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AIR NEW ZEALAND HAS BEEN INNOVATIVE from its early days,
with the carrier being the first airline to boil water on an aircraft in
the 1940s, for example. "Flame, water, air, sea is not normally a good
combination but we are out there as Kiwis, on the edge," Christopher
Luxon, chief executive o icer told delegates at the CAPA (Centre
for Aviation) Australia Pacific Summit, which took place in Sydney
That spirit of innovation is set to continue with the airline having
a pipeline of developments planned for the next two to three years,
with significant investment planned in digital technology in par-
ticular, says Luxon.
Air New Zealand has been focused on improving every stage of the
customer journey and removing the pain points. "We will never solve
them all I suspect in our careers or our lifetimes, but we have to be
constantly striving to perfect every part of the journey," he says. Air
New Zealand has identified five main stages of the customer journey,
with 15 mini-phases. "We've realised that from breaking that chain
down there's lots of moments when we can improve the customer ex-
perience along the way and the way in which we'll do that is increas-
ingly through the application of digital technology," Luxon explains.
"We fundamentally believe that we can transform Air New Zealand
in the next five, 10, 15 years through the application of technology,
to make it better for our customers, better for us operationally and
much better for us commercially," he adds.
Air New Zealand's technology innovations in recent years have
included the use of 3D printing for aircraft interior parts; the in-flight
trial of Microsoft's HoloLens holographic computer, which displayed
key customer information to cabin crew, including a customer 's
preferred meals and drinks, onward travel and loyalty membership
details; biometric bag drop which uses face-to-passport recognition;
Oscar, the artificial intelligence chatbot; and the airline's highly suc-
cessful unaccompanied minor bracelet, the Airband, which is based
on Disney's MagicBand and sends parents texts about the location
of their unaccompanied child throughout the journey.
"It's been a lot of innovation and constant experimentation," says
Luxon. He adds: "It's just thinking di erently about how to apply
technology to the customer journey. I think it's really important for
our industry at this time that we keep thinking about how to upgrade
the customer experience."
The airline's most recent innovations include a five-day trial in
August of Commonwealth Bank's social humanoid robot, Chip
CANdroid, at Australia's Sydney Airport, to interact with and assist
Air New Zealand passengers checking in and at the gate prior to
boarding. " This partnership and experiment with CommBank and
Chip is another way we are pushing the boundaries to ensure we
remain at the forefront of technology which will allow us to further
enhance the experience we o er our customers," says Avi Golan, Air
New Zealand chief digital o icer.
The airline also recently introduced a new capability to its mobile
app whereby a passenger can scan and save passport information to
the app which sends a timely reminder when it's time to renew the
passport. Each month, some 550 customers turn up to the airport
with an expired passport, according to Air New Zealand. The airline's
app has been downloaded by 1.3 million people. A co ee ordering
service using the app trialled earlier this year resulted in two mil-
lion co ee orders. Recent additions to the app include multi-pass
management where customers travelling as a family or group can
download up to nine boarding passes and a baggage management
function whereby a passenger can purchase a bag to add to an
existing seat-only domestic fare.
The airline's e orts are paying o in terms of its financial results,
with the carrier recently announcing its second-highest profit in the
company's history. Earnings before taxation for the 2017 financial
year were NZ$527 million (US$381 million) compared with NZ$663
million last year, with a net profit after taxation of NZ$382 million.
Some 16 million passengers were carried by the airline during the
year, while capacity increased 6.3 percent.
Air New Zealand has always been one of the most innovative airlines in the region and is looking
to maintain the mantle. Emma Kelly reports.
▲Air New Zealand conducted a five-day trial in August of the
Commonwealth Bank's social humanoid robot, Chip CANdroid, at
Australia's Sydney Airport to interact with and assist passengers.
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