January 10, 2018
Since the exponential growth of Bitcoin, whose price has recently hit more than $15,000, the technology behind it, blockchain, is attracting more attention. More than simply enabling currencies, blockchain is expected to superpower the capability of countless industries, including Air Travel. German Airline Lufthansa Group has recently adopted Bitcoin’s blockchain technology to make travel cheaper (1)R. Air France KLM, one of the world’s largest airline wants to be at the forefront of the disruption by relying on blockchain development to track its maintenance and repair systems (2). Airline companies are beginning to see the value of this revolutionary digital, distributed ledger system.
The facets of the airline industry – and also the broader travel industry – align very well with the capabilities of the blockchain. To be more specific, blockchain could be employed in almost all stages in the complicated and security-filled steps of air travel.
Blockchain proves fantastic for the management of aircraft and flights. First, Maintenance/Repair/Overhaul (MRO) can be tracked on the blockchain , helping the provenance of every part of the aircraft be instantly available and speeding up due diligence around future lifecycle events. Second, it facilitates Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM) . To address the need of many separate parties coming together to safely get the aircraft landed, turned around and airborne again within the constraints of strict time expectations and weather events, blockchain allows each party to update information on the blockchain. Thus everyone gets a true picture of what is happening in near real time at an airport. This would mean that decision making would not happen in isolation and therefore produce fewer delays. Relying on blockchain to coordinate flights could also highlight areas which regularly cause delays and thus produce changes in flight schedules.
Protecting data privacy is an important issue when it comes to passenger records, flight manifests and crew information. Blockchain technology provides a very different and less risky way of managing and sharing sensitive information through the use of authorized access requirements.
Blockpass, for instance, is a blockchain-based identity protocol which connects human and device identities. Customers’ identification is automatically validated without relying on time-consuming human checks. It could drastically reduce the unnecessary time customers spend when booking flights, which would amount to savings for both air travel providers and travelers.
Blockchain development can help companies become more customer-centric. As we may know, it is often annoying to face a delayed flight. Smart contracts backed by blockchain can help the situation by offering compensation if a flight is delayed. Unlike the current, lengthy process, with blockchain, after a certain wait, customers could be immediately credited or given perks such as free food or lounge access . Also, blockchain allows flexible charters to offer flights that would only take off after all tickets were sold, thus helping companies maximize profits and keep ticket prices low. This financial engineering allowing an airline to manage volatility of demand in a competitive pricing environment represents a significant improvement over current systems.
Airline ticket management requires a massive database, and complex system dependant on human interaction. Airline companies can employ blockchain development to improve ticketing services by using smart-contracts, managing loyalty points, as well as in keeping passenger information and data more secure. For example, the biggest Russian Airline, Airline S7, is now using blockchain to issue tickets.
While luggage loss rates are at a historical low, issues still persist, and a blockchain-based solution for tracking luggage could manage passenger items. Instead of a customer having to wait at a conveyor, and then find his/her airline’s luggage counter when a bag doesn’t show, all airlines could track luggage handling on a single blockchain which is accessible by the passenger. Air New Zealand is exploring blockchain technology for booking and baggage tracking via a partnership with Swiss startup Winding Tree (5). The traveler could even be able to see if their luggage is on the plane. Smart contracts could also be deployed to automatically trigger insurance payouts when luggage is delayed or irrevocably lost and a single luggage desk covering all airlines can replace the different branded desks (airline or alliance) at the baggage claim hall as we see today.
Thanks to blockchain development, the airline industry, known to be a harsh playground for newcomers to enter, is prone to allow more small companies to compete with big players. As a result, the market will become more competitive, forcing airlines to innovate, leading to more innovations beneficial to travelers. Before, the dominant players forced travel prices to continuously rise due to imposed fees. However, the application of blockchain development may change such status quo and make flights cheaper for travelers but still profitable for providers.
On the other hand, one of the concerns for this innovative technology is that it may make a great number of personnel in airline industry become redundant or potentially replace intermediaries such as Traveloka, Airbnb and Uber. Yet, this is the unavoidable growing trend occurring regardless of blockchain. Overall, the advantages of blockchain being used by airlines greatly outweigh the negatives. The industry is another great example of how blockchain is spreading its wings beyond mere cryptocurrencies and beginning to impact real people in their daily lives.
Infinity Blockchain Labs is a visionary R&D company engaged in intermediary and RegTech services employing blockchain development. We focus on forming alliances with established businesses and regulatory institutions across various industries, as well as providing collaborative incubation for early stage blockchain projects. We aspire to empower Vietnam to become a global leader in blockchain. And therefore are committed to sharing information to nurture a passionate, educated blockchain community. We understand that the technology’s success depends on its ability to impact basic aspects of normal lives and we are therefore we are delighted to discuss how blockchain development can impact air travel.
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