SkyTeam’s new SkyLink Digital Spine technology to deliver enhanced customer experience as it prepares for CEO switch

Global airline alliance SkyTeam has reached a milestone in the development of advanced technology enhancing its current tech hub with new functionalities. Unique to SkyTeam and known as the SkyLink Digital Spine, the new functionality is intended to gradually facilitate the 20 members of the alliance to exchange seat maps and cross-sell ancillary products. Ultimately, it will help member airlines solve common travel pain points and offer customers greater simplicity and convenience when flying across multiple SkyTeam members.


Summary:

  • SkyTeam reaches key milestone with SkyLink Digital Spine, new alliance functionality that is intended to gradually facilitate the 20 members of the alliance to exchange seat maps and cross-sell ancillary products;
  • Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico will be the first to take advantage of new technology by gradually rolling-out seamless ancillaries programme from mid Jul-2018;
  • The new functionality forms the backbone of the alliance’s many progressive technical initiatives;
  • SkyTeam reveals that Kristin Colvile of Delta Air Lines to replace Perry Cantarutti as CEO of the alliance as latter returns to position at the US major.

The SkyLink Digital Spine aims to bridge the technology differences between alliance members, allowing for the format translation and exchange of messages. It will now make it possible for customers “to seamlessly book free seats, paid for seats and other ancillary products for all legs of their journey,” regardless of which SkyTeam member they booked their ticket with.

One of the benefits of the SkyLink Digital Spine is the seamless ancillaries programme and Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico will be the first to take advantage of the technology, gradually rolling-out the product from mid Jul-2018. Customers booking via each of the airlines’ website will be able purchase seat products at their own convenience, for their entire journey when flying on an itinerary with the two operators.

“SkyTeam is the alliance that listens to its customers and we continue to invest in innovative technology to make their travelling lives easier,” says Perry Cantarutti, SkyTeam’s current CEO. “The SkyLink Digital Spine is the latest in a long line of industry-leading initiatives that we have developed to solve travel pain points that frequent flyers come up against most.”

Designed in response to customer feedback and airline member input, the new functionality forms the backbone of the alliance’s many progressive technical initiatives. Application of The Digital Spine will be significantly expanded over the next three years, it says, and it expects more members will gradually start to use the platform on interline itineraries to, for example, capture and find baggage, provide seamless check-in, supply all boarding passes, show real-time availability of seats and enable the purchase of ancillary types with miles.

Mr Cantarutti spoke to CAPA TV on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transports Summit (WATS) in Sydney, Australia to explain more about the platform.

The development comes as research commissioned by SkyTeam identified a lack of seamless ancillaries as one of the top travel gripes for frequent travelers. Its research shows that 60% of travellers have experienced and been inconvenienced by a lack of a complete ancillary offering across multiple carriers, while two thirds of business travellers identified choosing a seat on all flights using a single website as being ‘very important’. It predicts that 7.5 million customers will benefit annually from the improved online experience offered by SkyTeam’s seamless ancillaries programme.

Already a successful year for innovations, 2018 has seen SkyTeam implement and develop several technology-driven products in response to its customers’ needs. These include SkyTeam Rebooking, officially launched in Jan-2018, and a technology solution designed to reduce inconvenience caused to customers by flight delays, cancellations, and diversions. Additionally, SkyTeam has also recently launched airport maps, designed to help customers find their away around SkyTeam’s global hubs, reducing stress and making the transfer process smoother.

Technology is a key area for the alliance and will be a major focus for its incoming CEO, Kristin Colvile who was announced as Mr Cantarutti’s successor with almost immediate effect. Her appointment was confirmed at a meeting of the alliance’s Governing Board in Sydney alongside the IATA AGM. She will takeover from Mr Cantarutti from 01-Jul-2018 as he returns to Delta Air Lines to take up the role of SVP of alliances.

Ms Colvile has over 25 years’ experience in the industry from leadership roles in numerous divisions of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines since joining the company in 1993. Most recently she led Delta’s cargo enterprise through a highly successful multi-year transformation.

Less than five hours after her appointment was ratified she spoke to CAPA TV about her position at the alliance and how she will work to build on the significant investment that SkyTeam has made into developing industry-leading technology.