Photo © John Taggart (cc-by-sa/2.0)
On Wednesday, Air New Zealand said that it has teamed up with Winding Tree, a Swiss travel start-up, to explore applications based on blockchain technology that could help the New Zealand’s national flag carrier improve the security and efficiency of services including booking and baggage tracking.
The digital ledger of transactions, Blockchain, has underpinned the virtual currency bitcoin. It has penetrated every aspect of the business and financial landscape. Almost all global corporations across the globe have some sort of blockchain initiative.
The New Zealand airline also said that it is investing in the token sale of Winding Tree that is slated for January 2018. Air New Zealand did not reveal how much it intends to invest.
Initial coin offerings or token sales have become a way for start-ups in the blockchain space across the globe to raise funds quickly and without regulatory oversight.
In a statement, Avi Golan, the Air New Zealand chief digital officer, said that the airline is looking at a number of possible uses of blockchain such as retail, cargo and baggage tracking, loyalty program opportunities, and distribution.
“While we are still exploring its benefits, blockchain may offer a streamlined way to retail airfares and ancillary products alongside our current channels,” Golan said.
He added that in making the sales process less complicated, customers of Air New Zealand could benefit from lowered transactional costs, while the airline can take advantage of the quick and secure sharing of information.
Winding Tree is a decentralized marketplace that is built on the ethereum blockchain. It aims to develop what it believes to be the first travel marketplace that will connect suppliers including hotels and airlines directly to sellers, enabling companies to bypass third-party vendors.
Air New Zealand said that it has worked with various technology partners in order to introduce innovations in the company. These include Oscar, an artificial intelligence-backed chatbot, which assists customers with queries online and through the mobile app of Air New Zealand.
The airline has also experimented with Chip, the social robot which helped customers with check-ins at the Sydney Airport earlier in 2017.
Recently, Lufthansa, the German national carrier, has also revealed partnerships with Winding Tree. Lufthansa was interested in exploring use cases that would place a booking, rebooking, and traveller itinerary information on the blockchain.