AirAsia, IST, Ryanair, LHR, PLAY and DOH recognised in FTE Ancillary & Retailing Awards, plus Transformation Power List winners announced


Future Travel Experience has announced the winners of the FTE World Airline Ancillary and FTE World Airport Retailing Awards, as well as the airline and airport leaders from the FTE EMEA Transformation Power List. The presentation ceremony was held at the co-located FTE EMEA and FTE Ancillary & Retailing events, which took place at the RDS Dublin on 11-13 June 2024, as part of the Networking Reception sponsored by FLYR. Winners were also announced in the APEX Passenger Choice Awards.

25 airlines and 25 airports were shortlisted for the FTE World Airline Ancillary & FTE World Airport Retailing Awards 2024. Three airlines and three airports were awarded with bronze, silver and gold trophies, further to a voting process conducted through FTE Advisory Board members, and other key trusted collaborators.

FTE World Airline Ancillary Award bronze winner: PLAY Airlines

Dominic Matthews, General Manager EMEA, FLYR, and Sonja Arnorsdottie, CCO, PLAY.

PLAY Airlines is laser-focused on its digital retailing approach and conversion. It has seen significant growth in ancillary revenue – up by an impressive 152% in 2023, outperforming a capacity increase of 89%. PLAY is making a significant investment into a new Customer Data Platform and amplifying the impact this has with new partners that are helping to generate a higher average basket value by driving interaction and sales.

FTE World Airline Ancillary Award silver winner: Ryanair

Dominic Matthews, General Manager EMEA, FLYR, and Greg O’Gorman, Director of Ancillary Revenue, Ryanair.

Ryanair’s ancillary revenue increased 10% to almost €1 billion in Q4 2023. Spend on discretionary services such as priority boarding, reserved seating and inflight sales have increased to an impressive €23.50 per passenger. The airline’s enhanced ancillary offering includes a partnership with Coras, enabling travellers to search for and purchase event and attraction tickets at the same time as booking a flight. Meanwhile, Ryanair has also built a solution via its app, allowing travellers to fast-track their retail and F&B purchases by ordering anything from the inflight magazine digitally by connecting to Bluetooth.

FTE World Airline Ancillary Award gold winner: AirAsia

Dominic Matthews, General Manager EMEA, FLYR; Mei Hong Wong, Head of Ancillary Revenue, AirAsia; and Kok-Ding Chan, Chief of Staff, AirAsia MOVE.

In 2023, AirAsia’s ancillary revenue per passenger climbed by about 10% as the take-up rate increased on the back of optimised commercial initiatives and exceptional improvements in ancillary income. Last year, the airline partnered with Avolta to expand the retail offer available through the online travel retail platform accessed via its innovative app, which aspires to redefine the duty free, travel and overseas retail shopping experience and pioneer digital transformation.

FTE World Airport Retailing Award bronze winner: Hamad International Airport

Robert Hassard, Head of Growth, CAVU, and Gerald Ong, Strategy and Commercial Development, Hamad International Airport.

Hamad International Airport is dedicated to innovation, exceptional customer service, and delivering unique experiences. In the last year alone, world-first openings include the unveiling of new luxury brand concepts and a real sense of place with an experiential mixed retail and dining concept. Pioneering approaches include ‘Transit Tourism’, while digital transformation is central to this airport’s strategy. Indeed, Hamad International Airport is adopting increased digitalisation in response to the digitally-savvy profile of its passengers – 30% of whom are Millennials.

FTE World Airport Retailing Award silver winner: Heathrow Airport

Robert Hassard, Head of Growth, CAVU, and George Philippou, Digital Retail Senior Account Manager, Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Airport continues to evolve its retail and F&B offer in pursuit of its vision to deliver “the best airport service in the world”. As part of this, it opened 36 new or refreshed units in 2023 – an impressive increase on pre-pandemic levels. Heathrow emphasises the importance of a collaborative approach across the quaternity of retailers, airports, brands and Out of Home media partners. Its evolving retail strategy is focused on four pillars: Digital Growth, Experiential, Space Optimisation and Compelling Offer – and it is certainly delivering in all of these areas.

FTE World Airport Retailing Award gold winner: Istanbul Airport

Daniel Coleman, Founder and CEO, Future Travel Experience; Robert Hassard, Head of Growth, CAVU; Dr. Reha Çetin, General Manager, IST Systems; and Ahmet Er, Digital Transformation and Channel Management Deputy Manager, Istanbul Airport.

Istanbul Airport truly bridges digital and physical retail, with a strategy designed to provide a deep and detailed view of customer behaviour across all channels. The airport is utilising cutting-edge technology such as Augmented Reality to provide passengers with information about the retail outlets by accompanying them around the International Terminal shopping area. This allows users to see objects virtually and in 3D, providing an interactive real-world environment.

FTE Airline/Airport Transformation Power Lists: ‘Exceptional Ambition and Orchestration’

Future Travel Experience (FTE) launched the FTE Airline/Airport Transformation Power Lists to shine a light on the most transformative digital change enablers within the airline and airport industry in the EMEA region, who are pioneering new approaches that have the potential to improve travel for passengers and make the industry safer, more efficient and commercially successful.

24 leading figures from airlines and airports across the region were nominated, with six of them recognised for ‘Exceptional Ambition and Orchestration’, further to a voting process conducted through FTE Advisory Board members, and other key trusted collaborators. This year we honed-in on those executives whose organisations truly have industry-leading digital strategies at the epicentre of their business and are going about their leadership and delivery of that ambition in a unique fashion to ensure they achieve those goals – because true innovation is rarely achieved by simply putting out an RFP to the market in our view. It’s about being progressive and leading from the front, developing incredible in-house tech talent and co-creating solutions with partners, established suppliers and startups that would never come into existence otherwise. If you want unique outcomes you must take a unique approach to how you get there, and our winners tonight are certainly doing that.

FTE Airline Transformation Power List: Abe Dev, Vice President Digital & Innovation, Riyadh Air

Jamie Heaslip, Head of International Growth, Stripe and international rugby legend; Abe Dev, Vice President Digital & Innovation, Riyadh Air; and Dr Joe Leader, CEO, APEX and IFSA.

Abe Dev, Vice President Digital & Innovation, Riyadh Air, represents the first truly digitally-native airline, from a country – Saudi Arabia – whose rising air transport sector is among our industry’s biggest stories right now. The airline was established in March last year with the vision to be at “the cutting-edge of digital aviation” and Dev is at the very heart of these efforts. Riyadh Air has agreed major technology partnerships that are pushing the boundaries of innovation to deliver unique, intelligent and hyper-personalised guest journeys. The mindset is to truly set a new standard for our sector and enable innovation at every guest touchpoint to a level we’ve never seen before.

FTE Airline Transformation Power List: John Hurley, Chief Technology Officer, Ryanair 

Jamie Heaslip, Head of International Growth, Stripe and international rugby legend; John Hurley, Chief Technology Officer, Ryanair; and Dr Joe Leader, CEO, APEX and IFSA.

John Hurley, Chief Technology Officer, is driving Ryanair’s digital transformation strategy from a low-cost carrier to its ambitions of revolutionising travel for Europe. The airline is focused on building and marketing the best digital travel products for web, mobile and whatever comes next, driven by emerging technologies and with a burning passion for digital transformation. Ryanair has also partnered with Amazon Web Services, rebuilding legacy systems into cloud-based, innovative services and leveraging Machine Learning to transform the digital experience of customers. The airline is also working in-house with Cation Consulting, delivering transformation at scale by leveraging Conversational AI and Generative AI for the travel industry, with a focus on both guests and crew. Hurley also leads a team of developers working at the airline’s digital innovation hubs around Europe, with over 600 tech professionals in Dublin alone.

FTE Airline Transformation Power List: Barış Fındık, Chief Information Officer, Pegasus Airlines 

Jamie Heaslip, Head of International Growth, Stripe and international rugby legend; Barış Fındık, Chief Information Officer, Pegasus Airlines; and Dr Joe Leader, CEO, APEX and IFSA.

Barış Fındık, Chief Information Officer, is leading an ambitious new chapter for Pegasus Airlines. The aim is to become one of the best three airlines in the world for airline tech and the focus areas to achieve this are blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, intelligent things, and the cloud. As part of these efforts, Fındık is driving a digitally-focused journey that includes the recent establishment of a Silicon Valley-based Technology Innovation Lab – not just to meet startups, but to also get closer to the tech giants to understand their thinking and even help influence it. Pegasus has a growing in-house team, using the LCC mindset to create innovative solutions. Indeed, it is driving a lot of firsts – from sending boarding passes via WhatsApp to enhancing safety using Virtual Reality. The aim is to make the travel experience of guests and the work experience of employees easier, faster and more efficient. Using investment in tech as a key differentiator, Fındık is key to developing many projects focused on digital transformation including a FlyBot virtual assistant, as well as the integration of ChatGPT.

FTE Airport Transformation Power List: Dr. Reha Çetin, General Manager, IST Systems

Dr Joe Leader, CEO, APEX and IFSA; Dr. Reha Çetin, General Manager, IST Systems; and Jamie Heaslip, Head of International Growth, Stripe and international rugby legend.

Dr. Reha Çetin, General Manager, IST Systems, is the driving force behind digital transformation efforts at Istanbul Airport, which has declared 2024 the ‘Year of Investments’. The innovative approach the airport has taken is to have its entire tech department set up as a subsidiary of the airport, believing this is the right approach to succeeding and it certainly appears to be the case. The IT journey so far has been divided into three phases, starting with ‘Infrastructure Technology’, before moving on to ‘Information Technology’ and now to ‘Innovation Technology’ – an exciting new phase with lots of potential to explore. Istanbul Airport is a pioneer of next-generation digital experiences, with Çetin leading the implementation of tech including Augmented Reality, Big Data, biometrics and the Internet of Things, among many others. Innovations also include ‘Digital Companions’, which integrate physical interactions and digital steps, including the world-first ‘Accessible Route’ for visually and hearing-impaired travellers.

FTE Airport Transformation Power List: Emanuele Calà, Vice President Innovation & Quality, Aeroporti di Roma

Dr Joe Leader, CEO, APEX and IFSA; Giovanni Gennaro, Head of Open Innovation, Aeroporti di Roma (accepting the award on behalf of Emanuele Calà, Vice President Innovation & Quality, Aeroporti di Roma); and Jamie Heaslip, Head of International Growth, Stripe and international rugby legend.

Emanuele Calà, Vice President Innovation & Quality, is the driving force behind Aeroporti di Roma’s (ADR) ‘Innovation Hub’. ADR recently led a third ‘Call4Startups’, empowering the next generation of disruptors with the opportunity to embark on an eight-month journey to develop a Proof of Concept within the ‘Innovation Hub’ at Fiumicino Airport. The exciting innovation projects being focused on right now include autonomous wheelchairs, AI algorithms, and biometrics to name just three. A number of airports have commented to FTE that they look at this programme with awe, remarking on how this strategy is not just words, but is backed by incredible resource and investment to put innovation at the epicentre of ADR’s strategy going forward.

FTE Airport Transformation Power List: Nick Woods, Chief Information Officer, Manchester Airports Group

Dr Joe Leader, CEO, APEX and IFSA; Nick Woods, Chief Information Officer, Manchester Airports Group; and Jamie Heaslip, Head of International Growth, Stripe and international rugby legend.

Nick Woods, Chief Information Officer, leads digital transformation efforts at Manchester Airports Group (MAG), whose stated tech mission is to create the world’s most intelligent airports. MAG is doing some really exciting things around passenger flow tied to occupancy, comfort levels and spend, using new data science and AI models to optimise across these metrics. The group has some really cool pieces of work taking place with Amazon Web Services around Generative AI to better engage passengers, as well as game-changing self-learning AI models for computer vision. It is clearly a super-exciting time right across MAG and the partnership approach similarly includes collaboration with Microsoft, Veovo, Copenhagen Optimization and many others, while Woods is also on the ACI World Airport IT Standing Committee, playing a leading industry role in digital transformation efforts.

APEX Passenger Choice Awards

Meanwhile, the APEX Passenger Choice Awards ceremony took place recognising airlines from Europe, South America & North America for their outstanding CX efforts as voted for across 1.2 million flights through TripIt. Follow APEX Media for more coverage.


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