The world’s most pioneering airlines and airports in 2023 – shortlists announced for FTE Pioneer Awards

The shortlists for the FTE Airline and Airport Pioneer Awards 2023 have been unveiled. Three airlines and three airports will be crowned the winners for their outstanding efforts to transform the passenger experience and define the future of the industry by innovating in areas such as Metaverse and Mixed Reality through to biometrics, robotics, sustainability and much more. The presentation ceremony will take place during the FTE Global 2023 Networking Party hosted by Los Angeles World Airports on Tuesday 19 September, with the FTE Global Awards sponsored by Smithgroup, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and HNTB.

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FTE Airline Pioneer Awards 2023 nominees:

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is nominated for blazing a path into a brand-new lobby experience, as it says goodbye to kiosks and hello to a mobile-first strategy that transforms how passengers interact with the airline pre-security. The goal of the transformation is to reduce crowding, confusion, and stress on the day of travel and deliver a lobby experience of five minutes or less. This transformation is driven by three key changes:

  • Introducing a new iPad-based bag tag printing solution that reduces transaction time to under a minute.
  • Moving away from traditional kiosks and paper boarding pass printing, resulting in a bag drop experience that is far quicker.
  • Mobilising Alaska agents in the lobby with the tools they need to assist passengers with questions where they are, solve problems, and greatly reduce lines.

In its upgraded airports, Alaska is seeing an average of 80% of travellers generating their own boarding passes, alongside a 5-10% increase in bag tag printing on the new bag tag station compared to previous kiosk use.

Amber Simonsen, Director, Airport Lobby Transformation, Alaska Airlines, will share more on “How dynamic new approaches are driving a sub 5-minute lobby experience across Alaska Airlines’ airport network for its passengers” in the Future Airports conference track at FTE Global.

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Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is shortlisted for a range of pioneering initiatives, including the announcement of a “first-of-its-kind” aircraft seat that allows travellers who use a powered wheelchair to remain in their own wheelchairs for the entire journey, enhancing accessibility and facilitating a more seamless boarding and disembarking experience.

Delta has also become the first major network airline to introduce free high-speed Wi-Fi for all passengers as a core element of its customer experience. The strategy is to deliver more personalised travel, with “an experience at 30,000 feet that feels similar to what customers have available on the ground”.

Building on the personalisation element, the airline recently launched ‘Delta Sync Exclusives’ – a first-of-its-kind platform to curate the onboard experience for passengers with exclusive content, access and offers. Allied to that is evolution of the SkyMiles loyalty programme, with the launch of new partnerships with brands such as Starbucks to provide customers with more rewards.

Delta has also deepened its commitment to transforming the future of travel by embarking on a multi-year, multi-market commercial and operational partnership with Joby Aviation to deliver transformational, sustainable home-to-airport eVTOL transportation service to Delta customers, beginning in New York and Los Angeles.

Hear more from Delta Air Lines at FTE Global, where Cesar Mateus, Managing Director, Digital Portfolio Office, and Ravi Vanmali, Managing Director, Operations Strategy, Data, & Implementation, will share insights into “Elevating Customer & Employee Experience by Working Cross-Enterprise”. Greg Forbes, Managing Director Airport Experience, Delta Air Lines, is also speaking in the Future Airports conference track.

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Lufthansa is nominated for taking personalisation to a new level with the launch of Allegris – its new long-haul travel experience. The guiding principles in the development of Lufthansa Allegris were ‘choice’ and ‘simplicity’. At its heart, it is about individualising travel and doing so in a way that is simple for customers. With more than 100 new aircraft that will be equipped, new options on ground services, as well as an improved, simplified flow to select seats in all booking channels, Allegris will offer a truly premium, innovative and thought-through product that offers individual choices to customers in all travel classes. The individuality comes in passengers’ ability to create their own travel experience according to their personal needs, with choices in seats, meals and other elements of the journey. Indeed, the Lufthansa Allegris offer features seven kinds of seat, including Classic Seat, Extra Long Bed, Extra Space Seat, Privacy Seat, Private Seat with Baby Bassinet, Double Seat, and Business Suites.

Lufthansa is also recognised for its innovative use of the Metaverse and Mixed Reality in the launch of Allegris, in what is the biggest use of the technology in the industry to-date. The Allegris launch blended the physical and digital, with the airline’s new Metaverse event location having a key role.

Allegris will be introduced on the Boeing 787-9 by the end of 2023, while the Airbus A350-900 will be the first to introduce the new First Class in early 2024.

FTE Global attendees will hear more on how Lufthansa is leveraging the Metaverse with Mixed Reality to champion new product offerings. Dr. Björn Becker, Head of Future Intercontinental Experience Program, Lufthansa, will deliver a case study alongside Bastian Schütz, Product & Business Development, Meta Reality Labs, in the Metaverse, NFT & Crypto Symposium. There will also be dedicated space in the exhibition at FTE Global where attendees can take a VR headset, enter Lufthansa’s Metaverse event location or the Mixed Reality full-scale model of the cabin, and experience Allegris for themselves.

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Qantas makes the shortlist for its exciting plans for the ‘Project Sunrise’ cabin. The recently-unveiled cabin of its specially-designed Airbus A350s, which will fly direct on ultra-long-haul routes from Sydney to New York and London from late-2025, includes a unique dedicated Wellbeing Zone. Work on the cabin design began in 2019 and took tens of thousands of hours to create Qantas’ “intuitive A350 cabin of the future”.

Indeed, Qantas will be the first airline in the world to offer a purpose-built Wellbeing Zone located between the Premium Economy and Economy cabins, featuring sculpted wall panels and integrated stretch handles, guided on-screen exercise programme, a hydration station and a range of refreshments.

With the new ‘Project Sunrise’ flights, Qantas has taken the opportunity to re-think long-haul travel in its entirety, from aircraft cabin design to what ingredients are included on the inflight menu, all with a firm focus on “wellbeing” and connectivity, including fast and free WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity across all cabins.

United Airlines

United Airlines is nominated for its commitment to providing unique services to customers. The airline has developed its own kiosks in a two-year collaborative project with imageHOLDERS, in a great example of mass personalisation at scale. The future-proof kiosks provide a compelling, user-centric solution.

Unique initiatives also include becoming the first U.S. airline to support ‘Live Activities’ for iPhone, giving customers real-time access to their boarding pass, gate and seat number, and countdown clock to departure time on their lock screen or while unlocked in the ‘Dynamic Island’, all without opening the United app. Another customer-centric initiative has seen United become the first U.S. airline to add Braille to aircraft interiors, helping travellers with visual disabilities more easily navigate the cabin independently.

United is also nominated for its pioneering, collaborative approach to sustainability. The United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund – a way for companies and consumers to come together and increase the supply of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) through the support of startups – has increased its investment power to nearly $200 million and added eight new corporate partners, just five months after its initial launch.

Meanwhile, United Airlines – alongside Eve Air Mobility – has announced plans to bring Urban Air Mobility to San Francisco by launching electric commuter flights throughout the Bay Area. It believes Urban Air Mobility “has the potential to revolutionise how United customers work, live, and travel” and has a conditional purchase agreement for 200 eVTOLs plus 200 options, as part of its strategy to invest in cutting-edge technologies.

Hear more from United Airlines at FTE Global. Kristen Berndt, Senior Manager, Baggage Strategy & Innovation, United Airlines, is speaking in a session focused on “The role of innovation: How can air transport go to the next level, and learn from other industries?” Meanwhile, Devon Heyns, Director – Customer Innovation & Solutions, United Airlines, is participating in the FTE Biometrics & Digital Identity Summit.

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Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is shortlisted for its approach to ultra-long-haul travel, with “a commitment to innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible”. The airline expects its Skynest – the world’s first sleep pods in the sky – to be a real game-changer, adding more flexibility to the economy travel experience when they launch on the Auckland-New York and Auckland-Chicago routes.

Skynest will be a six-pod configured sleep zone that offers sessions for economy passengers to lie down when travelling long haul. It will be available from September 2024. Each pod will include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, a separate reading light, personal device USB outlet, ventilation outlet, and lighting designed for rest.

“We’re proud to be leading the way with this world-first cabin feature,” says the airline. “Our extensive research and design process, which spanned five years and 170,000 hours, has resulted in a product that we’re confident will revolutionise the inflight experience for economy passengers. North America is the perfect market for Skynest, as it has a premium segment that values comfort and sleep during long-haul travel.”

Air New Zealand is also recognised for Mission Next Gen – its initiative to accelerate the development and introduction of zero emissions aircraft technology for the regional fleet in New Zealand by 2030. The airline is working with long-term partners, including Heart Aerospace, Universal Hydrogen, Embraer, Airbus and ATR, to accelerate the development and introduction of zero emissions aircraft technology. Together, they are developing green hydrogen and battery-hybrid aircraft with between 30 and 200 seats.

Nikhil Ravishankar, Chief Digital Officer, Air New Zealand, will share more on the airline’s digital innovations and plans for the future in the Digital & Innovation conference track at FTE Global.

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Emirates has unveiled its latest innovation space, the Innovation Majlis, at its Dubai headquarters. The space is designed to foster collaboration, drive research and development, and exchange cutting-edge ideas within the aviation industry, featuring Emirates’ latest advancements in technology, including robotics, hyper-reality, holograms, sensor tech, and more.

Emirates is also nominated for its commitment to sustainability. The airline has created a US$200 million sustainability fund to research and develop projects focused on reducing the impact of fossil fuels in commercial aviation. It will identify partnerships with leading organisations working on solutions in advanced fuel and energy technologies. Emirates is ring-fencing the US$200 million to invest in advanced fuel and energy solutions for aviation, which is where airlines currently face the biggest impediment in reducing environmental impact. “It’s clear that with the current pathways available to airlines in terms of emissions reduction, our industry won’t be able to hit net zero targets in the prescribed timeline,” says the airline. “We believe our industry needs better solutions, and that’s why we’re looking to partner with leading organisations on R&D. Our aim is to contribute meaningfully to practical solutions for the long-term sustainability of commercial aviation.”

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is shortlisted for its investment in CX, with enhancements to its app and inflight experience. Increased flexibility includes same day self-service standby list in the app, free inflight internet for ‘Business Select’ trips, and easier to use inflight internet sign-in for ‘A-List Preferred’.

Meanwhile, Southwest has selected MOST, a provider of intuitive and customised retail and payment solutions, to power its inflight retail experience. The solution brings together onboard product management, bespoke payment hardware, and efficient payment processing, all customised for the airline, to improve the passenger experience. Integration of a digital shopping cart, payment processing, and onboard product management is easily managed.

Southwest is modernising as part of its current five-year mission, with a key focus also on increasing asset utilisation while speeding up the tempo of the operation. This includes efforts to increase the speed that customers board and exit the aircraft. ‘Passenger (PAX) Movement’ is an innovation initiative that focuses on two of the three key areas for turn improvement: Passenger Movement and Turn Management. The project has multiple pieces that are being deployed to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport across four gates. The goal is to speed up enplaning/deplaning by considering employee and customer behaviours, tools, physical environment and processes.

Hear more from Southwest Airlines at FTE Global. Kevin Kleist, Senior Emerging Trends Advisor, Southwest Airlines, is participating in the Airline Technology Leaders Conversation. Meanwhile, Michelle Buckley, Managing Director, Customer Engagement, Southwest Airlines, is moderating a Jumpseat Debate on “How does our industry really advance its approach to managing disruption situations for the benefit of passengers, and our stakeholders?”

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Startup low-cost airline Bonza is shortlisted for its pioneering app-first approach and digitally-native and customer-centric strategy. Bonza describes itself as “effectively a digital marketplace with wings” and its ambition to be “an all-encompassing travel retail brand that happens to operate aircraft” is a key differentiator. 777 Partners’ (owner of Bonza) travel technology teams work in collaboration with the airline to build a digital platform focused on connecting partners as a central design goal and travel retailing over time.

Bonza is creating innovative digital experiences throughout the customer journey, utilising its app-based approach and underpinned by a next-generation Order Management System to give flexibility and agility. The airline is utilising the Fly Bonza app before travel and inflight to engage with passengers. Before travel, customers can find destination information and over time the airline will integrate inspirational content from tourism boards and influencers. Onboard, the service experience has been reimagined with no traditional trolley service and customers order from the all-Aussie menu through the app and have their purchases delivered directly to their seats.

Korean Air

As national carrier of one of the world’s most digitally connected countries, Korean Air is spearheading its digital transformation journey. Most notably, Korean Air completed the largest IT modernisation project in its 52-year history, becoming the first major carrier to completely switch to Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. The airline is using AWS cloud capabilities to strengthen innovation and improve customer experience. Korean Air upgraded its entire system to incorporate the required cloud technology and data to increase operational efficiency and innovate customer service.

Korean Air is also working towards introducing a Machine Learning management service, which will allow the airline to create, train and apply Machine Learning models to improve customer service by forecasting passenger and cargo demand more accurately. The cloud will also help to enable the airline to better estimate flight delays due to weather conditions and predict aircraft maintenance time. To build a culture of cloud innovation, Korean Air introduced the AWS Innovation Builder Program during its cloud migration to give employees the right skill sets to become data- and customer-centric and create a cloud-first culture.

FTE Airport Pioneer Awards 2023 nominees:

Pittsburgh International Airport

Located in the ‘Robotics Capital of the World’, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is nominated for its pioneering efforts in the robotics space. In April, PIT and International Airlines Group (IAG) launched an innovation partnership that will explore exciting new solutions with the robotics and tech community. The announcement was made ahead of the Aviation & Robotics Summit, which took place in Pittsburgh, delivered by Future Travel Experience, Innovation Works, Pittsburgh Robotics Network and PIT’s xBridge innovation centre.

PIT is also innovating with plans to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) onsite, as part of its commitment to sustainability. The goal is to accelerate the adoption of cleaner fuels and builds on PIT becoming the first airport in the world to be completely powered by natural gas and solar energy as part of its microgrid.

PIT is also recognised for its workforce development strategy, which tackles three major barriers to entry for people entering the workforce – childcare, job training and transportation. The airport recently graduated 12 students from its PIT2Work job training programme – a course design to promote careers in construction and skilled trades by leveraging the airport’s new terminal programme. The airport has also partnered with Pittsburgh Regional Transit to increase bus access and has unveiled a brand-new childcare centre. Providing a childcare option on the same site as an employee’s workplace helps strengthen parents’ work-life balance and supports workforce development. The goal is to break down barriers preventing working parents from starting careers at the airport. PIT considers the new childcare centre a critical piece in the airport’s ongoing workforce development efforts.

Cole Wolfson, Director, xBridge, Pittsburgh International Airport, is speaking in the FTE Robotics & Autonomous Vehicles Symposium at FTE Global, where he will share the key learnings and outcomes from the inaugural Aviation & Robotics Summit, which took place in Pittsburgh in April 2023.

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Aeroporti di Roma

Aeroporti di Roma is shortlisted for its pioneering approach to innovation in three key areas:

  • Launching the groundbreaking ‘Airports for Innovation’ network. Through this initiative, Aeroporti di Roma is fostering a culture of innovation and cooperation across the aviation industry, while promoting the services of startups among the partner airports worldwide. The ultimate aim is to launch the first-ever joint worldwide ‘Call for Ideas’ in the aviation industry. Munich, Vancouver, Dallas Fort Worth, Nice and Athens are among the airports to have already joined the network.
  • The launch of ADR Ventures allows Aeroporti di Roma to actively invest in accelerated startups with transformative potential, propelling technological advancements and fostering cutting-edge solutions. ADR Ventures’ purpose is to realise equity investments in international seed, pre-seed, early-stage startups focused on aviation, travel and sustainability.
  • Aeroporti di Roma has created a dedicated space for startups – its Innovation Hub is a 650sqm physical space inside Terminal 1 at Fiumicino Airport, where startups can design and implement their innovation ideas and services. An innovative company mindset is created through the ADR Innovation Cabin Crew, which is a group of 29 experts of ADR’s business units and controlled companies, who are the direct owners of the know-how for the startups both in terms of mentoring and business effectiveness.

Los Angeles World Airports

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is in the midst of an ambitious $15 billion Capital Improvement Program that is modernising terminals at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and providing an elevated passenger experience, ahead of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The latest phase is the Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) South – an extension of the West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal. In addition to all of the facilities that LAWA is modernising, it is rethinking the entire passenger process. A big part of that is the use of technology and what LAWA calls “a digital marketplace”. The concept behind the digital marketplace is that the customer will have the ability to control their journey even before they arrive at the airport through their mobile devices, incorporating amenities and services in a personalised manner. Passengers will be able to pre-book all aspects of their journey – from parking and food & beverage to virtual queuing at security checkpoints.

Looking ahead, LAWA is about to tender for Terminal 9 at LAX – the next phase of the Capital Improvement Program – which will serve an estimated 7.2 million annual departing passengers. The terminal will become emblematic of LAX because of its prominence at the airport’s new front door, while remaining within LAX’s existing footprint.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is host of FTE Global on 19-21 September 2023. LAWA speakers at the event include Justin Erbacci, CEO; Ian Law, Chief Digital Transformation Officer; Aura Moore, CIO; and Terri Mestas, Chief Development Officer.

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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is nominated for the leadership and agility it is demonstrating in the area of robotics & automation. It recently completed a Proof of Concept (POC) for collaborative robots in baggage handling. This has since been followed up with a decision to purchase 19 COllaborative Baggage RObots (COBROs) to be installed by the end of January 2024 – less than one year after the POC was initiated. This work also involved designing effective and innovative ways for human/robot collaboration.

The robots take over the physically demanding part of baggage handling, the lifting of suitcases, from the employee. Employees in Baggage Hall South, where KLM, Aviapartner and Viggo process the baggage of departing passengers, will work together with the robots.

This has only been possible through the visionary approach of Schiphol in aiming to improve the working conditions for staff and ensure a positive traveller experience. “We expect to put even more of these robots into use at Schiphol in the first half of 2024,” says the airport.

Meanwhile, Schiphol Group has laid out a future-looking vision to create fully autonomous airside operations by 2050. This programme will see all airside vehicles be replaced by an interconnected fleet of autonomous, emission-free vehicles and all associated processes will be automated.

Lennert l’Amie, CIO, Royal Schiphol Group, is speaking in the Future Airports conference track at FTE Global, addressing “How central will technology be to Royal Schiphol Group’s Vision 2050 to create the world’s most sustainable and high-quality airports?” He will also participate in the Airport Technology Leaders Conversation.

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Fraport is shortlisted for the biggest biometrics implementation in the world. From enrolment at a kiosk or counter, to pre-security automated gates and self-boarding gates, passengers can use biometric technology to seamlessly pass through each stage of the journey by simply scanning their face. The project breaks new ground in the development of digital travel by providing a true common-use biometric platform at all terminals, open to all airlines operating at the airport.

The implementation also plays a key part in paving the way for the rollout of biometrics across Star Alliance’s global network, as it endeavours to have more of its 26 member carriers using biometric technology progressively. Key learnings from the Fraport project will be considered for further implementations across the network.

Fraport’s Digital Factory is also key to its innovation efforts, further increasing the level of digital maturity within the Fraport Group and driving forward digital transformation alongside customer processes. The progressive approach of the Digital Factory is to identify market innovations early on and facilitate the implementation of compelling digital solutions for Fraport. Indeed, it is partnering with various startups to launch pilot projects. Digital Factory as a process framework for digitalisation has a proven track record with 35 projects launched, 24 successful Minimum Viable Products (MVP) developed, and 15 projects accompanied into rollout.

Jens Sanner, Program Director for Digital Services and Transformation, Fraport, is speaking in the Future Airports conference track at FTE Global, where he will share details of the compelling business case for Frankfurt Airport to make one of the largest investments in biometrics to-date.

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Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

The Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) region has become a hotbed of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and DFW Airport is embracing this with a progressive approach to AI to streamline the passenger experience. For example, utilising a “Digital Person” product – Digital Iris – built to assist airport visitors at information kiosks, DFW Airport is elevating the customer experience with a completely touchless, voice-controlled AI assistant.

AI is providing the airport with the capabilities needed to deliver more personalised and seamless customer experiences, while enabling employees to focus on complex higher value tasks. The success of the “Digital Person” solution is just one great example of how AI can be applied to set a new standard for travellers and help support airport employees.

DFW Airport is also embracing innovation in areas such as testing autonomous vehicles, as well as increased electrification with projects including a mobile EV chargers programme.

Hear more from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in the Digital & Innovation conference track at FTE Global. Michael Youngs, Vice President Information Technology, is speaking in the FTE Private Networks Symposium. Meanwhile, Paul Puopolo, Executive Vice President of Innovation, is speaking in a session focused on “The role of innovation: How can air transport go to the next level, and learn from other industries?”

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Avinor is shortlisted for improving and developing a next-generation baggage handling system, and an expansive robotics application airside. The system sorts baggage to load cells by batches pulled from a dynamic bag storage. Loading and transportation between the load cells and aircraft is performed by semi and fully automatic loading systems. Transportation is by an automatic logistic system operating autonomous vehicles.

The new system improves traceability, efficiency and capacity for airport, airline and ground handling services. It is currently under construction, with tests so far providing data that demonstrates high efficiency and improved ground handling operations.

Avinor explains that the highest impact will be on reduced cost and improved traceability and efficiency for the airlines. This direction of innovation has brought industry stakeholders together to take responsibility for a common development in a more cost-efficient and improved direction. The full system is set to be operational by Q2 2024.

Idar Sørgjerd, Department Manager, BHS, Tech & Op. Excellence, Avinor, is speaking in the Future Airports conference track at FTE Global in a session focused on “Achieving a revolution in baggage by 2030”.

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Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

The New York airport system is in the midst of an exciting transformation on every level, with technology, innovation and collaboration at the forefront. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is elevating the passenger experience across its airports.

LaGuardia Terminal B, operated by Vantage Airport Group, is an example of how the collaborative approach taken by PANYNJ is driving transformation of the customer experience from curb to gate. The Port Authority has worked with Vantage on technologies including managing taxis and app-based rides and a cutting-edge digital concierge.

Similarly, technologies and concepts, such as “the digital journey of surprises”, are elevating the passenger experience in Newark’s new Terminal A, operated by Munich Airport NJ LLC. This is replete with technology innovations, including a biometrics programme, iconic digital signage, the ‘Forest of Firsts’ digital art installation, the virtual apron control room, the latest CT scanning technology at the security checkpoint, electronic ground service equipment charging devices throughout the terminal, and more.

In February, ground-breaking took place on the final phase of the JFK Airport transformation – the new Terminal 6. It is a project designed to deliver complete transformation of the airport into a 21st century global gateway, with state-of-the-art technologies streamlining the passenger experience.

The Port Authority has also begun exploring autonomous vehicles and robotics. Last year, it conducted a trial of autonomous fleets with Navya at JFK, and this May tested its first cargo drone flight from New Jersey to Brooklyn. Meanwhile, in June PANYNJ trialled autonomous vehicles from Ohmio at JFK Airport.

Learn more about The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s CX efforts at FTE Global. Elizabeth Paul, Manager, Aviation Technology and Innovation, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ), is speaking in the Future Mobility & Customer Journey conference track, in a session on “Better utilizing data to create improved CX & business performance by 2030”.

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Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport was firmly in the global spotlight last November and December during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Its preparations included significant investment in customer-centric innovative technologies to provide a fast, seamless travel experience.

In November 2022, Hamad International Airport unveiled Phase A of its airport expansion plan, consisting of one expansive terminal that enables travellers to seamlessly transfer from one area to another. The airport is continuing its innovation efforts as it moves into Phase B of its expansion, with plans to increase capacity to over 70 million passengers and construct two new concourses within the existing terminal.

Hamad International Airport is also recognised for its Digital Twin, which is pioneering the future of airport management and tackling longstanding issues of sub-optimal decision-making, due to insufficient information, while accelerating the adoption of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to make complex data analysis into simple recommendations, ushering in a new era of efficiency. The programme also incorporates data from ground handlers and airlines into the airport Digital Twin, which is a breakthrough in aviation stakeholders working together to drive benefits for all parties.

A central pillar of the airport’s digital strategy is the launch of a next-generation Wi-Fi service, which is designed to fit well within its strategy of seamless travel and strengthen its commitment to being “the leading global digital airport”. The high-performance Wi-Fi 6 connectivity across the entirety of the airport lays the foundation for enhanced operations with better insights to provide an enhanced passenger experience.

Most recently, Hamad International Airport further elevated its passengers’ airport experience with the introduction of innovative digital wayfinding. QR codes are leveraged to provide an easy to use wayfinding solution through different digital touchpoints located across the terminal.

His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, Group CEO, Qatar Airways Group, Hamad International Airport and Chairman of Qatar Tourism, is speaking at FTE Global in a special keynote interview conducted by Joe Leader, CEO, APEX/IFSA. Mr Al Baker will share the key learnings from hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and how Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport will build upon the tournament’s incredible legacy.

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Changi Airport

Changi Airport Group (CAG) has unveiled ChangiVerse, an innovative online experience, marking the airport’s debut in the metaverse. Changi is the first airport to create a virtual world on Roblox, a gaming platform that sees a monthly active user base of over 200 million across the globe. ChangiVerse aims to revolutionise the online airport experience, crossing physical barriers and time zones to allow fans of Changi, or those who have not had the chance to travel through the airport, to explore, interact, and engage with Changi in the digital space. The platform also aims engage travellers and serve them better through innovation and experimentation.

CAG is also recognised for its pioneering trials of robotics solutions, including an outdoor-based autonomous baggage loading system prototype jointly developed with Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation. To support air traffic recovery and meet long-term staffing needs, CAG is investing in robotics technology to automate labour-intensive roles in the outdoor apron environment. Autonomous technologies will be needed to meet a significantly increased need for airport employees.

Another example of CAG’s approach to innovation is its recent partnership with JustCo to launch Asia’s first pay-per-minute co-working centre in an airport at Changi Terminal 3. The centre, opening in Q4 2023, will offer 24/7 on-demand access to co-working spaces, a nap zone, and a variety of food options for travellers.

Looking ahead, CAG has ambitious plans for the future T5, which will leverage technology to automate and digitalise airport operations to enhance the passenger experience. For example, T5 could see the deployment of autonomous vehicles to support baggage and cargo transport on the airside, as well as robotics for baggage handling. The terminal will be designed to accommodate and facilitate deployment of such technology at scale. The project will also incorporate areas such as robotics and Artificial Intelligence.


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