Interview with Chai Eamsiri, CEO THAI Airways – Embracing digital
This short interview with Chai Eamsiri, explores THAI Airways’ evolving relationship with digitisation. In line with their rehabilitation plan, the airline has shifted their approach, positioning digitisation at its heart. This evolution translates across the company from running operations with half the previous staffing levels to the different ways of reaching out to customers.
How are digital investments helping to grow your airline’s revenue?
What changes have you made to enhance the sales experience for your customers?
How will the return of China’s tourist market impact your strategy?
Interview with Aldric Chau, General Manager Digital, Cathay Pacific Airways Limited – Generative AI, data science, and tech trends
In this insightful interview with Aldric Chau, General Manager Digital, Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, the conversation explores the prevalence of data science and digital innovations for the industry broadly, before focusing in on how they materialise at Cathay Pacific.
Here, Aldric also identifies the tech trends he foresees having the greatest impact on the industry in the next few years and explores the potential of generative AI and ChatGPT.
In what ways has data science influenced the industry, and how is Cathay Pacific leveraging this?
Can you explain what drives Cathay Pacific’s digital transformation?
Would you be able to outline some of the digital product innovations with the most power to transform the industry?
Could you name two or three tech trends that you think will have the biggest impact on the industry in the coming year?
ZeroAvia and Fortum partner to develop hydrogen production
This week, ZeroAvia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fortum, one of Europe’s cleanest energy producers, focusing primarily on the Nordic region.
The Nordic countries consist of some of the most sustainable countries in the world including Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. These countries have ambitious goals with regards to reducing emissions. Last year, Denmark set 2030 as their target for dropping all fossil fuels from domestic aviation. Additionally, Finland set their sights on zero-emission domestic air travel by 2045.
ZeroAvia, a hydrogen-electric aircraft developer has a mission to see “a hydrogen-electric engine in every aircraft.” Only founded in 2017, the company already made history with a zero-emission flight back in January. This week, they announced a signed MoU with Fortum “to explore developing hydrogen production and refuelling infrastructure at airports in the region.”
“Scaling the renewable energy capacity and reducing costs pose clear, but fully surmountable, challenges to hydrogen as the fuel to power truly clean flights. Fortum is well positioned as a partner in this space, given the company’s clean energy focus and its emerging hydrogen leadership.”
According to the press release, the pair will look at removing emissions from flights and the wider airport ecosystem more broadly, exploring the potential development of on-the-ground hydrogen infrastructure at relevant airports.
The collaboration between ZeroAvia and Fortum creates a fertile ground for the challenges surrounding scalability to be worked through, hopefully producing advances in the hydrogen-electric space and pushing the industry closer to a sustainable future.
“A virtual credential derived from a state-issued passport and stored on the holder’s smartphone, being an exact representation of the electronic machine-readable travel document, which includes both the biographical data and facial image of the holder.”
DTC is designed to upkeep necessary, high levels of security while speeding up passengers’ journey through airport checks.
The pilot involves IDEMIA’s partnership with a Dutch Consortium consisting of the Ministry of Justice & Security, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defense/Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, co-funded by the European Commission.
Launched by the European Commission, the pilot will test the use of DTC-1 on KLM flights between Canada and the Netherlands for three months. Passengers involved in the trial can create a DTC on a dedicated mobile app in before of their journey. This will allow them to share relevant data in advance, making their movement through the airport faster and smoother.
The video linked below details the process.
The pilot will be trialled for three months before “most likely” being deployed at a broader European level.
Interview with Sumesh Patel, APAC President, SITA – Megatrends, collaboration, and Gen Z
Sumesh Patel is responsible for developing and driving the strategic direction of SITA in the Asia Pacific region.
In this five-minute interview, Sumesh highlights the ways the pandemic has transformed the industry for the better, how passenger needs are changing, and the evolving relationship between key industry stakeholders. SITA’s APAC President also discusses megatrends for the the next 2-3 years, picking out a few key shifts to be mindful of as the industry advances.
What has been the most exciting development in the industry’s digital transformation journey so far?
How do you think the pandemic changed the relationship between various industry stakeholders?
As the APAC region resumes international travel, what is one key lesson learned from the last few years that we must take forward?
What are the megatrends that you expect to impact the industry in the next 2-3 years?
Interview with Mandy Ng, CEO of HK Express – The benefits of digitisation
In this five-minute interview, Mandy Ng, CEO of HK Express pointed towards digitisation as a priority for the airline. Throughout the conversation, Mandy outlined the ways a strong digital approach underpins success across a multitude of areas for HK Express. This includes keeping customers engaged by responding to post-pandemic expectations, improving efficiency across the board, unlocking the agility required from LCCs, and more.
The HK Express CEO also elaborates on how ramping up digital strategy has helped while the region re-emerges from the pandemic and discusses the improvements in conversion rates as a consequence of upgrading the airline’s mobile app.
How is the current macro economic climate impacting bookings and yields?
What are the challenges of scaling back up as the industry re-emerges in this region?
How much of a priority is your digital strategy and what impact does that have on the passenger experience?
Amadeus and Microsoft’s report ‘Delivering Traveller Value’ restates the potential of data
Last week, Amadeus and Microsoft published a co-authored a whitepaper exploring ‘how new technologies will make the experience of travel better.’ The report broadly explores how an understanding of the ‘purpose’ and ‘context’ of each trip would unlock value for the travel industry whilst greatly improving the experience for each passenger.
One facet of the report explores the central role of data in achieving the next stage of the sector’s evolution. The paper stated “the industry will not be able to move forward without more effective usage of data.” One such improvement, the whitepaper advocates, is a more collaborative approach across the entire passenger journey.
“Too often different stakeholders – airlines, hotels, agents, and ground transportation cannot share what they know about travellers’ preferences. Data is siloed, both within organisations and across the industry. If a plane is late arriving, a hotel may not be aware, or a transfer may depart without the delayed traveller. This will have to fundamentally change if the industry is to realize the maximum potential of each trip.”
Importantly, the paper stresses the need to dismantle these siloes, navigating a path by which insights can be shared.
Wolfgang Krips, Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy, at Amadeus said:
“When a person travels, they go through several channels, generating data each time. Our goal is to create a link between each of these data pools and to allow our customers to extract relevant analysis, ensuring compliance at all times with applicable legislation and the highest security standards.”
This has the potential to transform the service the industry can provide passengers, creating a seamless and personalised experience whilst establishing new revenue streams. Through a collaborative approach to data, the passenger journey can be transformed, reducing friction and unlocking new possibilities.
The Travel in Motion and Oystin teams attended Aviation Festival Asia this week. We had the opportunity to catch up with industry colleagues in warmer climates, and the opportunity to taste some fantastic local dishes too! Though there was one experience that we rarely get to trial at home in Europe: the super app.
Super apps are prominent here in Southeast Asia and China. They offer a wide range of financial instruments and online-to-offline services such as food delivery, package delivery and transportation. These super apps position themselves in their user’s daily life and create a marketplace around just about anything. The apps are typically connecting buyers with suppliers that, until now, may not have had a digital presence, for example taxi drivers, takeaway houses, and laundrettes.
The super apps have the similar measures for success: user acquisition and retention. It’s all about user activity (and accompanying revenue, of course). They prioritise having access to the right content overlaid with making a customer’s shopping, booking and fulfilment experience excellent. In doing so they increase their share of sales with the supplier, putting them in a superior distribution position. For some services they even set the price, for example with ride hailing.
Customers who find something easy to use return time and time again, often no longer giving the competitors a second look. The super apps are a snowball, the value users place in their brands are increasing and the more daily users they acquire, the easier it is to launch a successful new service.
Airlines too have capitalised on their well-known brand to become part of a user’s daily life, albeit in a different way – the loyalty programme partnership. Your wallet may contain a credit card with an airline logo, your supermarket may advertise the opportunity to earn points and whilst you top up fuel for your car, you may also be topping up your air miles account too.
Whilst airlines are striving to become better retailers, a super app is an extreme form and its value versus cost is unproven. Here are some questions to consider before going down this path:
“Is it a feasible proposition for an airline to execute on? Would it lead to positive daily experiences with its brand or lead to negative brand impact?”,
“Why would consumers choose an airline over Grab, Uber, WeChat etc…?”,
“Should an airline offer these additional services and become a more integral part of users’ daily lives?”,
“Does the current loyalty play, where airlines partner with everyday brands, already go far enough to build brand loyalty and affinity to the airline?”, and
“Would it lead to consumers valuing the airline brand so much that they don’t shop for flights elsewhere?”
Super apps are built on a deep motivation for excellent user experience, consistency, and commercial policies which promote an ease of doing business. To meet these expectations, super apps have modern, fast, and scalable systems.
One question that arises is whether super apps pose a risk to an airline’s distribution and commercial strategies, could a super app change the airline market in the same way it did for ride hailing. Very few super apps offer public transportation services today. Air Asia’s super app does sell flights and hotels. However, it is powered by an online travel agency (OTA) so the experience is limited to what the OTA can provide, which in turn is often limited by the functionality of the airline. Uber has recently launched trains and coaches on its app and has shown an intent to sell flights too. However, they obtain their content, they are likely to face the same issues as Air Asia, the experience they can provide is limited to what the airline’s capabilities are.
So, should an airline enter this space too? Are they at risk of missing out? Airlines have a lot of competing priorities to contend with, such as their own financial stability as they recover from the COVID-era. Purists may argue that airlines should focus on efficient, safe, and enjoyable transportation. Others within the airlines are focused on a diversification of income streams by leveraging the airline brand. An example of where this has been successful is the airline loyalty business units. They were able to raise funds during COVID, which for some airlines provided a significant lifeline.
Travel in Motion’s (TiM) opinion is that running a consistent experience across multiple services is not for the faint-hearted. This takes considerable focus to get it right, and that will lead to less attention on the airline’s core business. However, we do believe airlines still can learn a lot from the super app experience to guide their own digital offering. Offering relevant and personalised offers, easy-to-use booking systems and a well-designed digital experience to accompany the physical travel journey is extremely valuable to a growing segment of customers.
Airlines have already started down this path by pursuing modern offer and order management systems, a key enabler to meeting the modern customer’s expectation. Those systems could help airlines become a super app. However, we at TiM believe there are many areas airlines will choose to improve once they have a modern technology stack. In doing so they will strive to improve customer satisfaction, revenue, and de- risk being commoditised.
In the meantime, whether you are attended Aviation Festival Asia or not, consider downloading a super app and experience what your customers are experiencing on a daily basis.
The future era of technology-driven smart airports
To keep pace with the ever-increasing needs and demands, airports worldwide are constantly evolving. With air travel on the rise again, airports are not just expected to facilitate passengers and cargo movement; they also need to expand their horizons to cover other crucial aspects, like:
Execution of seamless operations with low to minimal manual intervention,
Augmenting safety and health protocols,
Optimizing the use of facilities, preventing wastage, and becoming sustainable,
Scaling up scrutiny and security, and,
Boosting passenger experience.
At the same time, with the high scarcity of human resources in most of Europe and North America, the need to establish measures to utilize resources efficiently has never been as critical.
The challenges are not new; airports have been addressing them over the years by embracing technology at different stages of their growth. However, each of these challenges has evolved and needs airports to adopt state-of-the-art technologies to keep up with the changed dynamics. This evolving era of airport digitalization and digital disruption, which saw its inception decades back, constitutes what we call ”smart airports”.
Within the smart airport ecosystem
Smart airports stimulate the need for an integrated and comprehensive ecosystem that demands the airports to be not only fully functional but also intuitive, efficient, and predictive. This also requires that the manual airport processes, which are often slow and error-prone, be reduced and digitally governed to bring automation, efficiency, and accuracy to day-to-day functioning.
Smart airports are functional, intuitive, efficient, predictive, and digitally governed.
Therefore, it becomes imperative that digital technologies and solutions like cloud networks, biometrics, mobility solutions, data science and related fields, immersive technologies and IoT, and other sensors-based solutions, be leveraged increasingly to encompass the diverse areas of airport operations and processes.
Although the smart airport concept is blooming in several spheres, the following are the three regions where we think airports can drive maximum gains:
1. Achieving airport operational efficiency through data and digital engineering
Airports are structurally complex, and a single channel does not drive their smooth functioning. A deeper understanding of the intricate association and dependency of various airport departments has brought awareness that siloed operations cannot be the solution to achieving operational efficiency and resilience. Airport stakeholders need to be transparent and readily available with real-time data they can exchange to deliver consistent and exceptional performance.
With the right technology and data solutions, airport stakeholders can achieve efficiency and productivity.
To achieve this, more and more airports should start adopting networking and collaborative frameworks like AOP (Airport Operational Plan) and ACDM (Airline Airport Collaborative Decision Making). These frameworks encourage initiatives to promote data sharing and transparency within and between airports.
Data science and AI must be leveraged to derive meaningful insights from past and present data. Building such data-rich integration platforms can help airports extract immediate and real-time information from various interconnected departments. This will help smoothen communication and increase responsiveness in multiple ways. For instance:
Swift and efficient allocation of gates and counters to airlines
Smooth passenger flow management with better predictability
Better resource management
Improved runway slot adherence
Further, airports can also employ sensor-based solutions in various areas to improve efficiency. For example, using RFID-based solutions that can read data instantly from numerous items like luggage and cargo and can aid in bulk item transportation with proper tracking and tracing. Also, it simplifies the manual and time-consuming inspection of assets by instantly reading information like expiry date, next due scan date, etc., from the asset and sending it back to the data source.
Similarly, technology in the form of mobile solutions can also stand out in comparison to the usual paper-based checks. Their highly interactive and data-rich interfaces allow airport staff to send immediate updates, retrieve data, and take corrective actions.
2. Upscaling the passenger experience
Since passengers spend more than 60% of their total travel time at the airport premises, their comfort and convenience put a lot of onus on the airport’s authority. Even with many initiatives to smoothen the process, passengers invariably express their distress towards adhering to the airport’s elaborate checks and protocols. The actual journey that begins from flight take-off for passengers exhausts them beforehand due to the:
Need to reach airports hours before flights take off,
Long and unpredictable waiting times in several queues,
The exhaustive process of baggage tracking and collection,
Extensive scans and scrutiny, and,
Being unheard and feeling lost in the complex airport maze.
Understanding passengers’ needs, their interaction with various touch points across the whole journey, predicting their next move, recommending them with the right offer, and intuitively guiding them in the right way are some areas where airports can effectively act. Again, customer data plays an important role here. Keeping track of customer preferences, concerns, and historical transactions can help airports in improving those relationships and bring in a personal touch.
The long-term vision of airports for a passenger aims to shift the notion of “being stuck inside the airport” to “experiencing a world of leisure and excitement.”
With features like smart parking, virtual queues, digital identities, baggage notifications, personalized merchandizing and recommendations, smart menus and smart washrooms, virtual assistance, and an immersive feel, more and more airports can work to provide a different experience beyond the usual to the passengers.
3. Bringing in greener initiatives
Now that the aviation industry’s contribution towards global greenhouse emissions is well established (around 3% of the total emissions), airports need to pace up to achieve their target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 or before. The path to net zero is long and challenging, and although there are measures being taken, much is yet to be done in this zone.
By embracing smart operations using data and analytics, airports can reduce their carbon emissions.
Some ways to become a green airport would involve the following:
Tracking & MitigationThe first step requires thorough analysis and regular tracking of direct and indirect sources that contribute to emissions. After that, airports need to define immediate short-term and long-term sustainability targets. To achieve this, airports must start by leveraging sustainability tracking solutions and showing progress towards net zero objectives. For example, using cloud-based sustainability platforms that offer detailed dashboards and provide periodic details on fuel consumption, offset achieved, emissions via waste, business travel, etc., and other sources and provide a clear progress report using science-based targets.
Moderating the consumptionAlthough some airports are also considering shifting towards renewable energy sources by setting up solar panels and using CNG, reducing incidents from day-to-day airport operations (wherein the consumption of resources like fuel, water, and electricity goes much beyond the need) should also be tracked. Keeping a continuous and consistent check on these expenditures would certainly go a long way in keeping up with the net zero goals.
Technologies like sensor-based IoT devices could also be harnessed to regulate the usage of electricity, water, and air conditioning as per need by sensing a human presence. Similarly, computer vision-based ML solutions could be used to build smart dustbins that identify types of waste and help in proper disposal. Leveraging AI and analytics could aid airports in measuring the food, paper, and other waste passengers generate. This can help drive eco-conscious passenger initiatives.
In the stride to become exceptionally performant, there is a continuous need for airports to explore further upcoming avenues and adapt. Also, emerging technologies and innovations play a huge role in curating specific solutions, and the coming times will see them being leveraged even more. It would be apt to say that with all these digital disruptions, the long-term vision of airports will be to bring efficiency, comfort, and luxury inside the terminals.
Letsfly Co-founder – 3 Key Elements For Airlines & Retailers To Improve Distribution Strategies
The travel & airline industry always undergoes a rapidly changing commercial landscape. Understanding how to navigate it is a key component of success.
One of the biggest challenges airlines face is the shifting dynamics between carriers and their distribution partners. Could this be a sign of fragmentation for airline distribution? If so, then could there be signs of reaggregation emerging on the horizon?
GDS to NDC and Direct API
GDS has historically dominated the distribution market, and airlines must seek flexible and cost-effective distribution solutions and other alternatives. As a result, Next Generation Distribution Solutions (NDC, Direct API) surged in popularity as they offered more agile adoption methods.
However, there are still critical aspects that require special attention, and airlines and retailers must first know how to analyze them, before defining their approach. And that begins by looking beyond the traditional solutions, and preparing for success by knowing how to effectively adopt a New Distribution Solution.
How to prepare for success with a New Distribution Solution
Kelvin Fu, Co-founder of Letsfly (a provider of high-quality content so airlines and travel organizations lower distribution costs and reach new markets), believes that the New Distribution Solution model presents both challenges and opportunities. Which is why he states that it’s important for airlines and retailers to first understand three key aspects to prioritize their efforts.
The 3 critical elements airlines and retailers must prioritize
How to cover more markets at lower costs for airlines
How to support the sales of diversified products more flexibly, such as ancillaries and bundles
How to ensure a satisfactory ticket purchase and post-sales service experience for travelers under the New Distribution Solution
To achieve success, companies need to focus on important areas such as expanding market coverage while reducing costs, supporting the sales of diversified products like ancillaries and bundles, ensuring a seamless customer experience throughout the ticket purchasing process and post-sales services, and assessing technical performance and effectiveness.
According to Kelvin Fu, Co-founder, Letsfly:
“It’s crucial to have a distributor with extensive and quick market coverage, who can establish direct API connections, and handles the entire case, this especially means post-service. Only in this way will distribution strategies be optimized in the New Distribution Solution model”
How to solve the 3 critical key elements:
Ensure your distributor has extensive and quick market coverage.
Reduce third-party process, build direct API connection with distributors.
Partner with a distributor that provides end-to-end solutions to your case.
By focusing on these key aspects and collaborating with distribution partners – airlines and retailers can be in a position to adapt in this rapidly changing landscape. Through this, they optimize their distribution strategies and provide a better overall experience for their customers.
“It is essential to pay attention to issues such as market coverage, product diversification, customer experience, and technical performance to succeed in a rapidly changing market. By doing so, airlines and retailers can benefit from greater efficiency, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.” – Kelvin Fu, Co-founder, Letsfly.
New Distribution Solutions have been around for some time, but airlines always need to adapt to changing consumer preferences and seek to diversify their product offerings. As a result, more airlines have been adopting lightweight and flexible distribution methods, moving away from the traditional GDS model. While this trend was initially led by low-cost carriers looking to save costs, it has evolved into a more fragmented market.
Flexible, Adaptable, and Tailored Solutions
To tackle this issue, Letsfly offers tailored solutions that are more flexible and adaptable. The goal is to offer airlines and retailers a distribution solution that helps expand market coverage while keeping costs low, support the sales of diversified products, ensure satisfactory customer experiences, and improve technical performance.
“New innovations will continue to emerge and disrupt the industry, as more companies are open to adopt these solutions. Those who understand how to navigate this landscape successfully can expect to achieve greater efficiency, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.” – Kelvin Fu, Co-founder, Letsfly.
Collaboration and Customer-Centric Strategies
As with any industry, the travel, aviation and hospitality sector will always continue to evolve, and collaboration with distribution partners is key to success in this ever-changing industry. Airlines and retailers must be open to embrace new technologies and collaborate closely with their distribution partners to achieve success.
Many new companies are emerging to innovate and potentially replace the traditional GDS’s position, and become the new dominant solution. So it is important for airlines and retailers to work together with their distribution partners.
This will help to foster long-lasting relationships with customers in order to remain competitive in an industry that is constantly changing.
In the end, success in the travel industry is all about the customer. By investing in strategies that are customer-centric and tailored to their needs, airlines and retailers can build long-lasting relationships that will keep customers coming back for more.
It won’t be an easy road, but those willing to embrace change, experiment with new approaches, and collaborate with their distribution partners will be the ones that thrive in it.
Letsfly is an innovative company focused on providing high-quality content to travel organizations while helping airlines lower their distribution costs, reach new markets and maximize profit. Its mission is to improve travel distribution with cutting-edge technology and provide long lasting value to its customers. The company was founded in 2014, with headquarters in Beijing (China) and offices in Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore, and Dublin.
The flight to stability: learning from the financial markets to inspire robust technology in the airline industry
The financial markets have seen remarkable growth and success in recent years, driven largely by the adoption of advanced technology infrastructure and automation. In the world of high-frequency trading, speed and efficiency are essential, and the transition from manual to electronic trading systems has been crucial in meeting these demands.
By enabling faster and more efficient trading, electronic systems have increased liquidity, tightened bid-ask spreads, and lowered trading costs, all of which have helped to drive growth and profitability in the capital markets. The benefits of automation and advanced technology infrastructure extend beyond just the financial markets, with other industries, such as the airline industry, beginning to explore their potential.
However, the airline industry is still grappling with outdated systems that are not equipped to handle the volume of data and volatility inherent in the industry. Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Southwest Airlines computer outage and Lufthansa IT failure, have exposed the industry’s limitations. Thus the capabilities of the financial markets’ systems provide a valuable example for the airline industry to follow.
The financial markets have developed robust technology infrastructure, utilizing state of the art technology available at every period, including advanced machine learning algorithms and AI, which enable high-frequency trading and automated trading. These systems can process vast amounts of data with hundreds of millions of actions per second and operate on millisecond timescales, all without crashing. By implementing cross-industry technologies like ML algorithms and AI, airlines, even though lagging decades behind financial markets, can modernize their infrastructure and move towards more efficient and stable systems, enabling them to make smarter decisions based on real-time data and predictive analytics.
The potential benefits are significant. By leveraging third-party vendors, airlines can streamline and optimize their operational processes, resulting in cost savings of up to 10-20%. Furthermore, according to a recent ‘Precedence Research’ report, the implementation of AI in the airline industry is projected to grow at a CAGR of 35.38% from 2022 to 2030, offering a significant growth opportunity for airlines to enhance their operations and improve the passenger experience.
The benefits of implementing new technology and infrastructure upgrades extend beyond operational efficiency and increased profitability. By modernizing their systems, airlines can also enhance the passenger experience. For instance, airlines can leverage data analytics to personalize the travel experience for each passenger, offering customized services and recommendations based on their preferences. Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can help passengers navigate the booking and check-in process, reducing wait times and improving overall satisfaction.
While the airline industry faces several challenges in modernizing its technology and infrastructure, cloud-based systems that offer remote control and easy onboarding, along with third-party vendors, can provide a flexible and scalable solution for airlines to optimize their operations while reducing operational risk.
According to a report by Allied Market Research, the aviation analytics market was valued at $2.78 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $8.21 billion in 2030, registering a CAGR of 11.72%.
In conclusion, the aviation industry can modernize their technology and infrastructure with cross-industry technologies like ML algorithms and AI, as well as by collaborating with third-party tech enablers. This can enhance operational efficiency, reduce delays, improve the passenger experience, and increase profitability. By adopting these innovative strategies, airlines can make smarter decisions based on real-time data, leading to higher revenue and stability. This will give them a competitive edge in the industry and enable them to stay ahead of the curve.
Article by Dr. Uri Yerushalmi, Co-Founder and Chief AI at Fetcherr, Former CEO and Head of AI for a major algo trading firm. Three decades of experience in software development and AI.
What to expect at Aviation Festival Asia with Aurore Duhamel
Aurore Duhamel works on digital innovation in a large airline and is a Community Manager of French Tech Blockchain (FT Blockchain). As a digital business leader with extensive experience in crypto payments, blockchain, NFTs, Web3 strategy, and aviation Aurore is well positioned to contribute to the discourse on digital payment ecosystems at Aviation Festival Asia.
On day two of the event, Aurore will be moderating a panel titled ‘How can airlines keep up with fast-paced digital payment trends.’ This panel involves the Head of Payment Facilitation Solutions at IATA, the Chief FinTech Officer at AirAsia, the Payment Strategist at Singapore Airlines, the Global Head of Travel & Airlines, Digital Commerce at Worldline, and the Director, Airlines at Mastercard. Aurore will facilitate the discussion exploring topics including FinTech capabilities and the importance of creative payment partnerships.
Listen to the five minute audio interview to hear Aurore’s take on why the APAC region is so exciting, what key trends to look out for at Aviation Festival Asia, and what to expect from the digital payment trend panel.
Lufthansa becomes the latest in a string of tech-based failures causing travel chaos
Lufthansa has cancelled over 1,200 flights scheduled for today as airport workers execute planned strikes across seven German airports including Frankfurt, Munich, and Hamburg. This is the second, deeply disruptive incident the German airline has experienced this week.
On Wednesday, an IT failure for Lufthansa airline stranded thousands of passengers, cancelled over 200 flights, and delayed over one hundred more. The “group-wide IT system failure” caused travel chaos with passengers reporting the company was forced to resort to manually organising the boarding of planes as it could not process luggage digitally.
The cause of the IT failure was identified as damaged fibre optic cables which were mistakenly cut by engineering works on a railway line in Frankfurt.
This incident comes as the latest in a string of recent tech-based failures. In December, Southwest’s outdated optimisation technology contributed to their mass cancellations over the holiday season costing the airline a predicted $825 million. Weeks later, a glitch in the FAA’s computer system caused thousands of flights across the US to be grounded disrupting approximately 10,000 flights.
Although the cause of Lufthansa’s recent tech failure differs slightly from these two cases in the US, the incident again highlights the disruptive results of tech-based failures. As airlines continue to develop their digital offerings, it is imperative they maintain updated, efficient, and reliable technology.
As mentioned in an exclusive interview with industry analyst Henry Harteveldt, the recent operational problems suffered in December have “sparked some rethinking and re-examination among some Asian carriers about their technology investments and prioritisations.” Henry highlighted this as one of the key topics to listen out for at Aviation Festival Asia at the end of the month. Here, at the region’s most important aviation technology conference and exhibition, leaders of the world’s airlines, airports, and their most senior executives in charge of software and services will gather. To be a part of the conversation, get your ticket now.
Encapsulating the world-famous airport’s customer focused and technology driven vision, the 33-square-feet boutique has a range of immersive experiences and services for passengers, including an AI ambassador, digitalised merchandising units, robot bartenders, and VIP tastings.
“We are proud to launch the Martell AI-powered boutique, which harnesses the power of data and technology to deliver personalized customer-centric experiences; a key tenet of the Changi Airport retail experience.”
Located in Changi’s Terminal 1 Lotte Duty Free store, the interactive exhibit features the ‘Martell Untouchable Taste’ tool, which “guides shoppers through the Martell range, and provides personalized tasting recommendations based on their preferences. This recommendation is then sent to the Martell robot bartender, who proceeds to serve the desired beverage to the customer.”
With Changi consistently positioning itself at the forefront of innovation, the integration of this “retail theatre” continues to elevate the airport experience though new and engaging technologies.
What to expect at Aviation Festival Asia with Henry Harteveldt
Henry Harteveldt is one of the world’s best-known travel industry analysts and President of Atmosphere Research Group, a company providing market research and analysis to the global travel industry. With over a decade’s experience in identifying emerging travel trends, Henry is well-equipped to discuss the landscape of the industry at the event making perceptive observations and encouraging thoughtful analysis.
In this short ten-minute interview, the Atmosphere Research Group President highlights a few aspects of the Asia-Pacific region which make it so consequential for the wider evolution of the aviation industry. Moreover, the Atmosphere Research Group President shortlists some key conversations to look out for in the “open, honest, and unfiltered” discourse at Aviation Festival Asia.
Henry will be participating in multiple sessions at Aviation Festival Asia including:
Interviewing Haoyu Dai, Divisional Vice President Digital, Singapore Airlines Limited on how the industry can accelerate digital solutions that optimise operations and improve the customer experience while overcoming challenges of legacy systems.
Interviewing Kerem Kiziltunc PhD, Chief Information Officer at Turkish Airlines on digital ambition at the airline
Moderating the closing keynote digital product panel with the General Manager Digital at Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, CCO at TUI, and Chief Digital and Information Officer at IndiGo.
Moderating the CIO panel on ‘how are airline CIOs in Asia are prioritising investments as we head further into 2023 to meeting passengers digital demands and deliver on sustainability efforts?’ with Turkish Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Australia
Moderating a panel of Aviation tech Asia innovation going into 2023 – time for a new mindset? With Lufthansa Innovation Hub, Starburst Accelerator, and Singapore Airlines
Moderating a panel on ‘how can we as an industry fully embrace cloud modernization and enterprise transformation to usher in a new era of operational efficiencies, better customer experiences, and actional data insights’ with Bamboo Airways, SpiceJet, ET AL, and SriLankan Airlines.
Interviewing Ayman Aboabah, CEO King Abdulaziz International Airport, exploring the airport’s vision for 2023 and beyond with digital transformation and capacity expansion.
Interviewing Hari Marar, MD and CEO Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru on how the design of T2 reflects the world’s biggest changes as a result of the pandemic.
Moderating the CEO panel on entering Asian airports’ post-pandemic era of unprecedented digital transformation, collaboration, innovation, and reimagined business models with Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru, SITA, and King Abdulaziz International Airport.
If you want to see Henry’s sessions and other unmissable talks, interviews, and panels get your ticket here. To see a previous interview with Henry, click here.
What to expect at Aviation Festival Asia with Mike Arnot
As highlighted by Mike Arnot in this discussion, many players in the APAC region are at the cutting edge of digital marketing and communication with their customers. Considering this, insight from these industry leaders could enrich practices across the globe. Mike Arnot, Principal at Juliett Alpha is involved in several of the marketing strategies & branding sessions taking place at Aviation Festival Asia at the end of the month.
The Juliett Alpha Principal is:
Moderating a CMO panel reconsidering marketing priorities as airlines rescale and emerge as internationally relevant brands. The session includes the CMOs of Saudia, Korean Air, and Virgin Australia as well as the APAC Managing Director for EveryMundo.
Interviewing Amad Luqman Mohd Azmi, Chief Executive Officer Airline Business, Malaysia Airlines about Malaysia Airlines’ outlook on digital marketing for 2023 and beyond.
Moderating a panel on devising digital marketing tactics to create iconic branding which will speak to 2023’s target online audiences. This panel includes the Director of Customer & Brand, HK Express, Chief Executive Officer Airline Business, Malaysia Airlines, Head of Marketing and Communications, Beond, and Digital Manager – Omnichannel Orchestration, Cathay Pacific Airways.
In this short interview, Mike explains his approach to these, detailing what delegates can expect to gain from attending and explaining how he intends to move beyond “Marketing 101” in the sessions.
To see Mike’s sessions and other unmissable talks, interviews, and panels get your ticket here.
Capital A have announced they are replacing their AirAsia Virtual Allstar (AVA) with ‘Ask Bo,’ a new chatbot with enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities (ML).
CEO Capital A, Tony Fernandes said:
“We thank AVA for her achievements in handling more than 113 million guests since 2019, and handling over 43 million queries in 2020 at the peak of Covid. Given the size of the airline that AirAsia is, with thousands of refunds and flight change requests, humans alone cannot cope, we have to also use technology. We learned through AVA how to use artificial intelligence to answer complex and sizable queries better and faster.”
The new chatbot, Ask Bo, has been constructed over the last eight months, learning from previous years what users wants and what their most common requests are.
Kesavan Sivanandam, Chief Airport and Customer Experience Officer, AirAsia Aviation Group highlighted some of the new features of the chatbot. These include live updates on flight status, push notifications for on the day changes of operations, baggage information including tracking, arrival belt, and mishandled baggage report. Furthermore, Ask Bo will give passengers more autonomy helping them to change flights and request refunds and from March, provide access to a human agent.
As AI and ML play an increasingly prominent role in the customer experience aspects of aviation, the technology is continuously being honed and refined. It will be interesting to see how AirAsia customers respond to the new chatbot.
At Aviation Festival Asia 2023, Tony Fernandes will be giving the keynote interview on understanding how and why the airline industry needs to digitally diversify and what AirAsia have in store in 2023.
Technology, retail, and distribution. An interview with Richard Engelmann, Regional Vice President, Asia, Oceania, and India at Japan Airlines
Before Aviation Festival Asia, Richard Engelmann, Regional Vice President, Asia, Oceania, and India at Japan Airlines joined for a conversation around retail, distribution, and the impact of new technology on the industry.
Throughout the interview, Richard shared his personal views on the evolution of airline retail and distribution, drawing on a rich and varied career within the industry. Towards the end, the Regional Vice President also answered some more specific questions on Japan Airlines’ approach to sustainability and growth amongst international travellers.
Commencing with a broad discussion around non-aviation specific technological advancements, Richard discussed the potential these hold for the aviation industry. Ranging from ChatGPT to digital identities, advancements in other sectors are a useful reference point for the aviation industry.
As the conversation moved towards tech developments within airline retail and distribution, Richard raised some nuanced observations concerning culture. Here, drawing on personal experience, the impact of cultural differences on rates of tech adoption and customer expectations were highlighted, providing a subtle balance to the discussion.
In the course of the interview, an array of topics were covering including predictions for the future of distribution, post-pandemic expectations, and customer experience. The entirety of the interview lasts 45-minutes. However, the below index can help to navigate to specific areas of the conversation.
Richard Engelmann’s introduction and background [0.38]
Discussion around ChatGPT and its potential uses in the aviation industry [3:25]
Question: Are there any specific developments in tech and innovation that you are excited to see in airline retailing and distribution? [6:30]
Exploring the cultural nuances of travel [10:45]
Question: Can you highlight some of the ways that technological innovation is already improving experiences for customers in the retail space? [13:30]
Discussion surrounding the adoption of technology and how it is received [16:10]
Question: Is there a pattern to how we have seen distribution evolve over the last five years? [19:25]
Question: How do you expect to se distribution advance in the future? [21:50]
Question: How have you seen customer demands and expectations shift since the pandemic? [27:45]
Question: Does technology play a role in meeting post-pandemic expectations? [31:50]
Question: Could you give me an overview of how you make Japan Airlines attractive to international travellers? [33:20]
Question: Would you be able to talk a bit about sustainability and Japan Airlines? [36:35]
Japan Airlines’ sustainable charter flight [40:05]
Question: Why are you joining us at Aviation Festival Asia? [42:10]
Richard Engelmann will be joining us on the retail track at Aviation Festival Asia on 28 February to talk about these topics and more. The interview will cover, ‘Exploring the evolution of digitalised airline distribution’ and Richard will also sit on a panel discussing ‘Developing strategies which optimise the use of existing technologies within distribution systems.’ To hear these session and a diverse range of opinions from other key industry players, book your ticket here.
Saudia’s digital system linking flight tickets to transit visas
Saudi Arabia’s national flag carrier, Saudia has plans to launch a ‘Your Ticket Your Visa’ digital integration system. The service allows passengers to stay in the country for up to four days with a complementary digital visa linked to a flight ticket.
How it works
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs links a transit visa to the flight ticket in approximately three minutes through an integration with the airline’s booking platform. The system prioritises the ease and convenience of passengers and can be accessed through Saudia’s website and smart applications. It is a “first-of-its-kind” service and helps to support the 2030 Vision, positioning Saudi Arabia as a hub connecting East to West.
“The launch of this innovative and seamless stopover visa is the first-of-its-kind in the aviation industry and a significant milestone in our digital transformation program. It is a testament to Saudia’s commitment to supporting the Kingdom’s strategic goal of reaching 100 million visits by 2030 and we are confident it will positively impact the growing number of transit passengers while enhancing our position as a hub that connects east and west. The new service will also encourage passengers to perform Umrah, visit key destinations and attend events and Saudi seasons.”
The service contributes to Saudi Arabia’s broader 2030 Vision which repositions Saudi Arabia as a tourism destination. As part of this, the aviation capacity is being grown in the region and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah is being promoted.
To watch an exclusive interview with Mr Ayman Aboabah, CEO Jeddah Airports click here.
The CMO and CCO of Saudia will both be speaking at Aviation Festival Asia to hear what they and other experts in the region have to say, get your ticket here. The event runs 28 February to 1 March 2023.
An ambitious future for Jeddah Airport. Interview with Mr Ayman Aboabah, CEO Jeddah Airports Company
Mr Ayman Aboabah, CEO Jeddah Airports Company provided insight into the rich passenger experience at King Abdulaziz International airport (Jeddah Airport). With added responsibility as the gateway for pilgrims to the Holy Mosques (Hajj and Umrah), Jeddah Airport plays an important role in shaping the passenger journey.
As described by Mr Ayman, Jeddah Airport has developed the experience they provide passengers. Recognising these efforts, last month a report by the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) placed Jeddah Airport top of the list of international airports for overall performance in Saudi Arabia. GACA’s monthly report evaluates the country’s airports’ commitment to improving their passenger experience and services. This is judged on fourteen performance criteria including time spent in travel procedures, passports, customs areas, and disability services.
Jeddah Airport has been integrating a wealth of innovative technologies to ensure a unique travel experience for passengers whilst ensuring safe, secure, and efficient operations. These will be scaled up with the airport’s ambitious goal of catering up to 300 per-cent more passengers in the airport before the end of 2030. For more insight into the role of technology, future plans for the airport, and potential challenges in the region, watch the concise interview below.
How do you offer a premium experience to all passengers going to Jeddah Airport?
Can you tell me about any upcoming opportunities for the airport?
Could you name some challenges that Asia’s airport CEO’s might face at the moment?
Does technology play a significant role in the passenger experience at Jeddah Airport?
What are your ambitions for Jeddah Airport in the coming year?
Mr Ayman Aboabah will be delivering the Keynote interview on ‘Exploring King Abdulaziz International Airport’s vision for 2023 and beyond with digital transformation and capacity expansion.’ Additionally, Mr Ayman will be on the Keynote CEO panel discussing ‘Entering Asian airports’ post-pandemic era of unprecedented digital transformation, collaboration, innovation, and reimagined business models.’ Get your tickets here.