There are many inflight technologies that we take for granted today. Twenty years ago, individual seat-back screens, inflight connectivity, and even mood lighting were perceived as novel innovations; but now in the last ‘teen’ year of the century, these are increasingly seen as part and parcel of the travel experience.
As we make headway into the next decade, Asia Pacific is expected to see the first truly digitally native generation, Generation Z (born between 1997-2012) become the largest group of air passengers of over 450 million, surpassing the Millennials by 41 per cent, according to “Sky High Economics - Chapter Three: Capitalising on Changing Passenger Behaviour in a Connected World”, a recent study from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in association with Inmarsat.
As true digital natives, Gen Zers have been accustomed to growing up with the internet, social networks, and mobile systems – extending the same expectations to their travel experiences as well. Today, technology is advancing far beyond our expectations, underscoring opportunities for airlines to revolutionise more than just passenger interactions, but their operational efficiencies as well.
Disruptive technologies and their impact on airline operations
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
According to Max Tegmark, President of the Future of Life Institute, “Everything we love about civilisation is a product of intelligence, so amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilisation flourish like never before”. Indeed, when Artificial Intelligence (AI) was first introduced, it primarily involved smart machines performing simple tasks like solving mathematical problems, but this has come a long way since.
In the aviation industry today, AI is expected to enable predictive maintenance for airlines through creating better insights and savings from data. AI will also manifest itself in areas like sophisticated chatbots offering support and vastly improved translation technology, changing the way carriers interact with their passengers. For example, early in 2019, AirAsia introduced AI chatbot AVA (AirAsia Virtual Allstar), as part of an update to its website and mobile apps. AI in aviation was worth $152.4m in 2018, but it comes with no surprise that with growing take-up rates, it is expected to be worth $2.2b by 2025.