IAG, Schiphol, Qatar Airways, ADR, Lufthansa, Dubai Airports, Air France, Aena, Turkish Airlines, Fraport and more to pitch on stage in Dublin for FTE Innovate Awards

At the epicentre of the co-located FTE EMEA and FTE Ancillary & Retailing events (Dublin, 11-13 June 2024) will be the region’s largest and most respected innovation competition – the FTE Innovate Awards. There are three awards categories: Air France, flydubai, International Airlines Group (IAG), Lufthansa Group, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Vueling Airlines are shortlisted for Most Innovative Airline Initiative; Aena, Aeroporti di Roma, Athens International Airport, Dubai Airports, Fraport, iGA Istanbul Airport and Schiphol Group are shortlisted for Most Innovative Airport Initiative; and Content Trip Solutions (Smartvel), Galeri AG and ZestIoT are shortlisted for Best New CX Concept. Each of the shortlisted entrants will pitch on-stage in Dublin in an effort to impress our judges and audience, whose all-important votes will decide who wins. Find out more about why they made the shortlist and what they will present in the pitch sessions.

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Most Innovative Airline Initiative shortlist

Air France’s disruptive AI-powered solution for unidentifiable baggage

Air France – a partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – is shortlisted for its Reco Photo project – a disruptive AI-powered solution for unidentifiable baggage. At Paris-CDG, around 20,000 bags are found tagless per year. This innovative system currently matches 90% of bags that went through a camera in the sorter. The hope, once the airline has 100% sorter coverage, is to be able to match at least 90% of bags found tagless. Air France says this is the first time an airline has focused so much effort on disrupted baggage in order to return the bag to its owner as fast as possible. “This innovation relies on a disruptive usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI), based on the principle of human biometrics,” Air France explains. “It is also the first time such an innovative process is created in the world of baggage, which is usually very conservative.”

flydubai’s fully-fledged iPad-enabled check-in

flydubai – a partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – is shortlisted for its fully-fledged iPad-enabled check-in that manages passenger flow from car park to boarding gate within 10 minutes. The airline has embraced the concept of ‘device as a service’ to connect iPads with the devices through WiFi and Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure. This in-house-built kiosk features an iPad touch screen, passport reader, boarding pass and bag tag printers, and credit card POS machine. flydubai also has a roadmap to integrate a baggage weighing scale and biometrics. “The USP of this solution is the remote device management, as the devices are connected through a server, we can manage all kiosks deployed at various airports from a central location and do not require support staff at each airport,” flydubai explains.

International Airlines Group’s transformative EMU Mission Control initiative

International Airlines Group (IAG) – a Corporate Partner of the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub and a Partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – is shortlisted for its transformative EMU Mission Control initiative, which pulls together multiple data sources to drive better decision-making and deliver operational, customer, commercial and sustainability benefits in real time. From avoiding aircraft being unnecessarily held short of a stand resulting in excess fuel burn, through to making sure passengers with reduced mobility (PRMs) have a better experience, Mission Control is surfacing the right information at the right time to deliver improvements in operational efficiency, sustainability, customer experience, and commercial performance. “This solution is innovative because it not only pulls together a such diverse set of data for analysis, but also that it can visualise and alert users in such a unique way,” IAG explains. “We can also look back to take learnings to improve future process and decision-making, and export data.”

Hear more from International Airlines Group (IAG) at the co-located FTE EMEA and FTE Ancillary & Retailing events, taking place in Dublin on 11-13 June 2024. Harvey Tate, Human API – Digital Transformation, IAG, is speaking in a session focused on ‘What are the new technologies and approaches, that can make a transformational difference to the ways air transport stakeholders will operate in the future?’ He will deliver a presentation titled: ‘IAG is exploring a path to dark airport (fully autonomous) operations in the future, but how long might that take to achieve and what does it need to see from industry stakeholders to make such a vision a reality?’ Martin Thomas, Implementation Manager, Airports Automation, IAG Airports, will deliver a scene-setting presentation in ‘The FTE APEX Lounge Innovation Summit’ titled ‘The latest thinking on the way to develop, and run lounges, across the IAG group’. Meanwhile, Annalisa Gigante, Board Member of Hangar 51 & Head of Innovation, IAG, is participating in the ‘Closing Leaders Keynote Session’ – a fast-moving and entertaining panel discussion on customer-centric innovation and business transformation.

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Lufthansa Group’s Over Flow Center

Lufthansa Group – a Partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – is shortlisted for its Over Flow Center (OFC), with locations in Frankfurt and Munich, which integrates innovative IT solutions to reunite travellers with their baggage in cases of irregularities. The goal is to systematically record massive amounts of luggage, assign them to their owners, and deliver them shortly through various methods (parcel delivery, forwarding by flight, etc). The integration of innovative IT solutions, such as user-friendly dashboards and API interfaces to luggage tracking systems like World Tracer, enables customers to seamlessly track their luggage. These IT-supported tools increase transparency and enable dynamic process adjustments, ensuring continuous improvement and flexible response to unforeseen events. “Rapid resolution of irregularities leads to improved customer experience as delays are minimised and customer satisfaction is enhanced,” Lufthansa Group explains. “This direct improvement in service quality positively impacts commercial performance by strengthening customer loyalty and attracting new customers through word of mouth.”

Hear more from Lufthansa Group at the co-located FTE EMEA and FTE Ancillary & Retailing events, taking place in Dublin on 11-13 June 2024. Jost Daft, Head of Order Transformation, Lufthansa Group, will deliver a presentation in the FTE Ancillary & Retailing conference titled ‘Modern Airline Retailing at Lufthansa Group: Insights and Outlook’.

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Qatar Airways’ new Generative AI experience

Qatar AirwaysQatar Airways is shortlisted for its new Generative AI experience designed to make travel planning hassle-free and personalised, intuitively understanding and anticipating customer preferences. By using frictionless visual interactions and an interactive 3D map, customers’ travel preferences are understood, eliminating the need for manual searches and detailed text inputs. This development is part of Qatar Airways’ ongoing efforts to push the boundaries of travel, enhancing passenger comfort and convenience at every stage of their journey. “At the heart of our prompt-less AI experience is our commitment to eliminating friction in our customers’ travelling journey,” Qatar Airways explains. “Known for our industry-leading lightning-fast websites and mobile apps, we’ve now extended this ethos of speed and simplicity to destination planning through simple visual interaction. The prompt-less AI experience intuitively understands and anticipates our customers’ preferences, delivering personalised destination suggestions instantly.”

Turkish Airlines’ digital wallet solution

Turkish Airlines – a Partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – is shortlisted for TK Wallet, a digital wallet solution used for modern financial transactions, which is linked to customer profile and integrated with Miles and Smiles loyalty program membership, while also offering revenue opportunities. Users can choose from four currencies and adjust the payment currency for international flights according to the currency of the wallet, offering significant convenience for international customers. One of the most notable features of TK Wallet is the incremental refund feature, which allows users to return a higher amount to the wallet than the standard refund amount. “This innovative approach encourages customers to use the wallet more actively,” Turkish Airlines explains. “For example, in the case of a refund for a ticket worth 1,000 TL, the customer is offered options to refund directly to a credit card or to the wallet in a higher amount.” The target is to retain an annual refund volume of $2.4 million within the TK Wallet and convert this amount into ticket and additional service purchases.

Vueling Airlines for the 19 initiatives in its Transform program

Vueling Airlines is shortlisted for its Vueling Transform program, consisting of 19 initiatives driving transformation through innovation and progressive adoption of biometric technology. Vueling – a member of International Airlines Group (IAG) – has deployed facial recognition in collaboration with Aena at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat, Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, Palma de Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Tenerife Norte, and Las Palmas airports. This milestone, developed within the framework of Vueling Transform, allows passengers to go through airport security and board the aircraft in a simpler, easier, and faster way thanks to innovation and the development of biometric technology. Integration of facial recognition technology represents the culmination of the airline’s total digitalisation of the customer journey. “With this innovation, passengers can seamlessly complete their entire journey from purchase to destination without any assistance, including online booking, online check-in, self-service baggage drop at airport kiosks, passing through security, and boarding via biometrics,” Vueling explains.

Most Innovative Airport Initiative shortlist

Aena’s Oli chatbot

AENAAena is shortlisted for its Oli chatbot, which has had a profound impact on operational efficiency, customer experience and digital transformation by automating passenger interactions and information dissemination. By integrating key flight data, FAQs and points of interest, Oli reduces the burden on physical resources such as information desks and staff, minimising waiting times and queues. Proactive alerts from the Aena network ensure that passengers are promptly informed of any disruptions or changes, improving overall operational readiness. Oli embodies Aena’s digital transformation, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation for a modern experience. The chatbot has evolved from a standard discriminative model (searching for the best answer in the database) to one enriched with Large Language Models (LLMs), in which Aena has improved recognition of the intent of the questions asked by passengers and the generation of personalised answers that are more relevant and accurate. “By enriching Oli with LLMs, Aena is at the forefront of AI. This enrichment allows a more natural conversation with Oli and a higher level of complexity in the answers, breaking the limits of the previous model,” Aena explains.

Aeroporti di Roma’s Innovation Program

Aeroporti di Roma (ADR) – a Corporate Partner of the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub – is shortlisted for its Innovation Program, which is transforming travel experiences with technology, sustainability, customer-focused solutions and startup acceleration, with the help of its Innovation Cabin Crew. Through its Innovation Program, ADR has made improvements by accelerating startups in areas including:

  • Operational efficiency: “ADR selected AI-based startups like Aeroficial Intelligence and Auxilia to deliver solutions and improve the efficiency and safety of airside operations and enable greater effectiveness of security check performances.”
  • Customer experience: “We’ve partnered with ZestIoT for real-time terminal boarding monitoring via our web app, ensuring anxiety-free travel for passengers. Also, we’re working with WHILL to provide autonomous services for passengers with reduced mobility, testing their technology directly with our passengers.”
  • Commercial performance: “We selected Hamsa ID to develop innovative biometric solutions integrated with a payment system inside our F&B to provide a seamless experience.”
  • Sustainability: “We supported Relearn to improve waste sorting using AI, simplifying and streamlining the process for passengers to identify and separate waste accurately.”

Hear more from Aeroporti di Roma at the co-located FTE EMEA and FTE Ancillary & Retailing events, taking place in Dublin on 11-13 June 2024. Giovanni Gennaro, Open Innovation Manager & CVC, Aeroporti di Roma, is participating in ‘The FTE EMEA/Ancillary & Retailing Digital Identity Symposium’.

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Athens International Airport’s Passengers with Hearing Disabilities Platform Project

Athens International Airport is shortlisted for its Passengers with Hearing Disabilities Platform Project, which leverages cutting-edge technology to address a gap in accessibility and inclusivity, revolutionising the travel experience. The platform not only enhances operational efficiency by streamlining communication processes and ensuring seamless navigation throughout the airport, but also significantly improves the customer experience by providing tailored support and accessibility features. “Through real-time information dissemination, visual notifications, and user-friendly interfaces, we empower passengers with hearing disabilities to navigate the airport independently and with confidence, fostering a sense of inclusivity and dignity,” Athens International Airport explains. “Moreover, by prioritising accessibility and inclusivity, our initiative contributes to the commercial performance of Athens International Airport by attracting a broader customer base and enhancing brand reputation. Overall, the Passengers with Hearing Disabilities Platform Project represents a paradigm shift in airport accessibility and sets a new standard for inclusive travel experiences.”

Dubai Airports’ Pocket Flights mobile flight information platform

Dubai Airports is shortlisted for Pocket Flights – its mobile flight information platform. A single QR code scan provides passengers with comprehensive flight details, including gate changes, boarding times, and delays, directly on their devices. Once scanned, a passenger is then viewing their very own flight information screen in the palm of their hand. The platform is equipped with extra functionality that is not available in traditional flight information displays, including the capability to pin your flight, receive notifications, use wayfinding services, and view metro timings, with multi-language support. One of the most significant advantages of this technology is its accessibility. Passengers no longer need to clutter their smartphones with multiple apps dedicated to various airlines or airports. Since the launch of Pocket Flights in 2023, Dubai Airports has had over 202,000 unique visitors to the platform and over 1.28 million page views. “QR code-based flight information systems represent a significant advancement in travel convenience, revolutionising the way passengers interact with airports and airlines,” Dubai Airports explains.

Fraport’s digital Crewshop

Fraport – an Airport Lab Network Partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – is shortlisted for its digital Crewshop, which enables employees to buy items from retailers located at the airport at particularly favourable conditions and pick them up onsite, with home delivery planned at a later date. With the Crewshop, Fraport is following the approach of a closed shopping community. In this way, it ensures that only employees can use the Crewshop. With the online store approach, it brings the items from the retailers located at the airport directly to the employees’ personal devices. “At present, the average shopping baskets are over €100 per order,” Fraport explains. “The Crewshop taps into a customer group that very few people think about. But the initial figures show that it is relevant and has strong purchasing power. Just think what else is in here. It increases sales without increasing physical retail space and without additional staff.”

iGA Istanbul Airport’s ‘Digital Companions’ and world-first ‘Accessible Route’

Istanbul AirportiGA Istanbul Airport is shortlisted for its ‘Digital Companions’, which integrate physical interactions and digital steps, including the world-first ‘Accessible Route’ for visually and hearing-impaired travellers. Using conversational AI technology, the airport has developed a digital assistant system to respond to customer enquiries 24/7. The innovative and technological functions were determined by combining common pain-points on experience maps and the expectations of travellers for individual steps such as car park and transportation, wayfinding in the terminal, travel requirements and boarding. “The menus, scenarios, and service channels mentioned in the scope with AI supported have been implemented for the first time in the aviation sector. We make use of ‘Digital Companions’ designed to encompass almost each and every contact point,” iGA Istanbul Airport explains. “We have also implemented the ‘My Route’ function and the ‘Accessible Route’, a first in the world. Our visually and hearing-impaired guests can also get information about the direction they will go with the ‘Loud Steps’ support on our mobile application.”

Hear more from iGA Istanbul Airport at the co-located FTE EMEA and FTE Ancillary & Retailing events, taking place in Dublin on 11-13 June 2024. Ahmet Er, Digital Transformation and Channel Management Deputy Manager, İGA Istanbul Airport and Dilanur Çetinalp,  Digital Transformation and Channel Management Supervisor, İGA Istanbul Airport, will deliver a presentation titled ‘How is Istanbul Airport taking its digital transformation and customer experience efforts to the next level through channel management, innovation, accessibility, omnichannel strategy, AI, ChatGPT and chatbots, personalisation, segmentation, research, insights and more?’

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Schiphol’s ‘Travor’ Passenger Experience Platform

Royal-Schiphol-GroupSchiphol Group – a Corporate Partner of the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub and an Airport Lab Network Partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – is shortlisted for its Passenger Experience Platform – Travor – which has delivered tangible results in terms of passenger satisfaction, operational efficiency and self-service success. The platform helps to provide passengers with a stress-free journey, answers any questions they have, helps them to enjoy their time spent in the terminal, and enables them to make the most of the airport’s operations and commercial opportunities. “We strongly believe that, with this approach, we have created the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of passenger experience,” Schiphol Group explains. “There are many tools and kiosks that provide an answer to a single use case. Our platform combines a variety of use cases relevant to different passenger types. We are relevant across all touchpoints in the terminal – departure, transfer and arrival – and to any passenger demographic, as well as 20+ different languages and passengers with special needs.”

Hear more from Schiphol Group at the co-located FTE EMEA and FTE Ancillary & Retailing events, taking place in Dublin on 11-13 June 2024. Arthur Reijnhart, Executive Director Schiphol Commercial, Royal Schiphol Group, will deliver a Special Keynote titled ‘Schiphol have chartered a bold new course for the future of their commercial strategies, but what exactly does that look like and what were the motivating factors to setting this new course?’

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Best New CX Concept shortlist

Content Trip Solutions’ Explore&Go interactive map

Content Trip Solutions (Smartvel) is shortlisted for Explore&Go – an interactive map that showcases destinations aligning with traveller preferences according to budget, interests, type of trip, profile or mood, so users have all the information they need in one place. Explore&Go helps airlines attract new customers at their inspiration stage, taking them into a journey of discovery and making an impression through captivating visuals and informative content. It can be customised according to the airline look and feel for a perfect integration on their apps and websites, while providing filters based on their customers’ preferences. “Smartvel’s AI-powered travel content technology crafted by our skilled content team, provides continuous updating to the content so that customers can have all the latest info, saving time and money to marketing and content teams,” Content Trip Solutions (Smartvel) explains. “In essence, Explore&Go impacts potential customers at the awareness stage and makes the purchase decision easier, enhancing conversion rates and personalising strategies for each individual.”

Galeri AG’s innovative approach to revolutionise media consumption

Galeri AG is shortlisted for an innovative approach combining technology, entertainment, and mental health to revolutionise media consumption. By integrating biofeedback sensors with immersive media, the initiative aims to empower users, providing personalised content recommendations based on users’ physiological and cognitive states. The concept of Galeri aims to redefine airport experience with immersive XR technology. At the intersection of aviation and healthcare expertise, Galeri is distinct from other XR technologies, as it serves as an escape from the anxieties or boredom of airport travel and unlocks the future of personalised wellness. Galeri stands out as a transformative initiative that integrates cutting-edge technology with a focus on mental health and well-being. “Its innovative approach to media consumption, strategic targeting of the aviation industry, emphasis on user experience, and alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals demonstrate a holistic and impactful vision,” Galeri AG explains.

ZestIoT’s SmartBoarding solution

ZestIoT is shortlisted for its first-to-market solution, SmartBoarding, which has been rolled out with inaugural client Aeroporti di Roma. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), SmartBoarding enables passengers to view live flight and boarding progress, including a live video feed of the gate straight to their mobile device. The passenger scans a QR code, chooses their gate and is subsequently presented with a more detailed mobile FID which provides live video of the gate, departure information, boarding progress (as a percentage) and any customised communications required by the airport or airline. “For the airport/airline, the solution has increased passenger satisfaction, increased dwell time in the departure areas and increased non-aeronautical revenue potential,” ZestIoT explains. “The airport/airline will be provided with an analytical dashboard where they themselves can review, in real-time, boarding progress and flight status, including the use of AI to count the number of cabin bags and wheelchairs.”

Meet our judging panel

The neutral judging panel for the FTE Innovate Awards 2024 comprises: Kevin Kleist, Senior Emerging Trends Advisor, Southwest Airlines; Linda Schucroft, Vice President of Innovation and Customer Experience, King Salman International Airport; and Rohit Talwar, CEO, Fast Future.
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