FTE APEX Virtual Expo Daily Experience – December 9, 2020

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DECEMBER 10, 2020

Expo Daily Experience

ALL TOGETHER NOW An industry unites in adversity

One.Tray To Rule Them All Read more on page 6


Trust in your Team: Keynotes from Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss and More

ARINC Evolution, Kontron’s ACE Flight Addition

Read more on page 3

Read more on page 9


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Daily Experience


Data Shows Travelers Are Happy in Airports Data compiled by HappyOrNot, a company responsible for the mood-rating kiosks found at 160 airports in 36 countries, indicate travelers are surprisingly happy to be in airports. The company said people are more likely to push the “delighted” or “very happy” buttons, rather than the one indicating they’re merely


CEO Confidential Day Two of Virtual Expo brought lots of wisdom, insight and leadership to the table in a series of “fireside chats.”

Bradley D. Tilden CEO, Alaska Airlines

Shai Weiss CEO, Virgin Atlantic

On financing throughout the pandemic:

On what he’s learned from his team during COVID-19:

On vulnerable airports:

For liquidity, a billion and a half dollars is what we target. What we said to ourselves is that we want to borrow as much money as we possibly can and as soon as this is over, we want to pay it all back. We don’t want to spend it. The idea is to raise the liquidity to give us a sort of ‘war chest,’ but keep it in the bank. We’ve largely done that: our adjusted net debt, so debt minus cash, is maybe down by a couple of hundred million dollars, which given our balance sheet, is something we’re super proud of. We think that in three- or fourmonths’ time, our adjusted net debt will not have grown since the onset of COVID.

These are clichés in business, but you see them manifest so dramatically during this type of crisis. If there is a clear mission and purpose, the bus knows where to go [particularly] if you have the right people on the bus ... sitting in the right seat on the bus. I’ve learned how to trust every single member of my team to do whatever was needed … in an agile way, report only when necessary, consult when necessary. Ultimately, my sense of trust has risen to a new level.

Even without COVID, in regular operational times, 70 percent of airports are loss-making. Our expectation is that with the crisis close to 200 airports are close to bankruptcy because they’re simply without any cash. Traffic is down 90 percent and there are still fixed costs … We are very much lobbying for the European Commission to reconsider the program for regulations for 2021 and 2022. Unfortunately, with or without COVID we see consolidation in Europe – less airlines operating. We have strong airline partners, but fewer airlines means more negotiation power on where to place aircraft and where to grow capacity. That is a dilemma for many airports, so directives that put additional economic pressure or any additional competition elements would be the wrong way to go in the next three years.

Ben Smith CEO, Air France-KLM On the importance of sustainability:

The greatest pressure … is from within. A big majority of our employees want to work for companies they can be proud of. They all have kids and this is a major subject for them. They don’t want to be ashamed to work in an industry that … has a strong negative view from the public, so we have a very strong push from within to do everything we can to reduce our environmental impact.

Justin Erbacci CEO, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) On the importance of innovation:

People automatically think innovation means you have to spend a lot more money; that’s not the case. There’s innovation in processes and policies and … just reimagining the way that you do everything. When I came [to LAWA in the role of] chief innovation officer, the first thing I told people was: I hate that title. It made it seem like our group was the only one that was supposed to be innovative in the organization. [Now] we make sure that everybody pursues innovation in everything that they do. We’ve been working on that for the last four years and I really do believe that that’s helped us to be able to move faster. Expo Daily Experience

Jost Lammers CEO, Munich Airport and president, ACI Europe

Virtual Expo Connection

Catch all the CEO Fireside Chats held during Virtual Expo in the event environment until January 8, 2021.



Say Cheese! For a bit of fun and to help beat the dreaded “Zoom fatigue,” we went on a screen grabbing spree during the sessions and presentations at FTE APEX Virtual Expo. Have a look and see if you can spot your friends and colleagues. Are their mouths open? Eyes closed? Heads cut off? Hey, don’t judge; it’s been a crazy year!


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The Highlight Reel News and products to know from exhibitors at FTE APEX Virtual Expo by JUSTIN MULFATI, MARYANN SIMSON and STEPHANIE TAYLOR

Airport Experience: One.Tray and One.Clean Already used by 32 airports around the globe, One.Tray is a turnkey service that provides recyclable, ultralight, customizable and RFID-enabled security trays to airports free of charge through advertising partnerships. One.Tray manufactures and supplies the required number of trays to optimize operational efficiency and even replaces or maintains the trays at no cost to the airport. In response to COVID-19, the company has also developed One.Clean; a UVC based tray sanitization system that works as a standalone unit but can also can be retrofitted into any security check tray return system.

Entertainment & Connectivity: LiFi Latécoère’s Light Fidelity (Lifi) technology is edging closer to takeoff. After partnering with Air France in 2019 to power a proof-of-concept, onboard online video game competition, the aeronautics company says it will be able to offer its functional, integrated system by the second quarter of 2021 with all qualified parts. With its resilient modular backbone, Latécoère’s LiFi can meet data transmission needs of business jets with just a few passengers all the way up to large commercial aircraft. Benefits include zero latency video transmission, easy installation and increased safety to passengers and crew thanks to the lack of electromagnetic fields typically generated by Wi-Fi signals.

In-Flight Service: Cockpit, Passenger and Crew Kit Global Inflight Products is no newcomer to the business of onboard sanitation. The Seattle-based in-flight amenities provider’s Cockpit Kit is purposefully built with cleaning in mind. It includes two pairs of vinyl gloves, two face masks, a 16-oz bottle of disinfecting spray and four packs of alcohol wipes – all sealed in a cellophane bag. The company has created specific hygiene kits for crew and passengers as well, but can also be completely customized. 6

Expo Daily Experience


Aircraft Interiors: HeiQ Viroblock Plane Talking Products is bringing HeiQ’s Viroblock to the cabin. The British company is offering a range of personal protective equipment, headrest covers, sprays and even fogging products that use HeiQ’s laboratory-engineered treatments meant to up the anti-viral protection on textiles. Bonus: By purchasing a suite of HeiQ Viroblock products and services at a certain volume, airlines obtain the right to use the Viroblock branding to market their sanitization efforts.

In-Flight Service: Sustainability Promise In an industry first, amenities provider FORMIA is making a sustainability pledge. During Virtual Expo, it shared more about its strategy to make all in-flight socks and eye masks from 100 percent recycled PET fabric. This means that the virgin polyester normally used to make these accessories will be changed to recycled PET and will carry the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification. To drive the initiative forward, FORMIA is absorbing the additional cost of the material, rendering the move cost neutral for airlines and beneficial for supporting their sustainability efforts.

Airport Experience: SMARTRA

Entertainment & Connectivity: IFEData

Japanese startup T&TIS aims to take the guesswork out of airport transit times with its SMARTRA service. The solution uses a system of checkpoints that can be placed around a facility to collect real-time data about things like waiting times at the security line or how long it takes to transfer from one terminal to the next. Passengers for instance can “scan” the checkpoint using their NFCequipped device soon after exiting the plane and then again when arriving at the gate of their next flight, giving other SMARTRA users the ability to plan their transit and avoid congested areas of the airport. Check-ins can also be collected by camera, bar code scan or even beacon – depending on the environment. Like the navigation app WAZE, SMARTRA uses a system of redeemable points to incentivize the desired crowd-sourcing behavior. The company also sees a benefit to operators, providing them with a better understanding of how people move through the airport. For instance, retailers could use the information to allocate staff and create targeted promotions for travelers.

Software company IFEData is on a mission to overcome disparate data and workflows by consolidating and automating them. Its web app, introduced to distributors, airlines and content service providers at Virtual Expo, is an à la carte service that allows customers to pick and choose the content that benefits them most and gives content owners and licensors the option to add their own titles. It is a neutral platform for offering titles, publicity and data – automating that data’s journey to wherever it needs to go.

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STAYING CONNECTED HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT The European Aviation Network is the fastest inflight Wi-Fi in Europe. Improving the experience in the air through contactless service innovations, such as ordering food and drinks, streaming content or communicating with crew chat-bots, helps passengers feel more comfortable and confident throughout their flight.

Additionally, EAN can drive operational efficiencies across fuel and maintenance, helping you meet targets and support future growth. As airlines offer increasingly more digitalised experiences, EAN will be a catalyst that helps lead to a sustainable recovery.

It can also help you unlock valuable ancillary revenue from e-shopping and advertising. Find out more at europeanaviationnetwork.com


Kontron Launches Smallbut-Mighty Modem Global connectivity in a small package is what Kontron’s newest modem offers airlines of all stripes. But don’t let its size fool you: The ACE Flight 2780 Auxiliary Modem Unit won’t come up short as needs increase. It’s compatible with the ARINC 791 and 792 Ka-band and Ku-band satellite standard, slated to be approved next year, for instance. And the AMU standard allows scaling from single modem connectivity up to a multi-modem system, which enables roaming between multiple global networks. The integrated SATCOM modem card supports high throughput aircraft connectivity to several networks around the world. RJ McLaren, Avionics System product manager for Kontron is excited to provide the industry with “the smallest form factor auxiliary modem solution.”

Malaysia Airlines Adds Traditional Music During Boarding

AERQ Expands Options with Mid-Sized OLED Screens from JOLED

Malaysia Airlines is bringing passengers a sense of place from the moment they step on the plane. In line with the airline’s Fly Malaysia campaign, focused on promoting the beauty of Malaysia to the world, an original, three-minute soundtrack will greet passengers as they board. Co-produced by the airline’s new in-flight content service provider, Aeroplay Entertainment, the track features a mix of traditional string instruments, a Malay hand drum called Kompang, and an ensemble of percussive instruments originating from Java called Gamelan. “Keeping in mind the impact of boarding music as part of the passenger experience, we have composed a refreshing and upbeat track which is distinctively Malaysian,” says Prakash Johari, CEO and managing director, Aeroplay Entertainment.

AERQ is partnering with JOLED to secure “mid-sized” OLED screens for its onboard offerings as it seeks to redefine the in-cabin digital display experience. These new monitors will complement the 55” and 65” sets from LG Electronics already in AERQ’s portfolio. JOLED and AERQ will work together to present a variety of touchpoints utilizing medium-sized OLED displays, such as cabin digital signage and an in-seat system. Naoto Hikichi, executive officer, head of Business Division I at JOLED believes that OLED technology is ideal for the cabin, which places restrictions on installation space and weight.

Expo Daily Experience



Latitude Aero Expands Capacity with New Facility

Gogo’s Latest AVANCE Software Update Brings Fresh Content, Moving Map for BizAv Business jets with the Gogo AVANCE in-flight connectivity product received a recent upgrade. The company announced a new release of its Gogo IFE solution, dubbed Vision 360, including integration of FlightPath3D’s moving map solution. For an additional fixed monthly fee, jet owners can add up to 150 streaming movies, digital magazines and newsfeeds from Bloomberg to their flights. The upgrade can be activated over-theair, with no system downtime. “Vision 360 is an important next step in our commitment to deliver the best in-flight connectivity and entertainment experience to business aviation,” says Sergio Aguirre, Gogo’s president.

Immfly Announces Strategic Partnership with Tourvest Retail Services

Euronews Debuts Content Subscription Packages Euronews is offering its airline customers three new subscription packages for a flat monthly fee. The first package, “SVOD,” provides unlimited access to Euronews video on-demand episodes in 12 languages. Topics include: business, culture, sports, science, travel and lifestyle. The second package, “Nearly Live News,” encompasses parttime broadcasting, news bulletins, M/RSS feeds and Euronews’ Daily Digest. Finally, the “Live Content” subscription package comprises access to 12 Linear 24/7 channels focused on a mix of global, European and regional news, that can be delivered via multiple methods depending on a client’s needs. These new packages have been designed to provide airlines with full control over their usage of the content in all formats – they have all rights for both airline lounges and on the aircraft – as well as control over the duration of the playing cycles. 10

Latitude Aero is moving to a new climate-controlled 100,000-square-foot facility at the same location as its current headquarters near Piedmont Triad International Airport in North Carolina, doubling its production capacity. The facility will allow the company to pursue OEM fabrication and install a sewing studio for custom seat refurbishment, and will create 15 to 20 new jobs. “By operating a facility roughly double the size of our current operation, we’re now able to take on larger projects, run production simultaneously, and provide new capabilities to our clients,” explains Kelvin Boyette, Latitude Aero’s president and CEO. The new facility is expected to be fully operational with EASA certification by mid-December 2020.

Immfly has integrated its connected cabin digital services and entertainment platform with omnichannel retail technology from Tourvest, providing air and rail operators with new ancillary revenue opportunities. “This collaboration demonstrates our platform’s agility to interface with airlines’ key strategic partners, to deliver industry-leading digital services,” says Maria Cardenal, Immfly’s vice-president, Product and Digital Services. Michelle Green, head of Business Development, Strategy & Innovation for Tourvest adds: “We have been developing our digital strategy both for customer-facing solutions as well as backoffice functionality. Our API stack ensures a seamless end-to-end approach that drives customer satisfaction as well as, critically, the integration into the back-of-house supply chain and waste management elements.”

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Rapid Retrofit Bluetooth Audio Simple integration to upgrade your existing Inflight Entertainment system



E : innovate@ifpl.com








w w w . Fu t u r e Tr a v e l E x p e r i e n c e . c o m


Apex Honors The 2021 Four/Five Star Official Airline Ratings™ Recipients Closing out two days of diverse Auditorium sessions at FTE APEX Virtual Expo, the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) announced the recipients of the industry’s most anticipated honor, the Official Airline Ratings™ and presented the APEX CEO Lifetime Achievement Award to Delta Air Lines’ Ed Bastian.

Of his CEO Lifetime Achievement accolade, Bastian said: “I don’t deserve all the credit for the great performance and success we’ve had. It truly is all 75,000 of our colleagues at Delta that are creating a brand that is not just an airline brand, it’s a service experience. There’s a culture here; there’s a fabric of protection: protecting our values, protecting our people, protecting our customers and protecting our future.”

The APEX Official Airline Ratings™ is the first airline rating program based solely on certified passenger feedback gathered through APEX’s partnership with TripIt from Concur, the world’s highest-rated travel-organizing app. Using a five-star scale, nearly one million flights have been rated by passengers across nearly 600 airlines from around the world and independently certified by a professional external auditing company.

The APEX Official Airline Ratings™ recognizes airlines in four categories · · · ·

Global Airlines Major Airlines Regional Airlines Low Cost Carriers

Congratulations to the 2021 four- and five-star Airlines!

For the full listing of 2021 ratings and to learn more about APEX Official Airline Ratings™, click here. Expo Daily Experience



It’s a Sprint Finnair’s Esamatti Vuolle reveals the methodology behind his team’s success on a panel highlighting pioneering digital case studies at Virtual Expo. by HOWARD SLUTSKEN

Finnair’s agility and investment in the digital world – with a focus on its customers’ journey – has positioned the airline to manage its way into “the new normal,” says its head of Digital Commerce, Esamatti Vuolle. Three years ago, Finnair took “complete control and total ownership of the whole end-to-end customer journey” on its digital channels, he explains, delivering 250 features and 75 product releases in 2019 alone. To keep up this pace of innovation long-term, Vuolle’s department adheres to a rolling 12-week planning cycle broken down into two-week development sprints. “That is one of the keys to our success – that we work in short cycles.” This methodology allows Finnair’s digital team to react and be ready for new changes, he says. In March, when Finnair’s business plummeted due to COVID-19, it went into “survival mode.” Since then, Vuolle notes that the airline’s resiliency is because of the practices “we have built together during the past three years, which have shown their biggest value over the last [few] months.” Not only did his team quickly pivot to working in remote mode, but they also shifted social events – like guitar jamming sessions – into the online environment. “Everything we used to do in an offline world, we continued to do online.” Vuolle says it was important to build up mechanisms so that plans made while working remotely didn’t fall through the cracks. That included appointing a “sheriff” to keep the team focused on its priorities. 14

“We see what when we [encourage] co-creation and deeper cooperation, it [results in a feeling of] ownership. People are committed to doing things better, which ultimately drives their personal growth” he adds, explaining that this translates into the ability to recognize new opportunities that generate ancillary revenue – even, during the pandemic. “Relevance is really the key.” Recently, Finnair noticed that its customers showed an interest in its catering, so the airline began selling its business class meals in local grocery stores. “We have been able to bring the airline ... into people’s everyday lives.”

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Virtual Expo Connection

Find out more about Finnair’s process, as well as how Abu Dhabi International Airport is driving digital transformation and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is using digital technologies to elevate the customer experience during “Pioneering Digital Case Studies,” available until January 8, 2021


Identity Rules What will it take for biometrics technology to become commonplace and how is the pandemic affecting its adoption? Representatives from Delta Air Lines, Star Alliance, US Customs and Border Protection and more, share their thoughts during the two-part Biometrics Summit at Virtual Expo. by KRISTINA VELAN

The Masked Traveler

One of the major questions relating to biometrics during the pandemic is: Does facial recognition technology work when the traveler is wearing a face mask? “We successfully tested that,” says Raffie Beroukhim, senior vice-president and chief experience officer, NEC Corporation of America. The company has been working with Star Alliance on its biometric program, which recently went live at Munich and Frankfurt airports for select Lufthansa passengers. Enabling mask-wearing was an absolute must before the project could be rolled out. “The technology in [the Star Alliance biometrics service] is trained to overcome this mask issue [with] accuracies upward of 98%. We are, of course, continuously monitoring and improving this technology,” adds Kris Ranganath, chief technology officer, Advanced Recognition Systems and Digital Platform at NEC. Another question is whether health passports can be integrated into biometrics services. “We need to assure the receiving countries that the passenger is someone they are willing to accept,” says Isabelle Moeller, chief executive, Biometrics Institute. “We need to find solutions that allow the sharing of data but in a responsible way; health data is another layer of sensitive information … so it’s a massive challenge, but also an opportunity.”

Privacy Please

has gone into the programs that the CBP and TSA have created, and that we’ve contributed to, hits the mark striking a balance between ease of use and … doing it in a way that respects privacy and keeps customer choice as part of the equation,” says Greg Forbes, managing director, Airport Experience, Delta Air Lines. Forbes also highlighted that it’s important biometric screening solutions be consistent everywhere the airline flies. “A lot of the hardware that we’re looking at is with full-scale in mind.”

Obstacles, of Course

From top to bottom; Christian Draeger, Kris Ranganath, Raffie Beroukhim, Greg Forbes, Isabelle Moeller.

Data protection and privacy are ever-present themes in discussions around biometrics. “The privacy by design [approach] that


Expo Daily Experience

While biometric technology is gradually being implemented at airports across the world, Ranganath sees the pandemic as both a hhindrance to, and proponent of, its spread in air travel. “COVID has put [economic] stress on airports and airlines. The adoption rate [of biometrics] will be driven by return on investment. So [we are trying] to make it very affordable,” he explains. “[But] COVID has also reinforced the idea of frictionless travel. It has put emphasis on [biometrics] as an essential technology.” Christian Draeger, vice-president Customer Experience, Star Alliance, is optimistic however that biometric technology will be a priority for airlines and airports as the industry recovers: “I think we need to come back to a certain level of recovery that allows all of the stakeholders to unleash their investment agendas. We do have indications that once this happens, [biometrics will] be very high on the list of topics that they are ready to invest in.”


Case Studies

I Saw the Sign

Joint Effort

The Port of Seattle, which operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, established a set of guiding principles for public-facing biometrics in December Dave Wilson, director, Airport 2019, with the goal of Innovation, Port of Seattle prioritizing transparency and the protection of travelers’ privacy. One of the results of this process was a communications plan, including clear signage indicating where and how biometrics are being used at the airport. “We start off with information provided on our website,” explains Dave Wilson, director, Airport Innovation, Port of Seattle. “There’s signage at ticket counters … showing what the process is and the fact that it will be used [and] we’re using terminal paging in seven different languages. If [travelers] want to opt out, they can go to the customer service agent to find out how to do so.”

The TSA and CBP partnered on a series of pilots at JFK, LAX and ATL in 2017 and 2018 to demonstrate the feasibility of using biometric solutions to automate the The TSA’s Jason Lim travel document checker (TDC) system. The next pilot will take place in 2021 at DTW and will be open to PreCheck and Global Entry members traveling both internationally and domestically. “We have developed a joint data architecture between TSA and CBP … that takes the travelers’ consent [provided when checking in via the airline’s app], PreCheck status and biographic information, and sends it to CBP to pull the photo from the passport and save it for that passenger, for that day, for that location,” explains Jason Lim, manager, Identity Management Capability Manager, TSA.

Biometrics by the Numbers


55 million


Number of airports where CBP has deployed biometric exit technology

Number of travelers processed by CBP using facial biometrics

Number of imposters caught by CBP using biometric technology

20 minutes Time to board an Airbus A380 using biometrics

Source: Diane J. Sabatino, deputy executive assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, US Customs and Border Protection

Virtual Expo Connection

Parts 1 and 2 of the Biometrics Summit will be available in the event environment until January 8, 2021.

Expo Daily Experience



An Ounce of Prevention As the travel industry looks to rebound, what kinds of biosecurity protocols and procedures will support recovery in the near-term? A panel on “Biosecurity in the Post-Pandemic World” at Virtual Expo looks to recent case studies for clues. by JUSTIN MULFATI

When Shashank Nigam’s father wanted to visit him in Uganda during the Ebola crisis, despite his son’s reassurance that the region he was living in was safe, his father was nervous. “It’s this fear that hits travel; that hits demand,” says the founder and CEO of SimpliFlying. Few events have threatened the world’s biosecurity like the COVID-19 pandemic. “What can we do differently so that when the next pandemic comes, we don’t return to the old normal?” Nigam ponders. Within the current context, Bjoern Becker, senior director of Product Management Ground & Digital Services at Lufthansa, and Volkmar Weckesser, chief information officer at genetic testing firm Centogene, think they have solutions to address our biosecurity concerns. In June the two companies opened a walkin COVID-19 testing facility at Frankfurt Airport with the capacity to handle 20,000 analyses per day. The goal was to eliminate testing hurdles for passengers and make travel more appealing. “Testing is much better than quarantine,” says Becker. Facilities in Hamburg and Berlin airports soon followed, providing Centogene with key data on positivity rates per country that they can use to better focus screening efforts moving forward. Becker reports that 80 percent of Lufthansa’s customers felt safe and well taken care of during this turbulent period. Common Ground The much-discussed health passport is another vital part of the biosecurity equation, says Simon Talling-Smith, senior adviser at The Commons Project Foundation. The non-profit’s solution, called CommonPass, has been used on Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong–Singapore route, as well as on United’s London–New York flights, and will soon begin further trials with JetBlue, Lufthansa, SWISS and Virgin Atlantic. 18

Clockwise (from top): Shashank Nigam, Simon Talling-Smith and Bjoern Becker

Health passports bring the industry one step closer to establishing a vital trust framework through which governments can vet each other’s biosecurity activities and confidently reopen their borders. “That involves a standardized way of tracking and verifying that trust, and that’s the framework we’re trying to set up,” he adds. Talling-Smith expects a multitude of new health passports to appear on the market but is skeptical many will survive as standalone products. “I think it’s important that we establish a good level of interoperability and standardization so that these different solutions can talk to each other.” Ideally, they would all sync with entry requirements from one master database that governments will be tasked with keeping up to date, he adds. Expo Daily Experience

Until there is widespread vaccination – something that may take a couple of years, according to Weckesser – testing and health passports are the two best options in the travel industry’s toolkit to combat pandemic-related fears. And even then, says Talling-Smith, who has seen aviation bounce back from many crises over his years in the field, the travel experience won’t be the same. “You can expect the pandemic to leave its mark for years to come.” Virtual Expo Connection

Review the case studies presented at “Biosecurity in the Post-Pandemic World” until January 8, 2021

Bluebox Wireless Solutions Engage. Entertain. Earn.

Bluebox helps move your on-board services into your passengers’ hands – safely, digitally, wirelessly.

Phones, tablets and laptops are invaluable tools for engaging with passengers on board, especially now. Bluebox offers cost-effective wireless solutions for maintaining key elements of your on-board services – informing passengers of safety measures, entertaining them with in-flight magazines and other media, and facilitating on-board retail – delivering these via passengers’ devices. Virtual Seat Pocket delivers your safety information, magazines and menus digitally.

Virtual Trolley enables touch-free retail, allowing passengers to browse items, order, and pay directly from their own device, minimizing interactions with cabin crew. With over a decade delivering award-winning innovation to airlines around the world, Bluebox’s wireless platforms can help you offer on-board services safely. Want to engage, entertain and earn revenue via your passengers’ devices? Contact Bluebox.

Bluebox Wireless Solutions / info@blueboxaviation.com / www.blueboxaviation.com


Building Back Better Airlines are finding opportunity amid the COVID-19 downturn to take operations-focused connectivity projects off the back burner, further reinforcing the business case for IFC, say leaders from Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines. by SETH MILLER

For years suppliers have touted the operational benefits of in-flight connectivity solutions as a way to justify investment for airlines. But carriers were so focused on passenger needs that these opportunities took a back seat. Now, with passenger levels depressed, airlines are finally able to clear their development backlogs and deliver those crew-focused solutions.

as opposed to individual apps. By creating a single, common interface for crew-related functions, Cunningham says it will improve adoption and reduce confusion. Alaska is also piloting the integration of a medical advisory service for crew, allowing them to “communicate with experts on the ground and avoid costly diversions, while protecting passenger health,” he adds.

Internal Communications Alaska Airlines, for example, took a new look at how crew interact digitally in the air and on the ground. IFEC Program Manager Derrick Cunningham describes the pandemic as “a forcing function for us to continue innovating.” And from that innovation, the onboard chat feature was born. It’s “something that we had always wanted to do,” he says. By allowing the cabin crew to communicate digitally through their devices, they no longer have to waste time traversing the plane just to talk. Aside from the operational benefit, it’s also helping to keep both passengers and staff safe during COVID-19 by limiting the crew’s presence in the aisles. Gate agents can use the chat tool as well, which has improved the onboarding process, and there are plans to extend it to pilots and dispatchers in the future, says Cunningham. The feature is part of a collection of modules the airline is building

A Strong Foundation Tara Bamburg, Southwest Airlines manager, Inflight WiFi and Entertainment, shares that the airline is shifting focus to “foundational things.” One highlight on that front is an update to the onboard portal so passengers have access to sample arrival forms for a variety of destinations. The carrier used to include those in the in-flight magazine but as its network expanded, that became harder to maintain, requiring more support from flight attendants. The digital solution reduces the interaction in the aisles and helps ensure accurate answers. Bamburg also sees live chat with agents on the ground as a future use case. Anything that can “bring some power back to the customer, so they don’t feel that anxiety” is on the table, she says. Now that teams have the time to build these efficiency-boosting types of tools, they may just emerge as the key to in-flight connectivity profitability, while reducing costs at the same time.

The panel (from top, clockwise): Tara Bamburg, Derrick Cunningham, Intelsat’s Frederik van Essen and Moderator Maryann Simson.


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Investment Strategy With COVID-19, the aviation industry is scrambling to build new tools and processes that safeguard passengers. But scaling and delivering far-reaching value on innovations is more challenging than ever, a panel at Virtual Expo hears. by SETH MILLER

Panel participants (from top, left): Salah Makkouk, Abhi Chacko, Simone van Neerven, Daniel McCoy and Serdar Gürbüz

The aviation industry has been left with little choice: they must push ahead with innovation investments to get travel back online. But the pressure to deliver real-world returns doesn’t always jibe with the lengthy timelines many innovations require to prove their worth. Shrinking budgets are just one obstacle in what TSA Chief Innovation Officer Daniel McCoy calls the industry’s “steepest uphill battle.” McCoy agrees that the sheer size of his organization enables it to “drive down the overall implementation cost” of new tools, technologies and processes, and shares that the TSA is working on a wide variety of projects to “help startups realign their feature sets to serve security.” Yet, he did not offer much in way of concrete developments. Best Unseen Innovation teams in the travel industry typically focus on removing friction from the passenger experience. When successful, users are likely to not even notice, reveals Simone van Neerven, ex-head of innovation at Vueling and the founder of strategy firm reBel.la. “The best innovations are not even seen by customers,” even as they benefit from them, she says. This presents a major challenge when it comes time to measuring the results of all that work, making it sometimes difficult to justify the expense.


And because of that, companies should instead be more open to innovative change than a single innovation, suggests Salah Makkouk, Incubators and Accelerators manager at Emirates. For many in the industry, this means rethinking the way they operate. Only then can innovations be add to “pace at which we are able to deliver impact,” he adds. As Abhi Chacko, head of Enabling Technologies and Digital Innovation at Gatwick Airport, notes: “There is no point in doing innovation for the sake of innovation or entertainment. It has to make the organization more efficient or the passenger experience better.” Therein lies the risk of expecting too much, too quickly from innovation teams. There must be some opportunity to see the bigger picture and develop results.

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Virtual Expo Connection

Watch the entire recording of “FTE Debate: How can you effectively scale innovation to deliver wide-reaching value in the post-COVID-19 world?” until January 8, 2021.

We’re all ears. Industry feedback is critical to the advancement of our Inflight Connectivity community. Take this brief survey and tell us how you really feel. To say thanks, we’ll enter you to win an Amazon gift card. Be sure to stay tuned as we compile results and share them with you.

Take the survey at www.intelsat.com/fte-survey

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Suggested Viewing APEX Media Director Maryann Simson highlights the best of the best in the OnDemand Speaker Zone at FTE APEX Virtual Expo. by MARYANN SIMSON

Adapting Priorities JETBLUE TECHNOLOGY VENTURES Amy Burr, managing director, Operations and Partnerships at JetBlue Technology Ventures reveals the key industry areas where the venture fund is looking to invest: the seamless customer journey; next-gen operational and enterprise technology; the accommodation experience; loyalty distribution and revenue innovation; and sustainable travel. Burr also shares how the company is helping its startup partners navigate through the current crisis, how “innovation sprints” accelerate the development of great solutions and why proof-of-concept is so critical for new ideas. Want to know what JetBlue Technology Ventures sees in the crystal ball for post-COVID travel? Watch this one right to the end for insights into contactless tech, biometrics, personalized experiences and digital identity.

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How JetBlue Technology Ventures has adapted its priorities and the way it works with startups, scaleups and other industry stakeholders in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis

The Antifragile Brand SIMPLIFLYING

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The antifragile brand – How aviation can fly to a stronger post-crisis future

SimpliFlying CEO and airline marketing guru Shashank Nigam takes us out of the boardroom (or home office) into a verdant landscape flanked by mountains in the background for an entertaining presentation that’s about brand resilience. Using a whiteboard and props ranging from balloons to rocks (plus an unfortunate egg) Nigam explains his definition of an “antifragile” brand and how it is created through transformational thinking and a galvanizing culture. Tune in for insight into how airlines and industry-connected brands are coping with the pandemic in different ways, from staunch preservation (think Porter Airlines in Toronto and Lufthansa Group), to a focus on growth (Wizz Air in Europe and Qatar Airways), and of course, the holy grail of transformation, Air Asia and Express Spa, which went from offering pre-flight massages to rapid COVID tests. Essentially, you want to be the rock; not the egg.

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Cleared for Relaunch ONEWEB After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, telecommunications firm OneWeb has been resurrected with support from India’s Bharti Enterprises and the UK government. This has allowed it to proceed with its launch program. Its low-Earth-orbit (LEO) constellation, comprised of 588 satellites and 60 in-orbit spares, is slated to blast off in mid-December. In this video, OneWeb’s vice-president, Mobility Services, Ben Griffin outlines the firm’s progress and how it plans to support connectivity in aviation. “It’s really about seamless pole-to-pole coverage and the way our work is put together really ensures we can cover all those places with tons of capacity and performance.” says Griffin. “Low latency is so important, especially as the world moves toward 5G and 5G applications that really demand low latency. It’s going to become more and more important to have this available to passengers everywhere.”

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Bringing in-flight connectivity up to speed

Innovation in the Cardboard YVR

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Vancouver International Airport doesn’t just develop technology to support its own operations, it also sells this tech to other airports under the banner Innovative Travel Solutions. Its automated border control kiosk BorderXpress, for example, can currently be found in 45 locations around the world. When the pandemic caused airports to prioritize hygiene across all passenger touchpoints, YVR began a retrofit of these kiosks in April to enable gesture-based controls and automatic sanitation of the screens and keypads with UVC light after every use. The adapted kiosk, which has been in use since August, has been well-received by passengers, says Lynette DuJohn, the airport’s vice-president, Innovation, and chief technology officer. DuJohn uses part of her presentation to delve into some of YVR’s design process, which is refreshingly lo-fi. “When we want to see something in a physical, tangible way, we actually have some cardboard mock-ups built to the exact specifications that have been rendered by the design firm,” DuJohn explains. “Using cardboard lets us inexpensively and quickly prototype physical form, giving the whole team here a really good feel for what we’re building.”

How YVR has continued to embrace innovation amidst the global coronavirus crisis 26

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Common Ground On a panel at Virtual Expo, ACA and IFSA agreed on guidelines that would see members of each group reading from the same page when it comes to COVID-19 dos and don’ts. by MARISA GARCÍA

Aviation regulations can be a tangle of duplications and contradictions, but the goal is always to ensure passenger safety. With new requirements to deal with the coronavirus coming in on all fronts, the Airline Catering Association (ACA) and International Flight Services Association (IFSA) agreed to a harmonized set of guidelines for up-in-the-air catering based on best practices and updates from government authorities. One of the objectives was to ensure that the different COVID protocols laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and US Food and Drug Administration could be adapted to international guidelines. The document itself covers everything from catering and personnel management to purchasing, all of which have been affected by the pandemic. It addresses hygiene requirements for staff, food production and facilities, as well as communications standards that can help disseminate new preventive measures quickly as we learn more about current COVID-19 risks. 28

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Dive deeper into the process by watching a recording of “Inflight catering evolution post-COVID-19 according to ACA & IFSA,” available until January 8, 2021. The two groups developed a five-step approach to help craft this single streamlined document, which it plans to publish in January, says Ulrike Enneking, vice-president, Quality at LSG Group. They identified redundancies, carried out in-depth comparisons of their respective existing protocols and identified information considered too detailed for an international guideline. “We all know that it is not easy to find a common standard. Even in countries like Germany, the federal states have different approaches [to regulation],” says Enneking. Attempting to create standards on a global scale is even more challenging, she adds. That’s why ACA and IFSA opted to Expo Daily Experience

choose the best parts of their respective guides and see what could be applied internationally, Enneking explains. Agreeing to a harmonized protocol is essential to deliver safe and healthy passenger services. Still, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge the airline industry’s ability to adapt to rapid change, Enneking sees this new document’s foundation as an exercise in structured flexibility that helps ensure business continuity for crises to come. “I think nobody really could estimate how a pandemic would hit us,” Enneking says.” I would say this is a real-life exercise. We should take the learnings from it because we had to react very fast, put things together [quickly]…We can learn from what we have experienced, and then come up with a generic pandemic plan because viruses could always mutate. Hopefully, we will never go through another one, but still, we need to be prepared with a pandemic plan for the future.” IFSA will make the guidelines available online, free of charge.

Come and meet us in our booth and learn all about our wireless inflight retail environment Click here for the round table discussion video with Scoot, KrisShop and SATS-management

We bring wireless inflight retail to a whole new level


High Standard APEX approves new specification for HDR content on IFE systems during APEX TECH at Virtual Expo. by HOWARD SLUTSKEN



256 shades of color

1024 shades of color

While the debate between embedded IFE screens and onboard streaming to passengers’ personal entertainment devices continues, Siska suggests that those airlines contemplating a hardware upgrade should consider HDR-capable displays. “HDR just looks better.”

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In recent years high dynamic range (HDR) video has become a highly desired feature in the world of mobile phones and consumer television. Screens that can support this technology offer brighter images, a higher contrast and richer colors than standard displays. To bring this must-have into the cabin and seatback IFE systems, the APEX Technology Committee has approved a new technical specification for HDR: APEX 0415v3. “I’m sure that it’s not the first time that airlines have been asked for the latest and greatest in consumer electronics to be available on [a passenger’s] next flight. Consumers bring their own devices that

are already HD-compatible,” explains Juraj Siska, co-founder and CEO of IdeaNova Technologies, and a member of the committee’s HDR Working Group. The color imaging difference between standard dynamic range (SDR) displays and HDR is dramatic. SDR can display 256 shades of color, translating to about 16 million variations. HDR bumps that up to 1,024 shades, resulting in over 1 billion colors. Contrast, or its dynamic range, is also greatly improved and apparent on just about any screen size. “HDR-capable displays can show the peaks of brightness and depth of darkness at the same time,” says Siska.

On the Agenda With the cancellation of the in-person January 2021 APEX TECH conference, members of the APEX Technology Committee’s four working groups came together to deliver the same informative content during Virtual Expo. While the association still hopes to hold an in-person forum in June, says committee chair Michael Childers, it nevertheless plans to continue carrying on other virtual activities that drive the industry forward. “In 2021, we will likely look into future codecs and content management codecs like AV1 and VVC. It is [also] more important than ever that we continue to move IFE into the cloud,” he adds.

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Catch all APEX TECH sessions in the OnDemand Speaker Zone: An introduction to the APEX Technology Committee Measuring in-flight connectivity from a passenger perspective A report on the activities of ARINC The new APEX Specification for High Dynamic Range (HDR) content How can IFE become a part of the digital, global, advertising ecosystem? Language Metadata Tables (LMT) The emerging Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) market and its impact on IFE



Neutral Digital Creates 3-D Showroom for Virtual Expo by JUSTIN MULFATI

Immersive content company Neutral Digital delivered a high-tech experience at Virtual Expo dubbed the FTE Creative Showroom. Created in partnership with Future Travel Experience, the showroom placed delegates in the middle of a virtual exhibition booth with a holographic aircraft and deconstructed engine as eye-candy. Using keystrokes that are familiar to any video gamer, attendees could explore the 3-D animated space and discover services that cater to airports, airlines, aviation suppliers and travel hospitality providers. Highlights included examples of VR, AR and 360-degree video content. Aleksandra Korfanty, vice president of Sales at Neutral Digital, doesn’t mince words: the technologies that her company deals in “have had a longer adoption time frame in aviation than expected.” But in the COVID era, its offerings seem a lot more attractive. “Product launches, sales campaigns, customer engagement, virtual events, airport AR guidance, retail and more” can bring customer satisfaction, and ROI, to new heights during this otherwise tumultuous time, she says.

An example of this is an app Neutral Digital rolled out that allows shoppers at Copenhagen Airport to virtually try on lipstick and decide on a shade, even while wearing a mask. The company also launched a fully digital, contactless locker station as a delivery solution at the airport’s duty-free.

APEX EXPO Media Team

Al St. Germain Publisher

Maryann Simson Director

Jasmin Legatos Acting Editor

Kristina Velan Digital Editor

Stephanie Taylor Business Development Manager

Justin Mulfati Editorial Assistant

Nicolás Venturelli Art Director

Angélica Geisse Graphic Designer

Felipe Batista Nunes Production Manager

Robert Ronald Copy Editor


Marisa García, Seth Miller, Paul Sillers, Howard Slutsken


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Hear & Now While the two live days of Virtual Expo are over, the event will remain open until January 8, 2021. There’s still time to watch the sessions and share your thoughts on social!

“We are #DeltaProud of our CEO Ed Bastian for receiving the 2020 APEX Lifetime Achievement Award during

#FTEAPEXVirtualExpo!” Virginie Durr, global sales manager, Chairman’s Club,Delta Air Lines

“Don’t forget to view the APEX0415 working group presentations on APEX0415v3, “The HDR Update”. I made a video recording along with Juraj Siska, Michael Stattmann, Andy Rosen, with helpful postprocessing by Bryan Rusenko.” Phil Watson, chief engineer, Systems at Panasonic Avionics Corporation

“Day 2 is on!” Arnd Kikke, managing director, AERQ

Use the official event hashtag “FTE APEX Virtual Expo session: Technology & design innovation by APEX members to support the needs of the cabin of the future. Music to my ears, calls for using standard technologies, common platforms and cross system integration as key enablers. Also the clear point that incompatible technology efforts are hindering adoption.” Bryan Rusenko, Audio Video Engineering IATSE 695 at The Walt Disney Studios


to join the discussion!

“Great session today at the


discussing Biosecurity in the post-pandemic world: safety, security and sanitisation, including testing and contact tracing.” Simpliflying

“Aaron’s takeaway for 2020 is to use #COVID-19 as an opportunity to reset how we work together in aviation, get rid of boundaries. Use this very hard year to get out of silos and collaborate and experiment as an industry to find new solutions.” Elenium Automation Expo Daily Experience


PIONEER THE FUTURE We are looking forward to brighter skies ahead. We can’t wait to partner with you in the future, to make flying an experience that everyone looks forward to, again.

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