Etihad showcases plans to transform air travel experience

ABU DHABI // Don’t be surprised if in the future a robot asks for your passport at one of the check-in counters at Abu Dhabi Airport or welcomes you to the Etihad Airways lounge.

The hi-tech helpers were some of the exciting ideas showcased by Etihad Aviation Group as part of an Innovation Week event as it plans to transform the air travel experience for passengers.

“We are investing in the innovation and people of Abu Dhabi,” said Robert John Webb, chief information and technology officer at Etihad Aviation Group, adding that not all of the technologies at the event will become a reality.

“This is the Innovation Week. This is about imagining, about dreaming about what could be,” he said, adding that the airline’s staff shouldn’t worry about being replaced any time soon.

“We are investing in technology to support our employees not to replace our employees. So that they can better serve our guests.”

While robotic stewards are still some way off, the airline is moving ahead with more recognisable technologies such as mobile phone apps with the goal of making the entire flight booking and boarding process paperless.

Etihad Airway’s mobile application for iPhone and Android has been downloaded more than 300,000 times.

“More than US$30 million dollars in revenue via the iPhone app and over 300,000 downloads - so it’s been widely successful in a short period of time,” Mr Webb said. “It’s very important we continue to innovate and invest in mobile.”

Also key to Etihad’s future plans is Emiratisation, said Yasser Al Yousuf, managing director at the Etihad Guest.

“The interesting thing about Etihad in terms of supporting Emiratisation is that they give you a challenge and support you to accomplish that,” said Mr Al Yousuf said who has worked with the airline for three years.

“You wouldn’t find (this) at other companies. Here you are given the responsibilities and are given the tools to help you achieve it,” he said.

Published: November 21, 2016 04:00 AM