Kicking off Passenger Experience Conference, Dr Joe Leader, CEO of APEX and IFSA highlighted the increase of ancillary revenues for passengers, whether in ultra-low-cost carriers or the high end airlines.

The launch of the Passenger Experience Week in Hamburg, brought executives together to discuss the challenges and trends around passenger experience and in-flight entertainment and connectivity.

“No matter the size of your airline… the details count,” said Joe Leader opening the conference and introducing Atlantic Airways CEO Johanna A Bergi.

Small but mighty

The Atlantic Airways CEO offered some insights into the airline “connecting the Faroe Islands to the world” with a three aircraft fleet (increasing to four next year). The airline offers a mixture of scheduled flights supplemented by charter flights and offers a one-class cabin, partly because as such as local airline “everyone knows each other” but also “we want everyone to have the same experience, or the possibility of the same experience.”

The airline has partnered with AirFi to offer in-flight entertainment to passengers and is also the launch partner for AirFi’s LEO in-flight connectivity offering.

Responding to how the relatively small airline manages with fewer resources compared to some of the larger airlines on the panel, Bergi said that though small, the airline has flexibility and can be fast, highlighting the offering from AirFi LEO as an example of their flexibility.

She added that technology is helping and as an airline, “We’re looking at what others are doing and we are cherry picking.”

Need for Speed

Dr Christian Langer, chief digital officer Lufthansa Group & MD Lufthansa Innovation hub looked across at the car industry and suggested we will see more cabin interiors modelled by car manufacturers in the future. He pointed to the differences passengers experience when they drive to the airport, then travel in an aircraft with different interiors and entertainment options, adding “we have to speed up the innovation cycles.”

The need for speed will also be necessary in working with start-ups. Langer spoke of the need to ensure IT systems are ready to adopt the creations of the start-ups as well as the need to be quick and keep up as “they won’t wait for you”. He added, “Speed is of the essence is the thing we have to learn as a traditional company to be ready to be on par with the start-ups.”

He also suggested that its not so much the financing start-ups require from airlines, but assets, customer access and the knowledge of how business is done in the industry.

New steps

Juha Jarvinen, executive vice-president of commercial, Virgin Atlantic Airways highlighted the airline’s plans to move from a leisure carrier to more of a combined leisure and business airline. He also discussed the acquisition of Flybe which he described as a “ready-made platform and already a sizeable airline on its own.” He suggested the acquisition will “dramatically change” Virgin Atlantic in terms of European networks and give the airline a new platform to grow from in Europe.

The airline will also be revealing the new cabin interior for its A350 aircraft next week, he hinted.

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