Air New Zealand to join the blockchain party

Air New Zealand recently announced that it would be partnering with Swiss travel platform Winding Tree, a blockchain-based distribution platform for the travel industry. Initially designed as B2B platform, Winding Tree will assist suppliers like Air New Zealand to distribute their inventory in a new and innovative manner.

According to Winding Tree, the travel industry is highly concentrated on the distribution front due to core inefficiencies of the internet. The need of a trusted party on the internet allowed intermediaries to concentrate the sector and raise the barrier of entry for new startups. In travel, consumer facing intermediaries often source their inventory from other B2B intermediaries causing double marginalisation and inflating the prices. Winding Tree is building a decentralised alternative, to the current concentrated travel distribution landscape, where anyone can access inventory directly from the suppliers.

Watch Winding Tree COO Pedro Anderson explore this and discuss the benefits the organisations could have on the travel industry:

Air New Zealand is apparently looking at a number of potential use cases for the distributed ledger technology including cargo and baggage tracking, retail, distribution and loyalty programme opportunities.

Air New Zealand Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan believes applications of blockchain are developing rapidly, and the airline is excited by the possibilities.

“With its built-in efficiency and security, blockchain has the potential to trigger huge innovation in travel, paving the way for new business models and collaboration. While we are still exploring its benefits, blockchain may offer a streamlined way to retail airfares and ancillary products alongside our current channels. In removing complexity from the sales chain, customers benefit from reduced transactional costs, and airlines benefit from swift and secure sharing of information”.

Winding Tree Founder and Chief Executive Officer Maksim Izmaylov said: “With a business-to-business marketplace system powering blockchain-based travel booking transactions, startups and companies will be able to gain direct access to travel service providers’ offerings. We are very excited to be partnering with Air New Zealand, as it’s an important step in bringing blockchain technology to the travel industry and creating opportunity for innovation”.

Air New Zealand has worked with a range of leading technology partners to introduce innovations to enhance the customer experience. These include its artificial intelligence backed chatbot Oscar, who helps customers with queries online and through the Air New Zealand mobile app, and its experiment with the social robot Chip, who assisted customers with check in at Sydney Airport earlier this year.