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Growing roles for AI and virtual reality in airlines

Artificial intelligence (AI), virtualisation and natural language are among the technology areas that will grow in importance for the airline industry, an International Airlines Group (IAG) executive predicts.

IAG director of strategy Robert Boyle, speaking at the Future Travel Experience Europe (FTE Europe) conference in Dublin this week, said digital has gone from being novel to normal.

IAG will soon trial a SITA system in which a passenger’s face scan is used to get through airport processes in place of a boarding card and passport. US carrier JetBlue Airways is the launch customer for the technology and IAG will soon follow.

Boyle also predicted a future in which airbridges, as well as baggage and cargo loading and sorting, are fully automated. Likewise, once driverless cars gain public acceptance, this could pave the way for unmanned commercial flights.

In the nearer term, he said that the European Union’s decision to abolish mobile roaming charges has huge implications for airlines. “Previously, we couldn’t rely on passengers being digitally connected on flights or down route,” he said.

Read the full ATW story >


Laptop bans lifted

Turkish Airlines on Thursday became the latest airline to have the US ban on in-cabin electronics lifted with immediate effect. Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates have all had the restriction eased while Saudia said it expected to follow.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad was the first to get the green light for passengers to resume travelling with laptops and other electronic devices in the cabin after clearance by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As other carriers also qualified, the department said the airlines concerned “have initiated the process for lifting the ban by alerting the TSA (America’s Transportation Security Administration) they are ready to comply with the enhanced security measures".

Read full BT News story >


ICAO: Terrorism and cyberattacks are a ‘significant concern’

ICAO secretary general Fang Liu has told the United Nations (UN) counter-terrorism committee that threat and risk information must be shared to overcome “significant concern” of terrorism against aviation.

“Foreign terrorist fighter movements, landside attacks, threats posed by insiders and airport staff, and the use of increasingly sophisticated improvised explosive devices are all significant concerns,” Liu said, “and our expanding reliance on information technology in all areas of aviation—from navigation to communications to security—exposes us to cyber threats”.

Liu made the comments at a special UN Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) meeting on July 7.

In September 2016, UN Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 2309, which addresses international cooperation on civil aviation security.

ICAO has come up with a Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP) and Global Risk Context Statement, but Liu stressed that national security authorities need access to current threat and risk information. She said “challenges persist” over the sharing of this information.

Read the full ATW story >


Editorial: Don’t let US majors chip away at Open Skies
By Karen Walker - Editor-in-Chief at Air Transport World

The single largest benefit to airlines and consumers that has occurred in the history of commercial air transportation began as a concept that crystallized into the US model known as Open Skies.

Twenty-five years and more than 100 agreements since the signing of that first pact between the US and the Netherlands, Open Skies has become a model around the world for air service liberalisation.

The positive impact that liberalisation has on aviation markets is huge and measurable. A survey by InterVistas shows that liberalisation spurred a 16 percent growth in traffic between nations in 2016.  This percentage hike is consistent in aviation markets that are opened up, with traffic growth typically averaging 12 percent to 35 percent.

For a classic before-and-after example, look to the US-Japan market. An InterVistas case study shows that between 2000 and 2009, traffic in this market dropped 33%—by almost 5 million. After the 2010 Open Skies agreement, and despite slot constraints and a global recession, seven new nonstop routes were created, frequency increased by 60 flights per week, and traffic rebounded to its highest level in five years.

Air service liberalisation stimulates markets and encourages new city pairs. It allows for innovation and new, low-cost entrants. Open Skies’ fifth and seventh freedoms allow cargo carriers to open new hubs, improve the supply chain and lower delivery costs. Liberalisation allows the market to grow and creates millions of jobs.

Read the full ATW story >


Iran Air appoints first female CEO

Outgoing Iran Air chairman and MD Farhad Parvareshhas confirmed to ATW that Farzaneh Shrafbafi will become the first female CEO of the Iranian flag carrier.

“Mrs. Shrafbafi is the first lady who will guide Iran Air. She is now head of the company and the assignment as CEO will be done in a month after formalities,” Parvaresh told ATW.

Shrafbafi holds a PhD in aerospace engineering and previously served on Iran Air’s board of directors. 

According to the Associated Press, Iran President Hassan Rouhani, who was re-elected earlier this year, has appointed women to a number of management posts, breaking with tradition in the Islamic republic.

Read the full ATW story >

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