Etihad’s Partnerships Driving Digital Transformation In Aviation

by Chantal Welch
Etihad Airways A330 200

Etihad has announced pioneering technology developments as a result of its partnerships with leading technology companies Microsoft and 15below. The new initiatives are designed to build customer confidence, boost recovery and drive digital transformation within aviation.

Etihad Airways A330

Etihad Airways A330 © Nick Preston via Landor

Aviation partnerships: beneficial to brands and passengers

Partnerships are beneficial for airlines, brands, and passengers. Successful partnerships bring brands together, help them reach new audiences, offer something new and exciting for customers and enhance the perception of the brand. Partnering gives brands access to a wider range of expertise for different parts of their businesses. Most importantly, during the pandemic, strategic partnerships can help brands accelerate growth.

Etihad has a wide range of industry partnerships around the world, despite not being part of an airline alliance. Its airline partnerships have been established through investments and codeshare agreements. Its partners within aviation are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Air Serbia, Air Europa, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, ANA, American Airlines, Asiana  Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Brussels Airlines, Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, GOL, Gulf Air, Hainan Airlines, Korean Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Royal Air Maroc, SAS, and SriLankan Airlines. It’s not just airlines Etihad partners with, it’s also hotels, rental cars, shops, leisure and lifestyle brands, banks, and football teams.

Etihad passenger boarding

Etihad passenger boarding © Etihad Airways

Pioneering technology

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 began impacting customer demand, Etihad has been at the forefront in finding innovative ways to drive passenger confidence and industry recovery. It has focused on pioneering touchless technology, with two notable projects aimed at allowing passengers to maintain control of their own documents and to ensure a seamless journey through the airport.

For its first project in 2020, Etihad partnered with Australian company Elenium Automation, developers of self-service touchless technology that can identify potential illness. Etihad introduced touchless self-service devices at Abu Dhabi Airport, which screen passengers for Covid-19 by accurately evaluating their temperature, heart, and respiration rate. The solution can notify Etihad staff or connect the visitor to a remote healthcare worker. This enables Etihad to maintain a positive customer experience.

Jorg Oppermann, vice president hub and midfield operations, Etihad Airways, said:

“We are testing this technology because we believe it will not only help in the current Covid-19 outbreak, but also into the future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel and thus minimising disruptions. At Etihad we see this is another step towards ensuring that future viral outbreaks do not have the same devastating effect on the global aviation industry as is currently the case.”

Passenger waiting to board

Passenger waiting to board © Jeshoots.com via Unsplash

Digital transformation to enhance the passenger experience

For its next project, Etihad partnered with the supplier of the world’s leading automated passenger notifications platform 15below. Etihad identified enhancements to its current process that enable self-serve, touchless processing of the boarding pass. These enhancements give passengers much greater control of their documents, promoting a smoother airport experience.

This month, Etihad announced an upgrade of the airline’s communication system, addressing the ever-changing travel requirements caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Etihad’s reservations system now links directly to the 15below platform, enabling the airline to automatically communicate with passengers using personalised, real-time data from the booking. This ensures passengers have all the information they need, promising a smooth, stress-free travel experience without delays, queues, and human interaction at the airport.

Frank Meyer, Chief Digital Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said:

“Etihad is a global player in driving digital transformation within the aviation industry. As travel restrictions ease, it’s our responsibility to pursue innovative solutions that will enhance the travel experience for our guests.  Ensuring wellness is part of the redefined customer journey has become an integral part of our business and our partnership with 15below has been instrumental in making this a reality.”

Microsoft office

Microsoft office Vancouver © Matthew Manuel via Unsplash

Microsoft AI technology

Another new Etihad project initiated this month is with Microsoft, a longstanding partner. Etihad Airways and Microsoft have continuously collaborated to solve business challenges through the Etihad AI Academy Powered by Microsoft and the airline’s innovation lab.

For this project, the Finance and Digital, Technology and Innovation teams worked with Microsoft to transform their finance operations. Through harnessing the power of Microsoft AI, Etihad can ensure that the process of identifying fraudulent or incorrect payments to suppliers becomes more efficient and accurate.

Bhavesh Shivshanker, Head of Financial Operations at Etihad Aviation Group said:

“Etihad partners with leading technology companies such as Microsoft to employ innovative solutions to further advance the company’s status as a world-class airline. This automation initiative is an important milestone for Etihad Finance, as we advance improved efficiency, increase cost optimisation and enhance the overall finance operations of the company.”
Etihad A380

Etihad A380 © Flight Chic

For many airlines like Etihad, partnerships are key to their survival and recovery. With more cross-sector industries joining forces as a result of the pandemic, it’s a win-win for aviation, brands, and passengers with the innovations and solutions that have been achieved so far. Strategic partnerships with global industry leaders have transformed aviation and enabled it to accelerate positive change, improve the passenger experience and reach people on a worldwide scale like never before.

What are your thoughts on Etihad’s partnerships? Who would you like to see airlines partner with? Let us know in the comments below.
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