Thales and Airfree are partnering to introduce an e-Commerce platform to extend the airport duty-free shopping experience into the cabin, aiming to bring a new revenue opportunity to airlines.

The companies argue the Airfree marketplace will be the first to offer duty-free services with ground fulfillment at more than 350 airports worldwide, expanding the current onboard offering from a limited catalogue to thousands of products and new product categories.

Launched exclusively with Thales, the company said the service will make its commercial debut with an airline by the end of the year.

Through the platform, airport offerings are incorporated into a single marketplace and made available through the in-flight entertainment system on seatback and personal electronic devices. This then means passengers can browse and purchase items from an extensive airport offering, with product choices tailored to the passenger route. Passengers can also use airline points for payment or benefit from exclusive offers based on frequent flyer status.

Sylvia Arndt, vice-president digital services Thales InFlyt Experience said: “We are excited to partner with Airfree for the onboard duty free marketplace, enabling airlines to grow in-flight revenue and transform the shopping experience for their passengers.”

The companies say the Thales/Airfree airline-branded marketplace would reduce “or eliminates” logistics and weight for traditional onboard duty-free items, as well as reducing time and energy spent by the crew, while also increasing passenger choice and airline revenue.

With proprietary bandwidth optimisation technology, the Airfree platform reduces satellite data consumption compared to traditional technologies.

Etienne de Verdelhan, CEO of Airfree called the partnership “a great step in the development of our startup” adding that the two companies have strong synergies and can “propose a model that has a high value for the airlines.”

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