Flying high: the aviation start-ups set to take off in 2020

Varsha Saraogi 4 February 2020 (Last Updated February 4th, 2020 09:35)

An explosion in air traffic has caused an exponential increase in the number of start-ups sprouting across the globe with the aim of improving passenger experiences and solving the aviation industry’s biggest challenges. Varsha Saraogi takes a closer look at five start-ups looking to take off in 2020

Flying high: the aviation start-ups set to take off in 2020
Aviation tech startups due to take flight in 2020. Credit: Pixabay.

SKYdeals: bringing luxury brands to in-flight shoppers

E-commerce platform SKYdeals was launched by Julien Sivan in 2017 with an aim to offer inflight “shoppertainment” and “reinvent travel retail through onboard connectivity”.

The SKYdeals platform allows luxury brands to offer promotions to passengers who are connected to in-flight Wi-Fi. The promotions include flash sales valid only at specific times during flights, flyover offers triggered according to the country being flown over, real-time auctions that last for the duration of a flight, and group buying offers.

In addition, the platform allows customers to pick up their purchase at the airport upon arrival, or have it mailed to their home address.

The project debuted in January 2019 on short and long-haul Air France flights. Having joined the LVMH Group’s La Maison de Startups accelerator programme in September in 2019, the start-up is looking for prospective partnerships with LVMH’s Maisons, which include Rimowa, Veuve Clicquot, Christian Dior, Sephora and travel retail giant DFS.

The company also plans to collaborate with brands not currently present in duty-free to give them the opportunity to reach travelling shoppers.

TravelCar: a car-sharing app that helps fliers get paid to park

TravelCar was launched to help relieve stress for travellers in two critical areas - airport car parking and car rental. Its app allows travellers to reserve parking spots and rent out their vehicles when they are away for the benefit of other individuals travelling via the same airports.

Launched in 2013 by Ahmed Mhiri, the app offers low rental prices for holidaymakers - as much as 70% lesser prices than traditional rental companies, it claimed.

Alongside providing the marketplace for listing and renting cars, TravelCar manages the necessary insurance and support for drivers and all vehicles that have been rented through its system.

The company said that it already has one million users and partnerships with 5,000 car parks in over 60 countries, including airports in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, France, and Tunisia’s Tunis, Hammamet and Monastir.

Zamna: using blockchain to speed up passenger verification

Founded in 2016, Zamna uses blockchain to securely share passenger biometric data between airlines and government and security authorities, reducing the need for manual document checks.

As international border control becomes stricter, air travellers will need to be verified digitally and matched securely between parties. As a result, airport security processes will need to become more streamlined where passengers can travel seamlessly without repeated checks, the start-up said in a statement. By using its technology, airports can reduce the time needed for ID verification by up to 90%, it added.

Zamna, formerly known as VChain Technology, is built on triple-patented privacy-by-design proprietary algorithms designed to verify the accuracy of Advanced Passenger Information (API). The platform uses cryptographically sound signals to verify passenger identity.

The company is already working with Emirates Airlines and the UAE Government to identify transit passengers in Dubai. In addition, Zamna is an active member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s one ID working group.

Having raised £5m in seed funding in October 2019, it is now planning to roll out the technology for other transportation networks, such as the rail and maritime industry.

Baggage Nanny: allowing travellers to book curb-side baggage collection

Launched in March 2018, Baggage Nanny is an on-demand baggage pickup, storage and delivery service that aims to ensure travellers enjoy every minute of their vacation.

The company “babysits passengers’ bags” so they don’t need to lug them around after landing in a city,  it said.

CEO and founder of Baggage Nanny Crystal Browning said in a statement: “If you’re flying into town in the morning and you can’t check into your lodging until later in the day, you can drop your baggage here with us, and we’ll store them and deliver them to you when you’re ready to check-in.”

While many hotels hold a traveller’s bags before or after check-in, the traveller is still required to pick up those bags themselves before heading to the airport and therefore the delivery part of the business aims to relieve that stress, the start-up said.

Currently available at the San Diego International Airport, a traveller can make a reservation via the company’s website and drop off their bags at its kiosk for safe storage. Later, bags are delivered to the traveller’s destination of choice, at the time specified in the reservation.

Flio: an airport guide for travellers to make airports “enjoyable”

It’s common for travellers to get lost in an airport and Flio aims to be an “airport companion” when navigating through an airport.

The app provides users with real-time information on their flight departure times, hints and tips about 5,000 airports around the world, including maps, and Wi-Fi access.

In addition, FLIO serves as a gateway to the airport-retail audience, for instance, through push notifications with deals and coupons that can help lure customers into duty-free stores and restaurants.

Once installed and logged in, users can get notifications about the airport’s benefits which will get activated when they arrive at an airport.

The way it benefits airports is that retail brands and airport companies are able to determine what really drives passengers and how they can improve customer satisfaction. Based on this information, airports can boost engagement with their passengers.