As the industry strives to meet traveller’s expectations, more flexibility during the airport experience will be crucial.
At World Aviation Festival, Michael Huynh, Founder, Branchspace, and Ursula Silling, CEO, Branchspace joined for a discussion around innovation in digital airline retailing.
Firstly, conversation covered how Gresham House Ventures’ £5m investment into Branchspace will be used to meet the evolving needs of airline customers in a post-pandemic world. Here, Michael touched on accelerating digital offerings, responding to changing passenger behaviours, and elevating dynamic retailing capabilities, looking at how the investment can “help airlines to be the best retailers they can be.” Building on this, Michael also highlighted how data and insights can be leveraged in the future using machine learning (ML) to optimise outcomes for airlines.
Looking at the industry’s transition more broadly, Ursula explored how digital transformation can make a tangible differences to passengers as well as the challenges that come with this shift. Here, Branchspace’s CEO explained:
“It’s not just about changing the technology. You need to get this mindset of what is retailing? What is customer focus really? And even the mindset to experiment to have the courage to say this one maybe didn’t work but the next will make a big difference.”
To hear the CEO and Founder of Branchspace speak on all this and more, watch the full interview below.
At World Aviation Festival, the keynote CEO panel consisting of Luis Gallego, CEO, IAG, Güliz Öztürk, CEO, Pegasus, Tim Clark, President, Emirates, Luís Rodrigues, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO, TAP Air Portugal, and Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA, convened to discuss the future of the global aviation industry. The discussion was organised in two main sections: the first focused on the decarbonisation of the industry, while the second explored the implications of artificial intelligence (AI).
Moderator Guy Johnson immediately split the panel asking:
“Are the 2050 sustainability targets realistic? Do you think they can be achieved in a way that does not impact demand?”
The question sparked lively discussion around the major changes needed for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production, geographic considerations, human ingenuity, airport infrastructure complications and more. Working to map out the bottlenecks and voicing conflicting opinions on the industry’s sustainability trajectory, the panellists provided a comprehensive exploration of the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Conversation also looked at AI’s potential in overcoming current adversities as well as any potential harm it could pose to airline profitability. The consensus across the panel was that the industry as a whole will eventually adapt to the new possibilities of AI, but those that harness technology early will reap the most benefits.
Throughout the session, discussion touched on other intriguing questions including: Are we seeing a generational shift away from aviation? How can we ensure middle management are openminded when it comes to adopting disruptive technology? And, will current challenges impact talent attraction and retention? For insights from pioneering industry leaders on these matters and more, watch the full session.
At World Aviation Festival, Luc Bondar, President of MileagePlus and VP of Marketing and Loyalty, United Airlines joined to discuss the airline’s marketing and loyalty strategies.
Touching on United’s well-known campaign with their new Chief Trash Officer, Oscar the Grouch, Luc portrayed marketing as a tool for storytelling and education, particularly in the context of communicating the airline’s sustainability journey. Luc elaborated:
“We have taken on an educational campaign to really help consumers understand the investments that we’re making that we think will change the future of flying, particularly around sustainable aviation fuel. […] And it’s really an education campaign to help consumers everywhere understand that our industry has an opportunity to be transformational in the role that we play in driving more sustainable flying, and we think we have a responsibility to do that.”
The conversation also touched on how the airline overcomes challenges that Gen-Z presents from a loyalty and marketing perspective. As Luc pointed out, the illusive generation has traditionally thought, “loyalty is not for me, I’m all about experience and low price,” prompting the airline to take a fresh approach, tailoring their marketing and loyalty to Gen-Z’s unique behaviours.
To hear United’s President of MileagePlus and VP of Marketing and Loyalty discuss communicating an evolving sustainability strategy, appealing to Gen-Z travellers, and using tech to deliver a personalised experience, watch the interview below.
After three and a half years of engineering and expansion works, Singapore’s Changi Airport has fully reopened Terminal 2 (T2). Adding an extra five million passengers per annum (mppa) to the airport’s capacity, the terminal opened ahead of schedule ready to embrace the full global travel recovery of 2024.
Mr Tan Lye Teck, CAG’s Programme Director for the Terminal 2 Expansion Project, said,
“Changi Airport has always been pushing the boundaries of airport service and innovation, while staying ahead of the latest trends in digital as well as retail and dining offerings. With T2, we sought to enhance the passenger experience, bringing together a modern terminal inspired by nature, with immersive digital experiences, innovative technology, as well as transformative retail and dining concepts that create a sense of place.
Image credit: Changi Airport Group
Image credit: Changi Airport Group
In addition to the breath-taking scenery of the new terminal, Changi is doubling down on technology to enhance the customer experience:
The number of automated check-in kiosks and bag drop machines have almost double.
Immigration halls have been expanded to support additional automated immigration lanes allowing more passengers to be served at any time.
A new early baggage storage system has also been installed that is fully automated with the capacity to handle up to 2,400 bags.
T2 will be the first terminal in Changi to have automated Special Assistance Lanes for persons with disabilities and young children at both arrival and departure immigration.
Passengers can even get a drink served to them by their first-in-airport robot bartender Toni.
In keeping with its reputation to excellence and awe-inspiring landscapes, Changi’s T2 blends state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology with nature-inspired beauty. Will you be visiting T2 soon?
At World Aviation Festival, Marina Bottelli, CEO, Swissport Italy and Thomas Sergnese, CCO, Value Group came together to discuss the importance of IROPS management in the aviation industry. In this concise interview, they shed light on Value Group’s contribution to maintaining a positive passenger experience even during disruption.
Thomas illustrated the importance of effective experience recovery, explaining:
“Statistical data shows that 8 out of 10 passengers do not travel with the same airline again if they are not offered any kind of assistance during disruption. So we believe a lot in experience recovery, which can only be achieved in our opinion, by assisting passengers whenever disruption occurs.”
Marina echoed these sentiments, emphasising the importance of a consistent level of service especially during disruption saying, “you can add value in a negative moment and make them feel cared for.” Additionally, Swissport Italy’s CEO highlighted the inherent difficulties with approaching these challenges whilst managing other tasks essential to irregular operations.
In an industry where IROPS can cause high profile disruption, the ability of industry players to provide travellers with the best service throughout is a point of differentiation.
Yesterday, it was announced that a world first for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will be taking place on 28th November 2023. After winning a permit from Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority, Virgin Atlantic is planning a 100 per cent SAF flight from London to New York at the end of the month to “to test and showcase the feasibility of flying on 100 per cent SAF.”
With SAF playing a key role in the industry’s decarbonisation strategy, the “historic” flight speaks to its feasibility as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Currently, SAF can be used in jet engines to a maximum blend of 50 per cent with traditional kerosene without the need for any modifications. When fully replacing traditional kerosene, SAF could reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by over 70 per cent.
The flight will be the product of collaboration between Boeing, Rolls-Royce, BP, the Department for Transport, and others pushing the fuel as a viable alternative.
Rob Bishton, Chief Executive, UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:
“As the UK’s aviation regulator, it’s important that we safely enable the industry to embrace more sustainable practices and push the boundaries of what’s possible to create a greener aviation industry. This permit not only allows Virgin Atlantic and others to showcase their commitment to sustainability, but also serves as an example of how the industry is always exploring new technologies. Innovation and sustainability are vital areas of work, but they must go hand in hand with safety. This is a reminder that together we can drive change, reduce emissions, and make the skies greener for generations to come.”
According to Reuters, Virgin now needs to gain permission from regulators in the US, Ireland, and Canada for the flight.
“We’re pushing ahead with proactive measures to enable more sustainable flying now and in the future, and powering flights from our Dubai hub is just one of the steps we’ve taken to reduce emissions and concretely help our customers minimise their own carbon footprint.”
As the potential of SAF for reducing emissions is demonstrated, it is imperative the industry tackles supply-related challenges to unlock its full potential.
At World Aviation Festival, Tamur Goudarzi Pour, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) & Member of the Board, Swiss International Air Lines joined to discuss modern airline retailing, with a particular focus on NDC (New Distribution Capability) adoption.
Building on an a discussion earlier in the year regarding generative AI, modern airline retailing, and NDC, Tamur defined some of the greatest obstacles to NDC’s widespread adoption and described it as a “starting point” in the wider modern airline retailing journey. Although the SWISS CCO acknowledged the extent of the task at hand, including replacing old technology and processes step by step, he ultimately stated with confidence:
“It’s a big challenge but I’m confident this time we should get it right.”
At World Aviation Festival Mauricio Parise, VP Brand Experience Design, Delta Air Lines sat with Henry Harteveldt to discuss how the airline is transforming the end to end premium travel experience. This conversation demonstrated why Delta’s tag line is “keep climbing,” with Mauricio highlighting the airline’s deep commitment to progress in all areas.
One key topic they conversation explored was maximising data. Delta’s VP Brand Experience Design showed the importance of making fast, complicated, and consequential decisions based on data, warning that “being ahead matters.” Mauricio also explored how the airline uses its data effectively across multiple channels to empower employees as well as craft an optimal experience for passengers.
The fifteen minute conversation additionally explored how Delta is capitalising on the shift towards premium leisure, understanding the changing passenger profile, and collaborating with other airlines.
At World Aviation Festival, Jitendra Sindhwani, President, Global Sales and Marketing at IBS Software joined for a brief interview exploring the challenges and opportunities in transitioning to Offers and Orders based airline retailing.
Acknowledging that the industry has so far not kept pace with travellers expectations due to dated technology and processes, Jitendra set out three broad categories of change that the industry will need to overcome in the move to modern retailing.
Looking forward, Jitendra sees positive change on the horizon with some airlines taking steps to prepare for the significant shift. Discussing the potential of technology, IBS Software’s President of Global Sales and Marketing also cited AI and ML at the centre of the change, shaping the future of travel and delivering an enhanced overall experience.
To hear all this and more watch the full interview below.
In recent years, there has been widespread discussion around the benefits of AI and its potential to drive efficiency in the industry. One of the areas technology is poised to make a significant impact is the turnaround process.
Schiphol Group Aviation Solutions have developed Deep Turnaround which uses AI to improve the aircraft turnaround processes based on historic, real-time, and predictive insights for all stakeholders. It “gives insight into what before was a blind-spot in data,” making turnaround predictable, and fuelling industry collaboration.
In cooperation with Schiphol Airport, Eindhoven Airport have recently deployed Deep Turnaround, boosting turnaround efficiency by pre-empting delays. The technology uses AI image-based processing and an AI-based algorithm to predict aircraft departure time and in some cases the delay can be detected as early as 40 minutes before the targeted off-block-time.
Deep Turnaround is also rooted in collaboration, pushing to create a shared product road map for mutual benefit. Using a single community model across all stands and airports, knowledge acquired at Schiphol or any other airport is immediately available at Eindhoven Airport, and vice versa.
Lennert L’Amie, Director IT & Data, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol said:
“The insights provided by data help to make the ground operation more predictable. We’ve collaborated with various stakeholders on Deep Turnaround to make the ground handling process more transparent. It’s worthwhile to share this knowledge with other airports and learn from their experiences so that we can continue developing the product.”
Currently, at Eindhoven Airport four aircraft stands are equipped with cameras to monitor the turnaround process looking to grow to 14 by 2024.
At World Aviation Festival, Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President, Chief Customer Officer, United Airlines joined for a discussion on the importance of understanding and meeting evolving customer expectations.
Linda pointed out some broad developments in passenger expectations and highlighted a discrepancy between customer behaviour and stated preferences. Illustrating this point, the United EVP revealed a surprising example: the no.1 meal choice for passengers during flight. The importance of supplying choice was underscored through this understanding of the multifaceted nature of passengers.
Looking to which innovations and technologies will shape the future of customer experience, Linda outlined the ways United is improving the mobile app. In addition to wayfinding tech, bag tracking, and an overall elevated digital experience, Linda showed the app is a communication tool that can be used to build transparency.
“What we’re doing is thinking about how we can provide transparency and frankly, give you some control back, especially when things aren’t going exactly to schedule. And so if a flight is delayed for any reason, it could be weather, it could be air traffic control, it might be something like a mechanical delay, we want to give you the information on our app so that you can see what your options are.”
To hear all this and more from this year’s Battle of the Apps winners, watch the full interview below.
CarTrawler and IdeaWorksCompany, the foremost consultant on ancillary revenue, have released the CarTrawler Worldwide Estimate of Ancillary Revenue.
The report defines ancillary revenue as:
“Revenue generated by activities and services that yield cashflow beyond the transportation of customers from A to B. This wide range of activities includes commissions gained from hotel bookings, the sale of frequent flyer miles to partners, and a la carte services. It’s the a la carte portion, which includes baggage and seat assignment fees, that represents the share directly paid by consumers.
One headline finding predicts a substantial increase in airline ancillary revenue, projecting it to reach an impressive $117.9 billion worldwide for 2023; a 7.7 per cent increase above the previous record of $109.5 billion record in 2019 and surpassing last year’s total of $102.8 billion for 2022. Chief Commercial Officer of CarTrawler, Aileen McCormack suggested the figures the need for airlines to identify additional revenue streams post pandemic.
Looking at the which airlines are maximising ancillary revenue, the report also shows low-cost carriers (LCCs) accounting for 31 per cent of market share. It further notes that US airlines are increasingly gaining momentum with the successful roll out of loyalty programmes and frequent flyer benefits.
While the industry’s complete recovery is not expected until 2024, the projected recovery in ancillary revenue for this year underscores its significance to future strategy. Read the full report for more detail.
At the World Aviation Festival, Stefanie Neumann, CEO, Lufthansa Systems joined for a discussion around digital transformation, innovation, and future trends.
Dismantling the complexity surrounding aviation’s digital transformation, Stefanie directly and succinctly addressed the main barriers to its successful progression. The Lufthansa Systems CEO put simply, “That is easily said. [The main barrier is] IT is not always perceived as a contributor to the value creation of our industry.” From this, Stefanie highlighted the need for a shift in perspective, recognising the tangible value that IT can bring.
As the discussion moved on to fully leveraging data and AI, Stefanie asserted:
“It is not rocket science, not at all. […] If we compare it to former concepts like business intelligence that we already learned a lot from, it is not that we have to start from scratch. We can develop and evolve from that and make sure that we make good use of the data for passenger handling, for turnaround management, for revenue integrity…”
Towards the end of the interview, the Lufthansa Systems CEO also made a compelling case for the industry’s responsibility to use technology in the push for sustianability. Here AI’s ability to optimise at every level was centred as a driver of change in the industry.
At World Aviation Festival, Tony Douglas, CEO, Riyadh Air joined for a conversation around the new airline and its focus on digitisation.
Tony stressed that having no legacy systems gives the airline freedom. As the carrier will not be shackled by outdated tech, it can “start from day one in a modern, digital way.” Although the CEO explained details on how the airline will engage with passengers will not be shared until next year, he highlighted that Saudi Arabia’s digitally native population “demands” the same seamless technological experience they are accustomed to in their daily lives.
Exploring Riyadh Air’s unique contribution to Vision 2030, Tony described the carrier as having a responsibility to make a strong first impression as tourists arrive. The airline is pushing for a twist on aviation looking to “send a message that this is modern Arabia.” Applying this across the airline, Tony highlighted that if you look at the aircraft livery, it has more in common with a global executive’s private jet than what you associate with commercial aviation. Although details deliberately limited, the conversation emphasised Riyadh Air’s commitment to being a modern, digital airline aligning with the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
Watch the full interview to hear directly from Tony on all this and more.
Last week, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the results of its 2023 Global Passenger Survey (GPS). The GPS results are based on over 8,000 responses from more than 200 countries and provide valuable insight into what passengers would like from their air travel experience.
Discussing the results of this year’s survey, Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security said:
“Passengers have made it clear: they want to spend less time booking and move through the airport faster. And they are increasingly willing to use biometric data to complete more pre-departure tasks off airport to achieve this.”
The GPS results restate that passengers value convenience. Whether this is for selecting the departing airport, choosing a payment method, or identifying a destination. Once at the airport, passenger expect a similarly streamlined process, and seem comfortable using technology or off-airport processes to facilitate this. Here are some of the key takeaways. You can view the full results here.
Among seven different payment methods, the most popular was credit / debit card (73 per cent), followed by digital wallet (18 per cent) and bank transfer (18 per cent).
Digital wallet penetration is most popular in the Asia Pacific region, where 41 per cent of respondents cited this as the preferred option. The next highest market was Europe (15 per cent) followed by Middle East (14 per cent).
25 per cent of potential product/services sales during the customer journey could not be eventually completed because of payment issues.
87 per cent of travellers indicated they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process, representing an increase from the 83 per cent reported in 2022.
Passengers want to complete more processing elements off-airport. 45 per cent of travellers identified immigration as their top pick for off-airport processing.
Passengers want more flexibility and more control in the baggage process. 67 per cent would be interested in home pick-up and delivery, 77 per cent said they would be likely to check in a bag if they could tag it and check it in before they get to the airport and 87 percent would be willing to check in a bag if they could track it.
75 per cent of passengers prefer using biometric data over traditional passports and boarding passes.
What growing trends do you think the 2023 GPS results will show?
Jane Ashton, Sustainability Director, easyJet joined for a discussion around the importance of adopting a multifaceted strategy and collaborative mindset when it comes to addressing the industry’s sustainability challenge.
easyJet is working to hit an interim target of reducing carbon intensity by 35 per cent by 2035, and a longer term goal of 78 per cent by 2050. However, the Sustainability Director warned “there is no silver bullet to decarbonise aviation.” Rather, the industry must commit to a wide-ranging, multifaceted strategy and show willingness to collaborate.
Discussing easyJet’s actions, Jane explained the airline’s approach has multiple layers including investing in fleet renewal and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), looking at operational efficiency, and calling for government to modernise airspace to name a few.
The airline’s Sustainability Director also highlighted that one of the key factors driving the industry’s progress is collaboration. In her discussion about the HIA alliance which unites major players in the UK aviation and renewable energy sectors, Jane highlighted the alliance relies on collaboration to accelerate the delivery of zero carbon aviation.
Thinking about the future of aviation, Jane summed up that the airline is working on “taking the carbon out of aviation rather than stopping people flying.” Watch the interview below to learn more.
For more interviews at World Aviation Festival see:
Last week, IATA, alongside its industry partners, successfully tested an integrated digital identity travel experience from shopping for flights to arrival.
Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security, said:
“Our vision for future travel is fully digital and secured with biometric identification. While the technology exists to do this at each stage of a journey, linking these steps together has proven challenging. Today with our partners we showed that it is possible. This will open up a world of possibilities for simpler journeys in the future.”
As the industry strives to create a seamless travel experience for its passengers, this successful testing marks a significant step towards realising this. IATA’s proof of concept video below demonstrates the impact of this technology on the passenger experience.
As the industry seeks to deliver these benefits, a clear emphasis is being placed on privacy and data control. IATA’s recent survey results found that half of all travellers are concerned over data protection, and “40 per cent would be more open to biometric solutions if they were confident that their personal information is secure.” Consequently, it is a “top priority,” that passengers keep control of their personal data with the shift towards digital identity. Careen explained:
“Information from verifiable credentials is shared on a need-to-know basis. While a government may request detailed personal information to issue a visa or prove admissibility to travel, the only information that will be shared with the airline is that the traveller has a visa and which type. Passengers want complete control of their own data. And that is what they will get—in a travel experience that is secure, simple and convenient.”
The test flight from London Heathrow (LHR) to Rome Fiumicino (FCO) with British Airways has made the future of paperless, convenient, and passenger focused flying seem closer than ever. However, bringing this into day-to-day will take extensive collaboration across the industry ecosystem.