The New Generation of Disruptors Redefining Air Travel

by Chantal Welch
Airplane landing

AirAsia announced today the launch of its all-new product Asean Unlimited. It’s the latest innovation from the airline that’s part of a new generation of disruptors in aviation. The first-of-its-kind offering is accessible via the AirAsia Asean Super App and offers more than just travel product.

AirAsia A320

AirAsia A320 © AirAsia

Reshaping the Future of Travel

Now more than ever, the aviation industry is facing a defining moment and however you look at it, change is on the horizon. Digital, technological and engineering advancements are changing the world, in addition to the huge impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. These factors are reshaping every industry and in particular, aviation and the wider travel industry.

The recent challenges of the pandemic have seen these industries at their most vulnerable. Industry businesses have been forced to re-evaluate their strategies, pivot, and reinvent their offering as a result of changing customer needs and circumstances. An industry-wide overhaul is taking place and it’s clear that things will look very different in the future.

Aircraft parked at Boeing’s facility.

Aircraft parked at Boeing’s facility © tech Xplore

The New Generation of Industry Disruptors

A new generation of disruptors has emerged, as the industry faces the challenges of a changing world. From an engineering perspective, the return of supersonic travel and electric aircraft is becoming a reality.  The electric revolution has begun with Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Siemens, NASA, and EasyJet among companies developing electric and hybrid-electric aircraft as aviation explores new ways to go green.

All-Electric Air Mobility

All-Electric Air Mobility © Joby Aviation

With a number of big-name disruptors wanting to redefine the future of air travel, the future has arrived faster than expected. Uber and Joby Aviation are making “on-demand urban aviation” a reality. The Uber Elevate project aims to take ride-sharing to the skies, along with Uber Eats.

Robot at Munich Airport

Robot at Munich Airport © Munich Airport

From a technological perspective, aviation has been disrupted by AI-powered robotics and biometrics at airports, hybrid-aerial vehicles, and delivery drones. AI and machine learning have been adopted by airlines and airports to communicate with passengers, enhance operations, and most importantly, improve the passenger experience.

Digital Disrupting Aviation

It’s clear that airlines must become disruptors to survive a post-Covid era. Carriers need to add value and be visible to their customers, who are mostly online. They should no longer think like airlines when developing their offering and adopt a digitally-focused approach. For many prominent brands in the industry, digital is the new business model and digital disruption is transforming air travel.

Passenger waiting to fly inside airport terminal

Passenger waiting to fly © Mobile Airport Authority

Lufthansa has sought to pursue a path of digital transformation, rather than allowing outside forces to disturb operations. Lufthansa CEO, Carsten Spohr, stated that his goal was to make Lufthansa Group “the most digital aviation group”. Keen to reinvent the travel of tomorrow, Lufthansa’s Innovation Hub is developing digital solutions to make mobility and travel more sustainable. Going digital is an opportunity for airlines to bring together technology, data, personalisation, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, and fintech.

AirAsia began its digital transformation at the start of the pandemic. Notably, transforming its website where it sells tickets, to an e-commerce platform supporting local businesses. It has expanded its services beyond travel product, recently launching a food delivery service on its Asean Super App platform. By adapting its offering to survive the challenges of the pandemic, AirAsia is now more than just an airline, it’s a multifaceted business operation.

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group said:

“We’ve always been a disruptor and this time we are taking another unprecedented step to launch Asean Unlimited. AirAsia has expanded into a super app, offering much more than just travel products and now include e-commerce and fintech products. We have received so many positive responses and support for our new offerings, and we want to continue providing value to our customers.

AirAsia A320 neo

AirAsia A320 neo © AirAsia

Aviation disruptors have succeeded and thrived by remaining agile, incorporating digitalisation, and creating new partnerships. Despite the challenges the industry faces, the market is no stranger to disruption and the opportunities it brings.

What are your thoughts on the disruptors in the aviation industry? Let us know in the comments below

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