United Airlines and Archer Aviation announce first commercial electric air taxi route
Yesterday, Archer Aviation and United Airlines announced their plans to launch the first air taxi route in Chicago, between O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Vertiport Chicago from 2025. Archer design and develop electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for use in urban air mobility networks. For more information on the history of the start-up’s ties with the airline giant read here.
The pair and seeking to provide a “safe, sustainable, low noise, and cost-competitive alternative to ground transportation.” The initial point to point route using Archer’s eVTOL aircraft will reduce the journey from O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Vertiport Chicago to ten minutes, down from over one hour at rush hour.
Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures said:
“Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonising air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry […] Once operational, we’re excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient, and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport.”
Governon JB Pritzker highlighted the sustainability potential from the partnership:
“Here in Illinois, we are taking bold steps to lead the clean revolution – paving the way for a more sustainable future for our state, our nation, and our world […] I can’t think of a better team than Archer and United to partner with as we work to ensure our existing aviation infrastructure can support this new and exciting form of transportation. This partnership is just another way that we will achieve our goal of transitioning to 100 per cent clean energy by 2050 – all while saving Illinoisans money and creating thousands of good paying jobs in the process.”
According to the press release, Archer and United’s early launch routes will focus on airport to city centre transportation aka. “trunk” routes before expanding to “branch” routes connecting the surrounding communities.
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?
Interview with Andreas Slettvoll, CEO CHOOOSE – Sustainability and regional trends
At Aviation Festival Asia 28th February – 1 March 2023, Andreas Slettvoll, CEO CHOOOSE discussed some of the climate-focused tech company’s recent partnerships, explored sustainability trends in the APAC region, and explained the dynamics between carbon capture and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), all in this five-minute interview.
From the geographical nuances of sustainability to the dynamics of corporate travel emissions, this brief interview gives a useful insight into the factors at play in reducing aviation emissions.
Could you tell us a bit about your partnership with JetBlue and what is happening here?
Could you explain your partnership with SAP and how the client app will help corporate travellers reduce their emissions?
What trends are you seeing in the APAC region with regards to discussions around sustainability?
Could you explain a bit about carbon capture’s relationship to SAF?
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.
Interview with Dr. Kerem Kızıltunç, CIO Turkish Airlines – Technology and the aviation industry
This 15-minute interview with Dr. Kerem Kızıltunç, CIO Turkish Airlines and General Manager of Turkish Airlines Technology, covers a wide range of topics varying from the most promising use cases of generative AI to the redesigning of Turkish Airlines’ tech infrastructure to support digital transformation.
Towards the end of the conversation, the CIO selected several of the top technology trends he foresees having the greatest impact on the industry in the coming few years highlighting payments, AI, connectivity, mobile, and more as areas to watch in the near future.
Could you pick out the three most important investments to prioritise this year?
How are you redesigning your tech infrastructure to support Turkish Airlines’ digital transformation?
Can you outline some of the most exciting use cases of generative AI like ChatGPT across the industry?
How are Turkish Airlines transforming their retail offering?
Can you identify the top technology trends that you think will make the biggest impact on the industry within the next three years?
“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?
SITA and Lufthansa address the industry’s $2.2 billion pain point with the automation of reflighting of baggage
Mishandled baggage causes huge inconvenience for passengers, tainting their perception of the journey and causing unnecessary stress. It is also detrimental to the aviation industry more broadly, costing $2.2 billion in 2022 with over 4 million bags mishandled during transfer.
According to a recent press release, SITA estimates that widespread automation of reflighting baggage could save the industry $30 million a year. On 15th March, the IT provider and Lufthansa announced they are pairing up to address this industry pain point by automating bag reflight operations.
Sergio Colella, SITA President for Europe said:
“SITA’s automated baggage reflighting solution is built on the back of past successful co-innovations with Lufthansa and meets a critical industry baggage management requirement as we see the return to the skies. Our aim to make sure that when a bag is mishandled, it is reunited with its owner as soon and simply as possible.”
SITA’s WorldTracer Auto Reflight digitises the process of reflighting baggage, reducing the need for human intervention and minimizing cost on the operations side. It automatically suggests suitable flight routing for the bags and the original bag tag is used, updating the baggage system with the new bag routing. Also addressing the passenger experience aspect, the solution proactively notifies passengers of any delay with their baggage and collects delivery details allowing passengers to bypass the baggage hall entirely.
The solution uses automation to address operational costs as well as the passenger experience, transforming this costly industry pain point.
United Airlines invests $5 million in algae biofuel company. Which SAF problem does this address?
United Airlines has made a $5 million investment in Viridos, a leading algae biofuel company working to produce sustainable, low-carbon, algae-based jet fuel at a commercially deployable level. Compared to traditional jet fuel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced from Viridos algae oil is expected to have a reduced carbon footprint of 70 per cent making it an effective, more environmentally conscious alternative.
The investment was made by the United Airlines Ventures (UAV) Sustainable Flight Fund whose President, Mike Leskinen, said:
“SAF is proven, scalable, and the best tool we have to reduce our carbon emissions from flying, but we face a significant shortage of available feedstock […] Viridos’ algae-based biofuel technology has the potential to help solve our supply problem without the need for farmland or other agricultural resources and marks our inaugural investment in our new cross-industry UAV Sustainable Flight Fund.”
Here, the UAV President outlines a potential paradox between SAF feedstock and environmental priorities.
As aviation attempts to mediate its impact on the planet, availability of SAF becomes crucial. IATA estimates that SAF could contribute to 65 per cent of the reduction in emissions needed to reach net-zero by 2050. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition aims for the industry to run on 10 per cent SAF by 2030, up from 0.1 per cent in 2021. To meet these demands, there must be a significant increase in production. However, it is important this rapid scaling up does not have a detrimental knock on effect at feedstock level.
Currently, a few of the key resources used to produce SAF are used cooking oil, municipal waste, and waste animal fat. As noted by BloombergNEF, “about 6 million metric tons of used cooking oil and 27 million metric tons of animal fats are traded globally every year, which would cover only around 5 per cent of jet fuel consumption.” To meet the quantities required for the industry to significantly reduce its impact, considerably more feedstock will be required. However, as quoted in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal:
“You can’t just increase everybody’s consumption of french fries because we decided we need to double the amount of used cooking oil.” – BloombergNEF’s Ms. Davies
As SAF plays a substantial role in the industry’s reduction of its environmental impact, the origins of the feedstock must be kept in mind.
Discussing their process, Oliver Fetzer, CEO of Viridos said:
“By establishing production sites to grow Viridos-engineered microalgae in saltwater, we are creating the foundation for a biofuel future that moves away from fossil fuels without competing for precious resources such as fresh water and arable land.”
Viridos algae is grown in vessels containing seawater, allowing “contained deployment in hot and dry locations without taxing scarce freshwater and arable land resources, while eliminating runoff.” The algae also has high surface area oil productivities allowing for a high output in comparatively small areas. Moreover, through bioengineering microalgae, oil productivity compared to wild algae can be improved seven fold making it efficient.
As demand for SAF rises, it is crucial that the nuances around the feedstocks used are kept in mind.
Emirates airlines introduce a check-in robot announcing “we’ll be taking it to a step higher”
Last week, Emirates airlines, one of two flag carriers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it is set to introduce over 200 multilingual robots to improve check-in services for their passengers. These check-in robots are AI-enabled and will help the airline to efficiently process high levels of passengers, avoiding bottlenecks at the airport with the user-friendly, guided machines.
Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer said:
“We are the first airline globally that has introduced or plans to introduce portable check-in robotics. We will be the first one to use a robot that can complete all check-in processes, including issuing a boarding pass that will be sent to your registered number or email, and facial recognition by scanning your passport. […] You will go through the passport control and then go through the gates or the lounges without having to show you documentation again.”
Emirates’ check-in robot on display at the airline’s aviation innovation event ForsaTEK. Image credit: Deena Kamel / The National
Offering assistance in a minimum of six different languages, the technology is just one product of Emirates’ investment in tech and innovation. This AI-enabled technology will facilitate a seamless experience for passengers, but this is only the beginning.
Emirates’ COO explained:
“We will be improving it and taking it to a higher level where it will be able to link with immigration to establish whether you have the right permission to enter the country, whether you have got the right visa, give you a hotel booking confirmation, or book a hotel.”
Rolling out initially at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport, the first robots will be seen in the next few months and will increase in number over the coming years.
The challenges generative AI poses for the industry
Generative AI, “artificial intelligence that can generate novel content, rather than simply analysing or acting on existing data” has caught the world’s attention in recent months. Open AI‘s state-of-the-art language processing AI model, ChatGPT, sparked widespread discussion of the technology’s potential, but what are the challenges that come with generative AI? Below is a conversation with ChatGPT, exploring the difficulties that the technology poses with regards to the aviation industry.
Q: How will generative AI impact the aviation industry?
A: Generative AI, which is a subset of artificial intelligence that involves using algorithms to generate new data, has the potential to impact the aviation industry in several ways. Here are a few examples:
Improved aircraft design: Generative AI can be used to generate and evaluate new aircraft designs. By analyzing data on aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, and other factors, generative AI can help engineers design aircraft that are more efficient, safer, and easier to maintain.
Predictive maintenance: Airlines can use generative AI to analyze data from sensors on aircraft to predict when components will fail. This can help airlines avoid costly unscheduled maintenance and reduce downtime for aircraft.
Air traffic control: Generative AI can be used to analyze and optimize air traffic control systems, helping to reduce congestion and improve safety.
Pilot training: Generative AI can be used to simulate a wide range of flight conditions, allowing pilots to train in a safe and controlled environment. This can help to improve pilot skills and reduce the risk of accidents.
Overall, generative AI has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency, safety, and profitability of the aviation industry. However, it is important to carefully consider the potential risks and ethical implications of using these technologies, particularly when it comes to issues such as privacy, data security, and job displacement.
Q: What would you say the challenges are of integrating generative AI to the aviation industry?
A: While there are many potential benefits of integrating generative AI into the aviation industry, there are also several challenges that need to be considered. Here are a few examples:
Data quality: Generative AI relies on large amounts of high-quality data to generate accurate results. In the aviation industry, obtaining this data can be challenging due to factors such as data privacy concerns and the complexity of aircraft systems.
Safety and regulation: Safety is a critical concern in the aviation industry, and any new technology must be thoroughly tested and validated before it can be integrated into operational systems. In addition, regulatory agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must approve any new technology before it can be used in commercial aviation.
Integration with existing systems: Generative AI systems must be integrated with existing aviation systems, such as air traffic control and aircraft maintenance systems. This can be challenging due to the complexity of these systems and the need to ensure that the new technology does not disrupt existing operations.
Ethical concerns: The use of generative AI raises ethical concerns related to issues such as data privacy, bias, and job displacement. For example, the use of AI in pilot training could potentially reduce the need for human pilots, leading to job losses in the industry.
Q: Could you please elaborate on the challenges of integrating generative AI with existing systems?
A: Integrating generative AI with existing aviation systems can be a complex and challenging task. Here are some specific challenges that need to be addressed:
Compatibility: Generative AI systems must be compatible with existing aviation systems, such as air traffic control and aircraft maintenance systems. This requires ensuring that the data formats, communication protocols, and interfaces used by the new system are compatible with the existing systems.
Complexity: Aviation systems are highly complex and often involve multiple interconnected systems that must work together seamlessly. Any new technology must be able to integrate with these systems without disrupting existing operations or compromising safety.
Security: Aviation systems are also highly sensitive and require robust security measures to protect against cyber threats. Any new technology must be designed with security in mind and must be able to integrate with existing security measures to ensure that sensitive data is protected.
Reliability: The aviation industry has very high standards for reliability, and any new technology must meet these standards. Generative AI systems must be thoroughly tested and validated to ensure that they can operate reliably in a real-world aviation environment.
Training: Integrating generative AI with existing aviation systems also requires training personnel to use the new technology effectively. This requires developing training programs and materials that can effectively teach personnel how to use the new technology.
Overall, integrating generative AI with existing aviation systems is a complex task that requires careful consideration of a range of factors. This requires collaboration between stakeholders in the aviation industry, including regulators, airlines, and technology providers, to ensure that the technology is developed and implemented in a safe, responsible, and effective manner.
Q: Can you give more detail on the ethical concerns of generative AI?
A: Generative AI raises several ethical concerns that must be carefully considered before integrating the technology into the aviation industry. Here are some specific ethical concerns:
Data privacy: Generative AI relies on large amounts of data to generate accurate results, and this data may include sensitive information such as personal information about passengers or flight crew. There is a risk that this data could be misused or mishandled, potentially leading to privacy violations.
Bias: Generative AI systems may be biased if they are trained on data that is not representative of the entire population. This could lead to unfair or discriminatory outcomes, particularly when it comes to issues such as hiring or resource allocation.
Job displacement: The use of generative AI in the aviation industry could potentially lead to job displacement, particularly in areas such as pilot training or aircraft maintenance. This could have a significant impact on workers and communities, particularly if there are no alternative job opportunities available.
Accountability: Generative AI systems are often opaque and difficult to understand, making it challenging to assign responsibility when something goes wrong. This raises questions about accountability and the ability to hold individuals or organizations responsible for the outcomes of AI-generated decisions.
Safety: The use of generative AI in safety-critical systems, such as aircraft design or air traffic control, raises concerns about the safety of these systems. There is a risk that errors or biases in the AI system could lead to accidents or other safety incidents.
Overall, the ethical concerns of generative AI must be carefully considered and addressed before integrating the technology into the aviation industry. This requires collaboration between stakeholders in the aviation industry, including regulators, airlines, and technology providers, to ensure that the technology is developed and implemented in a safe, responsible, and ethical manner.
Q: Overall, do you think generative AI’s contribution to the aviation industry would outweigh the challenges?
A: Generative AI has the potential to bring significant benefits to the aviation industry, such as improved safety, increased efficiency, and cost savings. However, integrating generative AI into the aviation industry also poses several challenges, such as data quality, safety and regulation, integration with existing systems, and ethical concerns.
Ultimately, the success of generative AI in the aviation industry will depend on how effectively these challenges are addressed. While some challenges may be difficult to overcome, with careful planning, collaboration, and investment, many of these challenges can be mitigated or overcome.
Therefore, whether generative AI’s contribution to the aviation industry outweighs the challenges will depend on the specific applications and contexts in which the technology is used, as well as the effectiveness of the measures taken to address the challenges. If the benefits of using generative AI in aviation are significant enough and the technology is implemented in a safe, responsible, and ethical manner, then the contribution of generative AI to the aviation industry could outweigh the challenges.
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.
Changi Airport looks to bridge manpower gap with autonomous vehicles
During the pandemic, the aviation industry lost 2.3 million jobs globally. As the world returns to travel there have been staff shortages worldwide, impacting the service that the sector can offer.
In a recent press release, Changi Airport discussed their experience of manpower shortages which were particularly notable for roles in the airside which the airport believed “if left unaddressed [would] pose a huge constraint for the future of Terminal 5’s operations.”
Ultimately, the airport group envisions a future where:
“A combination of multi-skilled airside workers will be augmented by different types of autonomous vehicles to deliver seamless operations.”
Building towards this goal, Changi Airport Group signed a formal partnership agreement with Aurrigo International plc, a leading provider of airport transport technology, for the continued joint development and testing of the company’s autonomous vehicles.
Identifying the driving of baggage tractors as requiring the highest number of drivers in airside operations, the airport has been exploring the automation of these processes since February 2022.
The multi year partnership builds on existing trials of an autonomous individual baggage trailer, Auto-Dolly, as well as the Auto-Dolly Tug, capable of towing three additional trailers, driving the next phase of development.
As technology progresses, it can automate more processes, bridging the gaps that staff shortages present, and facilitating the redistribution of the work force to optimise overall operations.
On Tuesday, a panel of industry experts will discuss the role of digital transformation in ramping up airport operations in Asia’s post-pandemic recovery era. Get your ticket here.
Seamless Air Alliance and GSMA collaborate to “bring mobile roaming to the skies”
This week, it was announced that the Seamless Air Alliance and the GSMA are collaborating to “accelerate the availability of seamless mobile roaming onboard commercial airlines.”
The cooperation between the pair represents a significant step in the journey towards a smooth connectivity experience for passengers, bridging the gap between data roaming in the air and on the ground.
The Seamless Air Alliance was founded by Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint, and Airtel and drives the development and implementation of Global Standards for Inflight Connectivity. Collaborating with the GSMA, a global organisation unifying the world’s mobile ecosystem, has potential to significantly accelerate the accessibility of seamless mobile roaming onboard commercial airlines.
In the press release, Jack Mandala, CEO of the Seamless Air Alliance said:
“Working with the GSMA positions us in front of over 750 mobile network operators and other service providers, paving the way to open dialogue and cooperation in bringing roaming services to airlines worldwide. The agreement with the GSMA is a ringing validation of our goal to bring seamless connectivity to airlines and their passengers.”
Adding to this, Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA said:
“We’ve come a long way since the first SMS was sent in 1992, but even now there is no guarantee that airline passengers can connect with their contacts on the ground during a flight. Our collaboration with the Seamless Air Alliance will facilitate and accelerate agreements between airlines and MNOs around their own route network to improve connectivity. We are excited to work with members of the Seamless Air Alliance to bring mobile roaming to the skies and deliver the best possible customer experience for airline passengers”
Working together, the pair are aiming to create a scalable framework for establishing commercial roaming agreements between respective members and bring roaming to the world’s airlines.
Takeoff with AI: Five Reasons the Airline Industry Should Embrace AI
Technology is revolutionizing the way that businesses interact with customers, streamlining operations and uncovering new opportunities for growth. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry, allowing businesses to take advantage of a range of benefits that enable them to stay competitive and profitable. By leveraging the power of AI, businesses can gain a competitive edge in the airline industry and identify new opportunities for success.
Here are the top five reasons to use AI in the airline industry:
1. Optimized Operations
Airline companies can optimize network planning, adjust flight schedules, and manage aircraft capacity to maximize efficiency and reduce costs using AI. This can help airlines to better manage fuel consumption and emissions. AI can also be used to automate routine tasks and processes, allowing airlines to focus on more important tasks.
2. Improved Customer Service
AI can provide personalized service to customers, such as recommending travel itineraries and providing real-time information about flight status and delays. AI chatbots can also be used to answer customer queries and resolve issues quickly and efficiently. This can help improve the overall customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.
3. Revenue Optimization
Gathering detailed insights on customer demand is an essential prerequisite to optimize the revenues and margins of the overall network of any airline. As such, solutions that harness the power of AI are a clear competitive advantage for airlines – under the right conditions, they can bring highly accurate forecast capabilities that can be leveraged to make better informed decisions, and ultimately have direct impact on the bottom line both from a revenue and cost perspective.
4. Cost Savings
By leveraging AI-driven automation, airlines can reduce operational costs and increase operational efficiency, leading to a substantial increase in profitability and market competitiveness.
For instance, airlines can automate their inventory management, pricing, and revenue management processes to optimize their operations and reduce the risk of overbooking, which has a high cost per offloaded passenger, not to mention a very poor customer experience. AI algorithms can analyze historical data and current market trends to make real-time pricing decisions, thus reducing manual labor and human errors. This can also lead to increased sales and revenue uplift.
In addition, AI-powered predictive maintenance can help airlines identify potential aircraft malfunctions before they occur, leading to fewer flight cancellations and maintenance costs. AI can also streamline operations, such as baggage handling and check-in, leading to a reduction in staff and labor costs.
By embracing AI, airlines can unlock significant cost savings and gain a competitive edge in the market, making it a worthwhile investment for any airline looking to stay ahead in the industry.
5. Increased Scalability
AI can help airlines scale up their operations quickly and efficiently. This technology can be used to automate customer service inquiries and other processes, streamlining workflow and allowing airlines to focus on more important tasks. Additionally, AI can be used to provide predictive analytics and insights that can help airlines identify potential opportunities and make decisions more quickly and accurately. With the help of AI, airlines can stay ahead of the competition and be up-to-date with the latest trends.
AI has the potential to revolutionize the airline industry. By automating routine tasks, making better decisions, improving customer experience, and optimizing maintenance, AI can help airline companies become more efficient, cost-effective, and competitive.
Three start-ups to look out for at Aviation Festival Asia: Optimisation through advanced technology
Aviation Festival Asia gathers together industry giants, start-ups, and everyone in between to drive innovation in the aviation industry. The event is an opportunity for start-ups to get noticed and for influential industry players to forge business partnerships in the Asia Region.
Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and software solutions play a significant role in optimising operations throughout the aviation industry. With these, costs can be reduced and outcomes maximised. Here are three start-ups, facilitating optimisation within the industry.
Optimal solutions for a world in motion. Motulus provides business software solutions that specialize in optimizing crew and aircraft. Such software is critical to run large-scale, daily operations in a cost-efficient and productive way maximizing crew satisfaction, reducing operational disruption and minimizing the environmental impact. The solution leads to significant cost savings, week after week. Motulus software streamlines and accelerates the workflow to design, plan and operate these logistic operations and provides in-depth analytical insights. Motulus.aero was formed in 2018 by a group of mathematical experts who specialize in building solutions deploying the latest scientific and software developments.
Speedcargo Technologies brings innovative solutions that use computer vision technologies, advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence to transform the air cargo operations of Airlines and Ground Handlers. The technology was developed from research undertaken at Technical University of Munich (TUM) – CREATE in response to an industry requirement initiated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). We developed, tested and deployed the technology in live operations and demonstrated the world’s first fully automated, robot-packed cargo pallet. In 2020, SPEEDCARGO Technologies Pte Ltd. incorporated as a Singapore-based deep-tech startup and launched products for digitization and optimization as crucial first steps towards automation.
3. Synaptic Aviation
Synaptic Aviation at Work. We provide unprecedented visibility into ground operations; avoid delays, lower injuries, minimize damages, and operate at your best. With the help of artificial intelligence you gain control of turnaround activities to prevent avoidable service failures and become predictive over time.
These three start ups will be at Aviation Festival Asia at the end of the month. To find out more about these and many other start-ups, get your ticket here.
Perth Airport set to open a virtual reality lounge
This May, Perth Airport will be introducing a Gaming Point VR lounge delivered by Travel Point Group. The lounge will transform the waiting process with access to a hi-tech, VR gaming experience. Located at Terminal 1 International before customs and security screening, the lounge will be accessible to all domestic and international passengers as well as the general public.
Unusually, the lounge will include one immersive VR escape room for up to five players per session, with each session lasting 30-45 minutes. Additionally, people can choose from a range of individual high-speed internet gaming stations linked to the steam network allowing players to continue on from their own accounts or enjoy solo gaming options as newcomers.
Growing rapidly, the VR market generated 4.7 billion USD in 2022 and, according to Deloitte research, will generate an estimated 7 billion USD by the end of 2023. The technology already has multiple existing applications within the aviation industry ranging from entertainment to teaching. However, it remains “relatively niche” amongst the general population for the time being, with an active installed base of just 22 million in 2023. This novelty is partly where the airport VR experience can tap in to this growth area, offering people a new experience in an unexpected setting.
Looking towards the future, Graeme Stewart, Director of Point Group said:
“Point Group is in advanced discussions with many major airports around the globe to deliver exciting new experiential offers using virtual reality and high-speed gaming facilities.”
Wanting to create new experiences in airports that move beyond eating, drinking, and shopping, Gaming Point began as an ambitious step to introduce VR gaming into an airport setting. By May, the lounge will offer a innovative, collaborative experience for passengers, whilst simultaneously diversifying the retail offering at Perth Airport.
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.
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.