Air Canada embraces an aspiring travel distribution platform powered by blockchain

Canada’s largest airline Air Canada has committed to participate in a new blockchain-based  and dencentralised open source travel distribution platform under development by Swiss startup Winding Tree.


Summary:

  • Air Canada will participate in a new blockchain-based  and dencentralised open source travel distribution platform from Winding Tree;
  • The Canadian flag carrier will be the first in North America to enter into a partnership with Winding Tree;
  • The airline says Winding Tree aims “to address challenges” to new entrants in travel distribution “by creating a platform that provides greater access to inventory”;
  • Winding Tree was founded in 2017, and already Air France-KLM, Air New Zealand and Lufthansa are working with Winding Tree in some manner.

The airline stated Winding Tree aims to address challenges to new entrants in travel distribution by creating a platform that provides greater access to inventory from suppliers.

“Air Canada recognises the importance of leveraging this next generation technology. We plan to integrate Air Canada’s Direct Connect API with Winding Tree’s public blockchain platform, giving blockchain-savvy users the ability to access our content directly from the source,” said Keith Wallis, Director of Global Product Distribution for Air Canada.

Winding Tree stresses it is not another app or online travel agency (OTA), rather it facilitates the creation of hundreds of thousands of new players to build sites or apps. Winding Tree uses the Lif token to facilitate transactions on the platform. The token, which contains ARI data on inventory is also used as currency.

Winding Tree was founded in 2017, and Air France-KLM recently agreed to test the company’s travel distribution technology built on blockchain. Other airlines that have a relationship with Winding Tree include Air New Zealand and Lufthansa.

Air Canada is Winding Tree’s first airline partner in North America, and the airline has long been a proponent of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

In late 2017 Air Canada executives stated the company was using AI powered models to deploy new customer fare sales, and upgrade emails that were 40% more engaging than traditional offers.

At that time the airline stated there were further opportunities to exploit AI to improve revenue management. “It’s machine driven, and it gives us the data to be able to do pricing in a more compelling fashion…”, said company CFO Michael Rousseau.