The tech talk begins

October 25, 2016

The APEX Expo opened in Singapore on Monday (October 24) with 2000-plus registrants and 123 exhibitors ready to do business in over 13,000 sq m of exhibition space.

Co-locating this year with AIX Asia and FTE Asia has increased airline participation by creating a one-stop shop, and 4185 visitors had already registered to come to the show as the doors opened.

Aaron Heslehurst from BBC World News, a self-confessed ‘airline dork’ presented the first speaker at the conference, Pekka Vauramo, ceo Finnair. He told the conference that the airline’s essential trimming programme had ended in 2014, but that cost-cutting was not the way to create a great airline. Asking for a show of hands on who liked bad service, he said that improving the passenger experience was the way to make money.

Vauramo said that Finnair’s ‘Unique Nordic Experience’ is reflected in every element of its service, from the new A350 aircraft, to its airy, light lounges, to its meals with locally-sourced ingredients, had been successful, particularly with their Asian customers, in producing annual growth of 8%.

He said that airlines should model themselves on the hotel industry by avoiding commoditisation and by offering a clearly differentiated product. With overall passenger airline traffic growing at 4.8%, the increasing number of air travellers was a great opportunity.

Linda Celestino, vp guest services Etihad, made an impressive presentation on her airline’s achievements, including double digit growth year-on-year and the award of world’s leading airline for seven of the 13 years it has existed.

Supporting Vauramo’s thesis, she said that Etihad’s success came from benchmarking not against other airlines, but against outstanding hotels such as The Savoy. With 6500 crew from 140 countries, Michelin-starred chefs, nannies from London’s elite Norland College, and Savoy-trained butlers, she said that the airline’s people-focused approach supported its strong brand values.

Ingo Wuggetzer, vp cabin marketing Airbus, saw connectivity as a key issue for airlines. Pointing out that no airlines were connected in 2007 and 74 now had connectivity, he said that passengers were now expecting this and up to 65% were viewing it as a key criterion in airline choice.

He said that the A350XWB was their first ‘digital native’ aircraft, as 100% are being supplied with connectivity already installed. He looked forward to 2025, when 17,000 aircraft would be connected, and passengers would enjoy managing their journeys with ‘easy, seamless, door-to-door connectivity’.

Among exhibitors at APEX, Lufthansa Systems is showcasing innovations to its BoardConnect and BC Portable IFE solutions. The company has developed sample language versions for the Asian market, including Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian, to demonstrate the attractiveness of its BoardConnect platform. Other languages can also be easily adopted on the system.

BoardConnect enables passengers to stream content to their own mobile devices. As well as the permanently installed ‘classic’ version of BoardConnect, Lufthansa Systems offers a BoardConnect Portable solution. It is likely to be more attractive to low-cost carriers and regional airlines as all of the technical components are combined in a single device that can be installed quickly and easily on any aircraft.

Talking about the new developments, Norbert Müller, svp BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems said: “Connectivity is becoming an increasingly important topic for airlines because passengers expect to be able to use the same online and streaming services on board as on the ground. Our BoardConnect platform is the ideal enabler for this. We have also expanded our partner network so that airlines can tailor their IFE offers perfectly to the needs of their respective target groups.”

Read our next issue – out mid-November – for a further news from APEX Expo