Airbus and Neste sign MoU to advance the use of SAF

Airbus and Neste sign MoU to advance the use of SAF

Airbus and Neste sign MoU to advance the use of SAF

 

On 30 November, Neste announced their agreement with Airbus. The pair are seeking to advance the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The partnership is aimed at accelerating the aviation industry’s transition to the sustainable alternative to traditional jet-fuel. Together, Neste and Airbus are focusing on the technical development of SAF, fuel approval, testing of current and future production technologies, and investigating how “100% SAF” use can be enabled.

Neste is growing quickly. Already the world’s leading producer of SAF, the company is developing a new facility that will grow its production capacity to around 1.5 million tonnes of SAF per year. The scaling up of SAF production is fundamental to bringing down its price.

Discussing their latest partnership with Airbus, Thorsten Lange, Executive Vice President, Renewable Aviation, Neste said:

“Neste is at the forefront of accelerating the aviation sector’s journey to a more sustainable future. That journey requires cooperation across the industry’s value chain. This collaboration with Airbus connects a pioneer in the aerospace industry with a leader in renewable fuels. The combined knowledge and expertise of the companies will help advance the use and availability of SAF as a means of transitioning aviation towards more sustainable energy sources and reducing the climate impact of aviation.”

The EVP Communications, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Airbus Julie Kitcher said:

“At Airbus, we believe SAF is one of aerospace’s most promising decarbonisation solutions that can be used in both in-service aircraft fleets and those of tomorrow. We are proud to partner with Neste and drive forward the development and uptake of SAF, stimulating the creation of a commercially viable market for renewable aviation fuels. All Airbus aircraft are already certified for flying with up to 50% SAF, and this partnership will be instrumental to reaching certification for 100% SAF by the end of the decade.”

SAF is widely recognised as playing a critical role in achieving the aviation sector’s net-zero by 2050 targets. Partnerships like these are crucial for facilitating the industry’s transition to a sustainable future. For more articles exploring Neste’s partnerships read here.

Alongside SAF, hydrogen has been a significant focus for cutting emissions. Read about the recent industry breakthrough here.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Rolls-Royce and easyJet achieve a world first for sustainable aviation

Rolls-Royce and easyJet achieve a world first for sustainable aviation

Rolls-Royce and easyJet achieve a world first for sustainable aviation

 

On 28 November, Rolls-Royce and easyJet confirmed they successfully ran an aircraft engine on green hydrogen. This is understood to be a world first for the aviation industry.

Back in July 2022, the pair announced their partnership for developing hydrogen combustion engine technology capable of powering a range of aircraft. Since then, the companies have been trying to prove that hydrogen can safely deliver power for civil aero engines.

When hydrogen is used to generate electricity or combusted for motive power, the only waste product is water. Provided the hydrogen used is generated by renewable sources, it can offer a tangible reduction in emissions. In fact, hydrogen has previously been described by Grazia Vitaldini, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus as “one of the most promising technology vectors to allow mobility to continue fulfilling the basic human need for mobility in better harmony with our environment.”

Detailed in the press release, the test took place at an outdoor facility at MoD Boscombe Down, UK using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aircraft engine. The green hydrogen was supplied by EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre) generated by renewable energy at their hydrogen production and tidal test facility.

Thrilled by the milestone the pair had reached and its significance for the environment, Johan Lundgren, CEO easyJet said:

“This is a real success for our partnership team. We are committed to continuing to support this ground-breaking research because hydrogen offers great possibilities for a range of aircraft, including easyJet-sized aircraft. That will be a huge step forward in meeting the challenge of net zero by 2050.”

Committed to reducing emissions, developments in technology harnessing the power of hydrogen have been closely watched by the aviation industry. This breakthrough by easyJet and Rolls-Royce is therefore of great significance.

One of the other key developments that the industry has set its sights on for reducing overall carbon emissions is sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Watch an interview with the President of Shell Aviation here discussing SAF.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

How Emirates is reimagining retail

How Emirates is reimagining retail

How Emirates is reimagining retail

 

Emirates is well known for its luxury and excellent hospitality on board. Now, the airline is developing another aspect of its customer experience: retail.

Yesterday, on 28 November, Emirates officially opened its ‘Emirates World’ retail store experience in Jumeirah Town Centre. The airline has redesigned their 3,000 square foot retail store as an “open and fluid space for customers to shop for all of lounge their travel needs in a lounge-like environment.”

Describing the store, Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ Chief Commercial Officer said:

“Emirates World sets a new standard for the travel retail store experience and embodies our commitment to provide customers best-in-class products and services across every touchpoint. The opening of this latest concept store is an expression of our retail vision for the future and marks the first of several stores we’ll be opening in the coming years across our network. It’s also part of our larger retail strategy to make the store experience more convenient, engaging and personal.  We’ll employ a mix of the latest technology coupled with personalised one-to-one service from our highly knowledgeable travel consultants. Our open, welcoming, and functional space will also allow customers to discover our products like Premium Economy seats, in addition to a host of other elegantly displayed experiences.”

Once in the store, customers can engage in multiple interactive experiences. One option uses virtual reality, allowing people to immerse themselves in the airline’s cabins. Another is the Emirates’ Premium Economy Class seat display which lets passengers experience the comfort on offer in the airline’s Premium Economy.

Using technology to promote retail, there are LED screens across the store showcasing the latest Emirates products and promotional offers. Complimenting the use of technology across the store, there are also in person travel consultants on hand providing one-to-one service discussing airline ticketing, Emirates Holidays and Skyways consultant support, and more.

Blending technology and personal touch, the new Emirates store reimagines retail in line with their brand. The Emirates World retail stores concept is set to roll out across the airline’s network over the next three years.

Read here to find out about how Emirates is capitalising on the metaverse.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

AirAisa India partners with Sugarbox to launch in-flight entertainment ‘AirFlix’

AirAisa India partners with Sugarbox to launch in-flight entertainment ‘AirFlix’

AirAisa India partners with Sugarbox to launch in-flight entertainment ‘AirFlix’

 

AirAsia India has announced their partnership with Hyperlocal Cloud platform Sugarbox. The pair are launching ‘AirFlix’, a first-of-its-kind in-flight experience hub across the entire fleet.

 

What is it?

‘AirFlix’ provides over 6,000 hours of high-resolution content with access to more than 1,000 International and Indian films, short films, and over 1,500 web series episodes. The service is available for free to all passengers and simulates on-board WiFi for passengers even without in-flight connectivity.

The hub operates together with AirAsia India’s in-flight ancillary platform which opens up huge possibilities for the future. Discussing the launch, Siddhartha Butalia, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), AirAsia India, said:

“We’re excited to introduce the ‘AirFlix’ experience hub for fliers and to partner with Sugarbox on their pioneering technology platform, offering a wider and more diverse range of captivating content and a literally elevated user experience. We’re looking forward to leveraging the potential of this platform, introducing innovative features and technological integrations even beyond in-flight dining, entertainment, and shopping, and enabling personalised experiences that provide a distinct, differentiated flying experience in a hyper-competitive market.”

 

How does it work?

Sugarbox’s patented Cloud Fragment technology powers ‘AirFlix’. It works at a speed of up to 1 Gbps and has a storage capacity of 8 TB. Rohit Paranjpe, Co-founder & CEO Sugarbox said:

“We are delighted to partner with AirAsia India on their journey to revolutionise the flying experience with ‘AirFlix’. This is a first of its kind initiative globally, where we are bringing the power of the Cloud to aircrafts, using Sugarbox’s patented Cloud Fragment technology. It enables ‘AirFlix’ to offer many firsts in the industry – access to OTT Apps, E-commerce, News, Podcasts and In-flight F&B ordering. This is just the beginning of unlocking limitless opportunities for consumers through contextual, hyperlocal experiences. I’m very excited with what’s to come for ‘AirFlix’ and eager for fliers to start experiencing it.”

As AirAsia India embarks on this exciting chapter of their in-flight entertainment journey, it will be interesting to see how they leverage the platform and technology in the coming years.

Siddhartha Butalia, CMO, AirAsia India quoted above will be attending Aviation Festival Asia both delivering a presentation and sitting on a panel.

For content on the challenges of in-flight connectivity read here.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

British Airways grows CO2llaborate with the introduction of carbon removal credits

British Airways grows CO2llaborate with the introduction of carbon removal credits

British Airways grows CO2llaborate with the introduction of carbon removal credits

 

On 23 November, British Airways announced a new way for customers to fly more sustainably. The British flag carrier is offering passengers an additional method through which to offset their emissions. Adding to the existing options of carbon offsets and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), passengers will now be able to purchase carbon removal credits against their flight. This can be done via the airline’s online platform CO2llaborate built in partnership with Norway-based start-up CHOOOSE.

Carrie Harris, Director of Sustainability, British Airways said:

“By choosing carbon removals projects as part of their action to address the emissions associated with flying, our customers are not only joining us on our journey to a more sustainable future, but also helping accelerate the development of the vital carbon removal industry.”

 

British Airways’ CO2llaborate online platform

Learn more about the carbon offset platform here.

 

How do carbon removal credits work?

The airline explained in a press release that carbon removal credits are issued by projects that remove CO2 from the atmosphere or from the carbon cycle, and the credits are recognised by scientists, governments, and regulators as a vital tool in helping to address climate change.

 

Which carbon removal projects are available?

For now, passengers can select a blend of two recognised and certified carbon removal projects. In time the airline has ambitions to add more projects to their platform.

Blue Carbon Mangrove Project

The Blue Carbon Mangrove Project is a nature-based project (where plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis) in the Indus Delta Area in Pakistan. The project will support greenhouse gas removal by reforestation and revegetation of approximately 225,000 hectares of degraded tidal wetlands with mangrove and other species to absorb carbon dioxide, stabilise the area and protect the coastal area and communities.

Freres Biochar Project

The Freres Biochar project in Oregon, USA, sees the company’s biomass power production plant produce biochar, a carbon-rich charcoal-like material that is created when agricultural and wood waste is used as fuel. The process locks carbon into the solid material and prevents it from naturally decaying, locking carbon away and keeping it out of the atmosphere for several hundreds of years.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Birgir Jonsson, CEO PLAY – Keynote interview

Birgir Jonsson, CEO PLAY – Keynote interview

Birgir Jonsson, CEO PLAY – Keynote interview

 

At last month’s World Aviation Festival, John Strickland interviewed Birgir Jonsson, CEO of start-up airline PLAY.

PLAY is an Icelandic low-cost airline, founded in 2019 by executives from WOW Air. Only running for 1.5 years, the airline has already weathered one of the toughest periods in aviation history.

In the short, 15-minute interview, Birgir explores the benefits of starting in such tough conditions, explains the traps that often catch start-ups, and discusses how the airline has prepared for the next wave of challenges.

Additionally, the PLAY CEO discusses the airline’s model and how their niche enables them to remain laser focused on costs. Other points of discussion include PLAY’s expansion plans, lessons learned from WOW air, and getting the attention of investors.

 

 

2022 FIFA World Cup has airports preparing for 1.7 million visitors

2022 FIFA World Cup has airports preparing for 1.7 million visitors

2022 FIFA World Cup has airports preparing for 1.7 million visitors

 

The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off on Sunday, and all eyes are on Qatar. With a population of 3 million and a total geographic area of approximately 11,586 km², the host nation is the smallest country in this year’s World Cup. Across the course of the tournament, Qatar is expected to receive upwards of 1.7 million visitors with the majority of fans arriving by air. How are the host and neighbouring countries planning to accommodate this?

 

Qatar

Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Doha International Airport have been intensely preparing for the World Cup. The airports are anticipating approximately 200,000 people a day and the air traffic in both airports has reached an estimated 90 take-offs and landing per hour.

HIA underwent a series of expansion projects to increase the facility’s overall capacity from 29 million to 58 million passengers per annum Badr Al-Meer, airport chief operating officer, confirmed to Qatar News Agency (QNA). The projects included the “provision of 34 aircraft parking spaces on an area of 250,000 square meters.”

The airport also has a new transfer hall on concourse C, which is expected to reduce waiting times at through efficient security and customer service.

To alleviate some of the pressure on HIA, Doha International Airport has been reopened to passenger airlines. It is estimated that Doha International will receive approximately 12 per-cent of all flights to/from Qatar during the World Cup. Before September 2022, the airport had been closed to passenger airlines for eight years.

Flag carrier, Qatar Airways will also be providing Passenger Overflow spaces outside the airports for free use. The area will offer storage space for luggage as well as football festivities and live entertainment for fans.

Despite the extensive preparation, Qatar alone does not have the capacity to accommodate expected number of fans. Instead, people have been encouraged to stay in neighbouring states with daily shuttle services available. Consequently, Doha is expecting 20,000 daily visitors from the gulf to Doha. One key state offering this service is Dubai.

 

Dubai

120 shuttle flights will fly in and out of Dubai World Central (DWC) airport daily during the course of the tournament. This is set to increase DWC’s passenger traffic three-fold. According to Gulf News, to accommodate these forecast passengers, the airport has:

  • A dedicated front-line team to facilitate efficient processing at every service touchpoint, ensuring a consistently smooth experience and on-time departures.
  • More than 60 check-in counters.
  • 21 boarding gates.
  • 60 passport control counters (departures and arrivals).
  • 10 smart gates.
  • 4 baggage belts on arrivals.

Discussing the pressure that the World Cup will bring, Paul Griffiths, CEO Dubai Airports said:

“A spike in demand of this magnitude would pose a challenge for any airport, but we have had some recent practice. In May-June this year, we orchestrated the almost flawless temporary relocation of more than 1,000 flights a week from Dubai International (DXB) to DWC for the 45-day long DXB northern runway rehabilitation project, while managing an exceptionally strong recovery throughout.”

The Qatar hosted 2022 FIFA World Cup will run 20 November to 18 December. For more content relating to the World Cup read  ‘How Qatar Airways are maximising their ancillary revenue from the World Cup.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Turkish Airlines: profitability, growth, and sustainability

Turkish Airlines: profitability, growth, and sustainability

Turkish Airlines: profitability, growth, and sustainability

 

Turkish Airlines have recently recorded impressive third quarter results. The airline is currently operating even stronger than it was in 2019 before the pandemic. Demonstrating profitability, growth, and a strong engagement with sustainability, Turkish Airlines appears to be going from strength to strength.

 

Third quarter results

Turkish Airlines reported generating a net profit of more than $1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2022. This figure was up 131.3 per-cent from the pre-pandemic results of 2019.

Disclosing their success, the carrier said:

“Turkish Airlines finished the third quarter of 2022 with $1.5 billion net profit thanks to its operational agility and ability to meet the increasing demand with its highly skilled workforce and wide flight network it preserved during the pandemic.”

The Turkish flag carrier was able to hit the ground running as restrictions eased having retained their staff during the pandemic. In 2021, the then Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci explained:

“In addition to the many measures we have taken, we owe our success to the dedication of our employees. While other airlines employees are facing layoffs, we have not parted ways with any of our employees during this process; we have decided not to lay off staff in order to provide better service and faster recovery than other carriers.”

Turkish Airlines have also seen an increase in international passengers travelling with the airline since the pandemic. The airline flew to 335 destinations worldwide as of the end of October, up from 316 destinations in the same month of 2019.

 

New routes

The airline currently flies to more countries than any other in the world, connecting 278 destinations across four continents from 53 Turkish cities. Despite this, the airline has announced further expansion plans to fourteen additional destinations in September, building upon the cities identified as points of expansion in August.

The geographic breakdown of these are:

  • Ten in Europe
  • Seven in Africa and the Middle East
  • Six in Asia-Pacific
  • Five in the Americas

 

Sustainability

Acknowledging the scale of their operations, Turkish Airlines have been furthering their sustainability efforts and have been internationally recognised for doing so. The airline recently won the Airline Sustainability Innovation of the Year award by CAPA.

The award was for their innovation with Microalgae Based Sustainable Bio-Jet Fuel Project (MICRO-JET) which helped to develop the world’s first carbon negative sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The airline’s Chief Investment & Technology Officer Levent Konukcu said:

“’As the airline that flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, we appreciate the sustainable aviation fuel as a key element in our sustainability strategy on reducing aviation’s environmental impact. […] Beyond the use of biofuels, the fact that our support to scientific studies in the production of this fuel is crowned with an award here today makes us proud as it proves the correctness of the steps we have taken.”

Once the airline is able to use this biofuel it will be using the cleanest type of biofuel.

Turkish Airlines has recently dominated headlines with their profits, growth, and sustainability efforts. The carrier has hit the ground running following the pandemic and has been labelled one of the key airlines to watch in the future.

To read about the use of technology at Istanbul Airport read here.

Turkish Airlines will be speaking at Aviation Festival Asia in 2023, speaking on the CIO Panel: How are airline CIOs in Asia prioritising investments as we head further into 2023 to meet passengers digital demands and deliver on sustainability efforts? The airline will as be speaking on digital ambition.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

HSBC Star Alliance’s world-first Credit Card

HSBC Star Alliance’s world-first Credit Card

HSBC Star Alliance’s world-first Credit Card

 

On 15 November 2022 Star Alliance launched the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card powered by Ascenda. This is the world’s first airline alliance credit card. It is big news for the industry so here are the who, what, where, and whys.

 

Who is involved?

Star AllianceThe Star Alliance network, established in 1997 was the first truly global airline alliance. It offers the largest and most comprehensive airline network. The member airlines participating in the loyalty programme include: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, EVA Air, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, THAI, and United Airlines.

AscendaAscenda is a global rewards technology company with a cloud-based loyalty platform. The company ‘deploys reward solutions that enable brands to grow revenue and build deeper customer connections across the entire financial relationship.’

 

What is it?

The card is the first of its kind, bringing together seven of the world’s leading airlines on a single credit card platform. Traditionally, these cards are linked to a singular airline’s reward system. However, the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card allows customers a choice from multiple airlines with whom they can redeem points for frequent flyer programs.

Importantly for customers, they are able to earn Star Alliance Points on everyday eligible credit card purchases.

Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance said:

“Star Alliance is delighted to launch this industry-first loyalty product together with HSBC and Visa. This is very much consistent with a key strategy of Star Alliance which is to offer a loyalty proposition that others talk about.

This unique product is an outcome of strategic discussions with our member airlines for the Australian market. It will offer a new world of loyalty experience with not only the ability to earn points, but also a fast track to Star Alliance Gold Status through everyday spending. Star Alliance Gold Status offers a range of benefits such as lounge access and priority boarding across all Star Alliance member carriers.”

 

Where is the card active?

For now, the card is only available in Australia.

 

Why has this been introduced?

An HSBC Travel and Finance survey found that although Australians are prioritising travel in 2023, they are simultaneously looking to keep travel costs low. The survey revealed 24 per-cent of respondents who intended to travel overseas said they would pay for flights with credit card rewards and points.

The same survey also revealed 96 per-cent of respondents travelling overseas said they would consider tips and tricks to keep travel costs down.

Looking at the results, the Australian market appears primed for the introduction of a credit card which enables them to collect points for flying through every day purchases.

For more articles relating to earning points through everyday spending read ‘Catching a lift, ordering groceries, and now grabbing a coffee. Delta’s loyalty partnerships turning everyday life into miles.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Keynote Digital Product Panel: How do airlines create end-to-end digital products and services that can compete with other industries?

Keynote Digital Product Panel: How do airlines create end-to-end digital products and services that can compete with other industries?

Keynote Digital Product Panel: How do airlines create end-to-end digital products and services that can compete with other industries?

 

At World Aviation Festival in October, a panel of specialists gathered to discuss ‘How do airlines create end-to-end digital products and services that can compete with other industries?’

The panel was chaired by Henry Harteveldt and included:

  • Rogier Van Enk, SVP Customer Engagement, Finnair
  • Mark Nasr, SVP Marketing, eCommerce, Products, Air Canada
  • Kevin Macfarland, Managing Director, Digital Platforms & UX, American Airlines
  • Kevin Clark, CEO, Bluebox Ltd
  • Juliana Rios, Chief Information and Digital Officer, LATAM Airlines
  • Robert Mulet, eCommerce and Ancillaries Director, Avianca

The well-rounded panel held a wide variety of perspectives, visions, and suggestions leading to thoughtful and fruitful discussion. Exploring digital product and digital passenger experience, one resounding message was: the basics still need work first.

Where discussion of digital products and services can often result in conversations around flashy extras and eye-catching new technology, the panel had a general consensus that the industry must focus on developing the basics. Improve, simplify, make seamless.

There was also conversation surrounding the extent to which digital experience defines the passenger experience now. The panel acknowledged that the companies setting public expectations are outside of the aviation sector and that these companies are rapidly accelerating customer expectations.

Other topics discussed include:

  • Data
  • Digital as a differentiator
  • The pursuit of consistency
  • Creating a seamless experience
  • Infrastructure
  • The service business
  • Onboard retail
  • What the future will look like

The panel discussion is 45 minutes long and is packed with a wealth of knowledge and ideas.

 

 

 

Discussing sustainability with the President of Shell Aviation, Jan Toschka

Discussing sustainability with the President of Shell Aviation, Jan Toschka

Discussing sustainability with the President of Shell Aviation, Jan Toschka

 

At the World Aviation Festival in Amsterdam, I sat down with Jan Toschka, President of Shell Aviation to discuss sustainability.

We covered:

  • Different ways the sustainability discussion has shifted in recent times.
  • How seriously the industry is taking the need to decarbonise.
  • Current barriers to the broader use and production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).
  • Shell’s new blockchain powered book-and-claim solution Avelia, and how it will increase the production of SAF.
  • The importance of collaboration for meeting sustainability needs.

The industry has set its sights on SAF as one of the keys levers to decarbonise aviation. Defined as “renewable or waste-driven aviation fuels that meets sustainability criteria,” SAF has the potential to reduce lifecycle emissions by 80 per-cent when used in neat form.

Through replacing traditional jet fuel with SAF, the industry can hope to significantly reduce its carbon footprint. Consequently, SAF plays a large role in many airlines’ sustainability roadmaps. However, right now this costs two to eight times more than traditional, carbon emission heavy, jet fuel.

This cost creates a chicken and egg problem that Jan explains in the interview. On one side, airlines struggle to make commitments and on the other, fuel providers are lacking the strong demand signal to invest at scale and increase production, which in turn dampens demand because of SAF’s price premium. The Air Transport Action Group estimates that up to $1.45 trillion worth of investment over the next 30 years will be needed for scaling up production. During the interview, Jan discusses this dilemma and explores what steps are needed to overcome this to ensure there is enough SAF to satisfy demand.

One of Shell’s priorities is collaboration across the value chain to unlock demand in order to de-risk investment and grow confidence for SAF production and use. Shell has made headlines in the recent months – for example, in August 2022, Shell signed a landmark memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Lufthansa over a potential purchase agreement which could deliver up to 1.8 million metric tonnes of SAF over a seven-year period, starting 2024. When considering the ‘chicken and egg’ problem, MoUs like this one play an important role in helping to gain confidence that’s needed to scale up SAF production.

As a concentrated segment that also needs to decarbonise, business travel is uniquely positioned to play a role in scaling SAF demand. Jan explained how their blockchain powered book-and-claim solution Avelia is helping to decarbonise business travel, giving corporations the ability to buy SAF and receive its environmental benefits regardless of their geographic location.

Finally, the importance of collaboration was emphasised as it becomes increasingly apparent that airlines, corporates, governments, and suppliers must all work together to ensure the industry can make the required shift to sustainability.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

British Airways launch Amadeus Biometric Solutions to become the first UK airline trialling biometric tech for international flights

British Airways launch Amadeus Biometric Solutions to become the first UK airline trialling biometric tech for international flights

British Airways launch Amadeus Biometric Solutions to become the first UK airline trialling biometric tech for international flights

 

On 15 November, British Airways announced they are the first UK airline to trial the use of biometric technology for international flights. This utilises technology developed by Amadeus and adapted by the British flag carrier.

British Airways became the first UK airline to introduce biometric technology on domestic flights back in 2017. This technology recorded customers’ facial scans at Security and matched it to them once at the boarding gate. The airline continues to pioneer adoption of experience enhancing digital technologies. This 2022 trial marks a significant step in the UK’s journey towards offering a seamless journey to passengers.

David Breeze, Operations Transformation Manager for British Airways said:

“This is a secure and efficient tool that makes for a smarter and smoother airport experience, which will reduce the time it takes for us to board aircraft.”

 

How it works

Using biometric technology, passengers will not have to show their passport. This allows customers to travel ‘smartly’ through the airport.

Passengers involved in the trial will scan their face, passport, and boarding pass on their smartphone or tablet from the comfort of their homes. Once at the airport, Smart Bio-Pod cameras verify the passenger’s identity in approximately 2.5 seconds.

The trial is running for six months on British Airways flights to Malaga, Spain. Depending on the success of the trial, this technology will be extended to more international flights.

The technology can offer passengers an enhanced, seamless travel experience. Additionally, it can reduce queues within the airport, helps board passengers faster, and enables an optimisation of staff throughout the airport.

However, passengers will still be required to show their passport once at the destination airport. This is one of the key issues currently holding back the integration of advanced technologies in the aviation industry. Although technologies can be implemented at a domestic level, it is difficult to have the same technology uniformly in place at the corresponding international destination. Taking into account the holistic passenger journey, an entirely seamless journey is therefore difficult to create.

Not everyone is welcoming technology in airports with open arms. Read ‘What do passengers really think about AI and technology’ to find out more.

British Airways have been in the news lately with their carbon offsetting initiative, read here.

The topic of biometrics will be explored in detail at the upcoming Aviation Festival Asia in 2023. A CEO panel featuring Bangalore International Airport CEO will explore ‘the future of seamless travel through effective digitalisation and biometric technology.’

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Attracting and retaining talent with James Parker, Venari Partners – ‘I’m not sure everybody grows up wanting to be a pilot like they once did’

Attracting and retaining talent with James Parker, Venari Partners – ‘I’m not sure everybody grows up wanting to be a pilot like they once did’

Attracting and retaining talent with James Parker, Venari Partners – ‘I’m not sure everybody grows up wanting to be a pilot like they once did’

 

It is no secret that the aviation industry is struggling with staff shortages. The problem pre-dates the pandemic but was intensified by the cuts made during the crisis. More information about the labour shortages can be found by reading ‘What is holding young people back from joining the aviation industry?

Venari Partners help businesses to identify, attract, and retain essential leadership talent globally. They operate in niche markets – including aviation and aerospace – where their industry knowledge, extensive networks, and passion for these sectors make them market leaders.

In this interview James Parker, Director at Venari Partners discussed how to inspire people to work in aviation, the challenges of this, and the nuances of taking an international approach to bringing talent into the industry.

James explained that we must first look at why people join the industry when considering how to maintain candidates’ interest in aviation. There are many benefits to this sector, from opportunities for international travel and a range of lifestyle perks, to the social nature of the work and the development of transferable skills. However, as James points out, not everyone grows up wanting to be a pilot anymore. So, what is making attracting talent to the industry difficult, and how can airlines overcome this?

 

 

The full list of questions asked in the interview is:

  1. How can we keep talent interested in working in the aviation industry?
  2. What are the main challenges to this at the moment?
  3. How does talent acquisition differ from region to region?
  4. Could you explain a little about why it is so important to take an international approach to bring talent into the industry?

For more insight into Venari Partners’ thought leadership at the World Aviation Festival read here or watch this short video summarising their session.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Cathay Pacific Group announce ambitious recovery targets

Cathay Pacific Group announce ambitious recovery targets

Cathay Pacific Group announce ambitious recovery targets

 

The Cathay Pacific Group have announced their ambitious forecast for passenger recovery.

On 14 November, the airline group announced plans to hit pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the end of 2024. Looking shorter term, the group hopes to reach 70 per-cent of its 2019 passenger capacity by the end of 2023.

The Cathay Pacific Group includes Cathay Pacific and HK Express.

The planned recovery figures would position the airline group ahead of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predictions for the region. In March, IATA released ‘Air Passenger Numbers to Recover in 2024’ which predicted the APAC region would be the slowest to recover.

The 2022 predictions are close, with IATA estimating traffic to/from/within the region would reach 68 per-cent of 2019 levels and the Cathay Pacific Group aiming for 70 per-cent recovery by the end of 2023. However, IATA predicted 2019 levels should be recovered in 2025, while the airline group hopes to cut this date in 2024. https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/2022-releases/2022-03-01-01/

Cathay Pacific Group’s ambitious targets are even more impressive given their figures in 2022. Looking at Cathay Pacific’s traffic figures for March 2022, the carrier had a 99 per-cent reduction in passenger numbers compares to 2019.

Travel to the region is expected to dramatically increase following the lifting of quarantine rules for traveller entering Hong Kong. In line with the relaxation of travel restrictions, the Cathay Pacific Group announced the 3,000 more passenger flights between October and December 2022.

Augustus Tang, CEO of Cathay Pacific and leader of the overall business direction of the Cathay Pacific Group said:

“We are taking a measured and responsible approach to managing our own road to recovery, with a need to address challenges that are unique to Hong Kong. The city’s borders were closed for much longer than other markets and importantly, aircrew in Hong Kong were uniquely under quarantine constraints that weren’t lifted until September. […] Importantly, we have sufficient pilots, cabin crew and operational employees to support our current flight schedules, and we are confident that our ongoing recruitment plans will ensure this remains the case throughout the recovery.

The short-term bottlenecks lie in the recertification of pilots who have not been flying regularly for a long period of time and the reactivation of aircraft. We have been bolstering our capabilities to expedite this process”

 

For an overview of the APAC region’s return to travel read here.

Aviation Festival Asia in 2023 will explore

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Interview with Pierre Thach Hoang, CCO Bamboo Airways – A growing perspective

Interview with Pierre Thach Hoang, CCO Bamboo Airways – A growing perspective

Interview with Pierre Thach Hoang, CCO Bamboo Airways – A growing perspective

 

Pierre Thach Hoang, CCO Bamboo Airways discussed a range of topics in this short interview. Touching on everything from talent acquisition to sustainability, international routes to investment in technology, it is inspiring to get a perspective from a younger, ambitious, rapidly growing airline. The discussion surrounding digitisation is particularly interesting because, as a younger airline, Bamboo Airways has been able to integrate digitisation right form the start.

Only launching operations in January 2019, Bamboo Airways currently has 30 planes in its fleet and operates nearly 200 passenger flights per day. The airline is aiming to triple their number of planes to 100 by 2028.

One of the exciting areas Pierre explained was the ecosystem that Bamboo Airways have built to enable them to use dynamic marketing “to offer the right service at the right time” through digital channels. This ecosystem is built with the entire customer journey in mind. As such, Bamboo Airways will offer their passengers discounted taxi services before their flight. Additionally, it can be used to optimise the airport facilities once the passenger is within the building. One example given was if a restaurant is not full, Bamboo Airways can send out discounts to passengers to encourage them to eat there while they are already at the airport.

Watch the full interview below for more details on Bamboo Airways’ dynamic marketing and the below questions:

    • How would you describe the current landscape for growing carriers like yourself?
    • What role does digitisation play in your business?
    • What actions are you taking to prepare for your global expansion?
    • What role is technology playing in your growth plans?
    • What challenges are you encountering with your expansion plans?
    • Are you taking steps to develop your retail offering?
    • How have you been improving passenger experience?
    • What are you plans for the future with regards to Ancillary revenue?
    • How are you accommodating for sustainability as a growing as an airline?
    • Does technology play a significant role in your sustainability plans?
    • Why are you attending Aviation Fest Asia?

 

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Robert Carey, President Wizz Air – Keynote Interview

Robert Carey, President Wizz Air – Keynote Interview

Robert Carey, President Wizz Air – Keynote Interview

 

At last month’s World Aviation Festival Wizz Air President, Robert Carey was interviewed by John Strickland asking, ‘What is the next step in Wizz Air’s ambitious expansion strategy and how can it maintain that growth while still meeting big sustainability targets?’

The interview fell into two halves. The first looked at what Robert described as “the greatest hits of the airline industry.” Identifying the three huge, consecutive hits the industry has suffered in recent years: the global pandemic, war in Ukraine, current ‘challenging economic times’, Robert explored how these presented challenges for the airline.

The second half explored the pace and means of growth for Wizz Air. Exploring how the airline has diversified into new markets, the Wizz Air President insisted “we haven’t changed as much as the headlines make it look.” Identifying opportunities and using these to grow stronger, the airline is looking towards Saudi Arabia, looking East, and more to go from strength to strength.

 

 

In the interview, John refers to an interview with Eddie Wilson, Ryanair DAC CEO. To watch this see here.

 

What do passengers really think about AI and technology?

What do passengers really think about AI and technology?

What do passengers really think about AI and technology?

 

Like many other industries, aviation has seen a rapid take-up in artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in recent years. It has played a significant role in rebooting aviation in the wake of the pandemic, tying over companies suffering from staff shortages, and pushing for an enhanced passenger experience.

Accenture defines AI as:

“A constellation of many different technologies working together to enable machines to sense, comprehend, act, and learn with human-like levels of intelligence.”

From an industry perspective, technology is the solution to many problems. For this reason, much of the discussion at last month’s World Aviation Festival explored the uses, problems, benefits, and future applications of technology. Watch the interview with Michael Tan CCO Scarabee Aviation Group – “Technology at heart” and Keynote innovation panel – “Aviation tech innovation going into 2023 – time for a new mindset?”

A lot of time is dedicated to the businesses’ experience with AI and technology. But what do the passengers think?

 

The public perspective

In a study conducted for the World Economic Forum surveying opinions of technology (not limited to the aviation context), information on attitudes towards AI was gathered from 28 countries around the world.

The results demonstrated a belief that AI was prolific and transformative with 60 per-cent of adults surveyed saying they expect products and services using AI to profoundly change their daily life in the next 3-5 years. However, interestingly only 50 per-cent of respondents said they trust companies that use AI as much as they trust other companies.

Looking at this issue at a geographic level, the countries with the highest trust in companies using AI were China (76 per-cent), Saudi Arabia (73 per-cent), and India (68 per-cent). On the other hand, countries in the Western world demonstrate considerably lower levels of trust for companies using AI. This is exhibited in the responses from Canada (34 per-cent), France (34 per-cent), the United States (35 per-cent), Great Britain (35 per-cent), and Australia (36 per-cent).

Although it is interesting to see geographical patterns in the results, the important takeaway is AI can spark doubts around trust.

One area that has brought this into the public discourse is the use of biometrics in airports. A key concern voiced in this discussion has surrounded data. With a diverse spectrum of opinions regarding data usage and storage, the introduction of biometrics has served as a useful insight into public opinion on the growing presence of AI and technology in an airport context.

 

The passenger perspective

Narrowing the discussion to AI and technology in the aviation context, one research paper looked at the ‘Segmentation of passenger preferences for using digital technologies at airports in Norway’ 2021. Although the paper focused on Norway, the findings are indicative of broader responses to technology in airports.

The research found that:

“A large proportion of passengers now want more control over their journey with automated and/or more personalised options. Specific examples are the interest in mobile-based boarding passes, payments and services; digital bag tags; and the use of biometrics and other technologies at security.”

However:

“The findings also highlight the considerable diversity in passenger preferences and opinions regarding digital technology adoption. Specifically, there remains a small yet significant group of passengers more reticent to adopting digital technologies as part of their journey.”

Based on this research, the paper suggested offering a manual or human-assisted service option in parallel to technology intensive solutions so as to ensure meeting the expectations of a wider range of passengers.

Many airports already offer both options while they are introducing an increasingly extensive range of technology and AI driven systems. However, as airports pursue the ultimate seamless journey where passengers can keep their hands in their pockets from start to finish, these “manual” alternatives may slowly be phased out.

As technology and AI becomes increasingly entangled with the future of travel, the industry must take caution to remember those passengers who harbour a distrust for AI, struggle engaging with technology, or simply prefer interacting with a human.

The upcoming Aviation Festival Asia in early 2023 has a strong focus on technology and AI, promising to explore airport technology, the industry’s digital transformation and ambitions and more.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Willie Walsh, Director General IATA – Keynote interview

Willie Walsh, Director General IATA – Keynote interview

Willie Walsh, Director General IATA – Keynote interview

 

Willie Walsh Director General, International Air Transport Association (IATA) responded to questions from Guy Johnson at the World Aviation Festival. The interview covered, “Understanding the outlook for 2023 and how the industry needs to further adopt technology and standards to become more agile and ready for future headwinds.”

IATA is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing around 290 airlines and 83 per-cent of total air traffic. The Director General was asked some challenging questions by Guy Johnson during the interview.

In this 15-minute interview, the IATA Director General and the Bloomberg journalist explored a range of topics including lessons from the pandemic, pilot mobility, rigidities in the industry, capacity, and growth. With areas of robust discussion, this informative interview engages with multiple viewpoints to provide a nuanced exploration of industry questions.

 

 

The new(?) business traveller

The new(?) business traveller

The new(?) business traveller

 

The business traveller matters to the aviation industry.

Pre-pandemic, the business traveller made up approximately 12 per-cent of airline passengers but up to 75 per-cent of revenues on flights. When purchasing, they are famously less price sensitive than leisure customers. As an article in Forbes said:

“When a company is buying the ticket, all of a sudden a nonstop flight at the right time and in a premium seat all matter much more than the price.”

Avid users of airline loyalty programmes, bigger budgets, and reliable – the aviation industry thrived on business travellers.

But recent studies are suggesting up to 40 per-cent of airline business travel may not return after the pandemic. It is therefore important for the industry to understand who is taking their place.

 

The “bleisure” traveller

Blending business and leisure, the bleisure traveller appears to be the covid-catalysed evolution of the business traveller. But who, or what, are they?

At its most basic level, a bleisure traveller is a person whose travel mixes business and leisure. These passengers often extend the duration of their trip to incorporate more time for leisure activities whether this be at the start or end of the trip.

Since the pandemic-fuelled shift away from a 9-5 office-based structure, bleisure travel has rapidly increased. Hybrid or remote work lends itself to this blended type of travel, making it easier for employees go out earlier, or stay on from a business trip. Employees may also decide to stay abroad between two trips, taking their work from home equipment to the destination.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) ran a survey investigating the popularity of bleisure post-pandemic. The response found 90 per-cent of employees are more or equally as interested in bleisure travel compared to before the pandemic. As a growing market, and with the traditional business traveller looking unlikely to make a full recovery, it is important for the industry to understand the needs of this “new” traveller.

 


Article by Jess Brownlow

 

Interview with Eddie Wilson, CEO Ryanair DAC – “Sustainable aviation fuel is the key”

Interview with Eddie Wilson, CEO Ryanair DAC – “Sustainable aviation fuel is the key”

Interview with Eddie Wilson, CEO Ryanair DAC – “Sustainable aviation fuel is the key”

 

In this short, five-minute interview, Eddie Wilson, CEO Ryanair DAC said it loud and clear: airlines need affordable sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to maintain the industry and our economies need the aviation industry.

Eddie singled out SAF as a tangible, viable solution to curbing aircraft emissions. Explaining what he believes must happen for airlines to meet the net zero by 2050 target, Eddie discussed the need for governments to encourage energy companies to invest, the establishment of common policies on feedstock, and pushing SAF prices down to an affordable level.

Within the interview, the Ryanair DAC CEO packed in his decisive views on sustainability touching on technology, efficient aircraft, government incentives, and more.

This is the full list of questions asked in the interview:

  • Is Ryanair where it needs to be to achieve the net zero by 2050 targets?
  • What role will technology play in reaching these targets?
  • What are the most exciting developments we can look forward to within the industry in the next few years?

 

 

SAF in Ryanair’s sustainability policy

Ryanair is the fifth largest airline operator in the world and calls itself the “greenest and cleanest airline in Europe”. The airline has officially pledged to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and SAF plays a substantial role in these plans. Mapping out its sustainability journey, Ryanair plans to use 12.5 per-cent SAF by 2030 as well as invest $22 billion in greener aircraft.

In September 2022 the airline announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OMW to buy 160,000 tons of SAF over the course of eight years. This is estimated to save over 400,000 tons of carbon emissions. The largest airline in Europe also announced their partnership with Neste in April 2022, planning to power one third of flights at Schiphol Airport with 40 per-cent SAF blend.

For more information on SAF within the industry read Three landmark SAF deals in two weeks.