Flutterwave Joins IATA to Enhance Travel Payments in Sub-Saharan Africa

Flutterwave, a leading fintech company, has teamed up with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to enhance travel to sub-Saharan Africa. By integrating with IATA’s payment platform, Flutterwave enables airlines to process customer payments through various methods, including cards, bank transfers, and mobile money, providing a seamless payment experience for travelers.

Flutterwave is renowned for its payment infrastructure that serves global merchants and payment service providers across Africa. With over 400 million transactions processed, totaling above $25 billion, and catering to more than one million businesses, including notable clients like Uber, Airpeace, Bamboo, and Piggyvest, Flutterwave has solidified its position in the fintech industry.

The recent partnership with IATA Financial Gateway (IFG) offers airlines the capability to receive local payments from African markets through all their distribution channels. IATA, which represents around 290 international airlines, sees this collaboration as a means to enhance operations in Africa while providing customers with convenient local and international payment options.

Flutterwave’s CEO and founder, Olugbenga Agboola, highlights the potential for accelerated growth in Africa’s aviation sector, projected to be one of the fastest-growing regions over the next two decades. Simplifying payment processes for global airlines entering the African market is expected to encourage further expansion and investment in the continent’s aviation industry.

Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Senior Vice President of financial settlement and distribution services, expresses excitement over Flutterwave’s participation in bringing secure and innovative payment methods to airlines, travel resellers, and the traveling public in Africa. The collaboration between Flutterwave and IATA aims to enhance the overall travel experience for passengers while boosting economic growth in the African aviation sector.

Source: techafricanews 

Sabre teams with iCoupon

Sabre Corporation, a leading software and technology provider that powers the global travel industry, announced an agreement with leading digital vouchering platform iCoupon to enable its airline customers to enhance the passenger and crew experience during flight disruption. Using the iCoupon technology, airlines can turn passenger and staff boarding passes into vouchers that can be immediately redeemed at airport restaurants and retailers.

“Sabre has deep global expertise in minimizing the impact of airline disruption, so we’re thrilled that we will be working closely together through this new agreement,” said Richard Bye, CEO of iCoupon. “This alliance will support our global expansion plans by enabling us to offer our innovative solution to more airlines across the world, while allowing airlines to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve passenger satisfaction during times of disruption.”

Airlines around the world use Sabre’s intelligent service recovery solutions to holistically solve passenger reaccommodation challenges, including providing travellers with self-service options to enable them to effortlessly choose their own flights. iCoupon’s solution will complement Sabre’s existing technology and expertise. Eliminating the need for a physical voucher and providing an environmentally friendly solution, iCoupon’s technology enables airlines and ground handlers to remotely and instantly issue digital vouchers directly to a passenger’s boarding pass in the event of significant delays or disruption. Passengers can then instantly redeem their voucher at any iCoupon-integrated restaurant or retailer with their mobile or printed boarding pass. The solution can also be used for staff and crew meal entitlements.

“Even with the very best network plan and the most optimal scheduling, unexpected delays and disruptions happen for all sorts of reasons,” said Corrie DeCamp, Senior Vice President, Product Management for Sabre Travel Solutions. “And when a disruption does happen, passengers expect and demand instant solutions. Providing immediate compensation through unique barcodes on boarding passes that passengers already have streamlines processes for airlines while minimizing what can be a stressful situation for both passengers and airline staff. We’re delighted to be bringing our airline partners the opportunity to add iCoupon to their disruption strategies.”

SOURCE: Traveldailynews

How An AI System Called EMMA Is Optimizing Operations At Doha’s Hamad International Airport

Airports are bustling hubs of activity, with passengers, flights, and cargo passing through their gates every day. Efficiently managing operations and ensuring a seamless travel experience for passengers is a complex task.

In Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH), the second-best airport in the world (according to SKYTRAX), a revolutionary AI system called EMMA – Environmental and Movement Monitoring for Airports – is transforming the way the airport operates, optimizing efficiency, and enhancing safety.

What exactly does EMMA do?

EMMA’s CEO and co-founder, Wisam Costandi, identified a crucial issue that airports around the world face: a lack of efficient communication between airports, airlines, and air traffic controllers. This leads to ineffective processes, which in turn, results in a loss of time and revenue.

Thus, EMMA was born – a futuristic platform powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) that utilizes advanced algorithms and real-time data to manage the movement of aircraft, vehicles, and personnel on the airport’s apron and taxiways. By harnessing the power of AI and ML, EMMA has revolutionized Hamad International Airport’s operations and ushered in a new era of efficiency and productivity.

In a statement shared with Simple Flying, Costandi said:

“EMMA brings improved coordination and provides greater visibility into all airport operations for all stakeholders, increasing efficiency and resulting in more on-time arrivals and departures, while decreasing CO2 emissions considerably.”

Unrivaled benefits for airports

One of the most significant advantages of EMMA is its ability to adapt and learn from real-world operations. Through continuous data collection and ML, the AI system becomes increasingly intelligent over time. It can fine-tune its algorithms, improve predictions, and adapt to changing airport dynamics. This flexibility ensures that EMMA remains a valuable asset, capable of meeting the evolving needs of the airport and accommodating future growth.

These capabilities reap benefits for airports in the form of efficiency, better decision-making, better planning through increased predictability, improved accuracy and timeliness, better slot performance and resource utilization, and reduced ground delays. All in all, these advantages contribute to reduced operational costs and decreased carbon emissions.

Growth and expansion

The implementation of EMMA at DOH has set a new standard for airport operations worldwide. By harnessing the power of AI and ML, the system has transformed how the airport manages its operations, optimizing efficiency, enhancing safety, and improving the passenger experience.

As other airports around the globe witness the success of EMMA, it is expected that AI systems will play an increasingly vital role in shaping the future of aviation, leading to smarter, greener, and more passenger-centric airports.

In fact, EMMA is expected to expand to the US in view of the increased taxi time at 30 of the country’s largest hubs. As reported in The New York Times, a 2019 study from Airlines for America found that from 1990 to 2018, taxi time increased by 19% at these hubs and 24% at 31 medium-sized airports. With the advent of EMMA, this could very well change for the better in the near future.

SOURCE: Simple Flying

Qatar Airways and Google Cloud to Collaborate on Data and AI

Google Cloud and Qatar Airways have agreed to collaborate to set out the airline’s intention to explore leveraging Google Cloud’s data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to create superior customer experiences for its passengers. In 2022, Qatar Airways carried 18.5 million passengers across 150 destinations worldwide. This large volume of passengers drives an abundance of structured and unstructured data to the airline’s digital transformation unit. The proposed collaboration with Google Cloud is intended to help bring deeper meaning to Qatar Airways’ customer data through the power of Google’s data analytics, AI and machine learning (ML) solutions, including BigQuery and Vertex AI. This, in turn, will enable the airline to enhance the travel experience for passengers, providing them with offerings personalized to their individual needs, travel trends, and past travel history. Qatar Airways Chief Information Officer, Mr. A.T. Srinivasan, said, “Qatar Airways is a highly respected aviation leader which has always set benchmarks with its globally recognized and award-winning customer service. Google Cloud brings us the opportunity to build elasticity and scalability on demand, as we increasingly look to leverage both structured and unstructured data to personalize customer and employee experience. We will also leverage Google’s highly secure and diverse set of Cloud service offerings for optimizing our airline and airport operations particularly in the areas of aircraft inventory, flight operations both on ground and in the air, as well as airport operations. We also look forward to collaborating with Google Cloud to try out some of their cutting-edge technology through this long-term partnership. The presence of a Cloud in Qatar gives us the assurance that our data stays in-country and we can focus on data and AI/ML led innovation without having to worry about data residency.” Ghassan Kosta, Qatar Country Manager, Google Cloud added: “Businesses today can make smart decisions in real time and provide personalized experiences to their customers through AI and machine learning     tools. Qatar Airways is not only an airline that takes passengers from point A to point B, but also it is a manifestation of Qatari hospitality. Through use of Google Cloud, Qatar Airways can enable passengers to enjoy elevated travel experiences, including personalized travel recommendations and suggestions as if they have a dedicated travel agent who understands their specific needs and requirements.” Additionally, Qatar Airways and Google Cloud will explore further areas of collaboration, including using cloud tools to drive cost optimization, increase streamlined operations, and more. Sustainability is also a top priority in the airline’s digital transformation roadmap, and Qatar Airlines will explore using Google Cloud, the cleanest cloud in the industry, to implement new programs that will support Qatar Airways in fulfilling its sustainability goals by 2030.
SOURCE: breakingtravelnews

A New Era of Airline Retailing: Inside Sabre’s Busy NDC Launch Schedule

As travelers seek better shopping and booking experiences, travel companies must transform both the technology powering their retailing systems and the organizational culture behind them. Recent milestones within Sabre’s Beyond NDC program demonstrate how the company is advancing new retailing opportunities across the entire travel value chain.

Today’s travelers have higher expectations than ever. They not only want personalized experiences and customizable options, but greater transparency and more convenient ways to manage their plans. To help travel companies meet these expectations, Sabre is accelerating its Beyond NDC program, which enables third-party travel retailers to sell personalized offers and real-time content.

“Since January, the Sabre team is proud to have launched New Distribution Capability (NDC) offers from American Airlines, United Airlines, Finnair, and most recently Lufthansa Group in a soft launch capacity,” said Kathy Morgan, vice president of NDC and airline supply at Sabre. “We’re now focused on collaborating with the airlines to encourage travel agency adoption. We hope this news makes agencies take notice that NDC is no longer an experiment — it’s here.”

In April, American Airlines made headlines as it embarked on this transformation. The airline is now providing NDC offers through Sabre’s global distribution system, reserving upwards of 40 percent of its fares for NDC-powered channels and direct booking channels. SkiftX spoke with Morgan to examine the business case for transitioning to NDC-enabled retailing and to understand how to navigate the associated challenges.

The Case for Transitioning to Offer and Order Retailing

“An offer and order framework is foundational to modern retailing,” Morgan said. “Other industries such as entertainment, online shopping, and finance already use an offer and order framework, utilizing data insights, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence to give consumers valuable, relevant, and seamless experiences. This is what the airline industry needs to meet the expectations of today’s travelers.”

With offer and order retailing supported by NDC, airlines create various offers in real time. These offers may include products and services like seat selection, extra leg-room, or Wi-Fi. Longer term, these offers may expand to products not traditionally sold by airlines, such as hotel add-ons and other extras that can be bundled together seamlessly by third-party retailers based on travelers’ needs.

By gaining access to a broader selection of offers from airlines, travel retailers can support the needs of different types of travelers, as well as create new cross-sell and upsell opportunities for travel agencies. Payment, settlement, delivery, and reconciliation processes are consolidated and streamlined via orders.

“Not only does NDC open the door to more retailing opportunities for airlines, but it also enhances personalization and choice for travelers when shopping for travel and managing trips,” Morgan said. “Sabre’s overarching strategy is rooted in understanding these customer needs.”

The Impact of NDC-Powered Channels on the Travel Retailing Ecosystem While Sabre’s increasing number of NDC-integrated airlines signals a growing commitment from the airline industry to embrace NDC offers and enhance travel retailing, Morgan acknowledges that many travel sellers face a change management challenge that will take time and resources.

“Technology that has been optimized over decades is changing, and this change will require travel agencies to adapt or even eliminate many long-standing practices,” Morgan said. “In addition, the NDC standards remain a work in progress, so travel agencies will need to keep a lot of plates spinning. They’ll need to manage commercial, technical, and operational changes throughout their organizations.”

In terms of commercial changes, travel retailers should discuss with their partners how commercial terms may change for NDC bookings. On the technical side, the transition will not require an abrupt change, but rather a gradual
hybrid approach with traditional travel options available alongside NDC offers.

To that end, Morgan said Sabre is “integrating multiple types of content and normalizing how that content is displayed in our APIs and point-of-sale applications to make it easier for users to compare options and make informed purchases.”

Finally, when it comes to operational changes, Morgan said the most important thing to remember is that “all stakeholders in the travel value chain, including corporations, corporate booking tools, agencies, aggregators, and suppliers, must work together to prepare their systems to scale for NDC.”

Navigating the NDC Transition Path

Even as these exciting digital transformation initiatives ripple across the airline retailing ecosystem, the associated short-term challenges can be difficult to navigate.

“NDC is an industry standard, but the implementations aren’t standard,” Morgan said. “There’s tremendous flexibility and room for interpretation of the standards, which results with each one being unique.”

On managing these complexities, Morgan says her team does the heavy lifting, “from supporting multiple versions of NDC technical schemas, to accounting for country-specific tax guidelines, to integrating mid- and back-office workflow requirements, and more. Our agency point-of-sale solution, Sabre Red 360, and our online corporate booking tool, GetThere, consume the offer and order APIs to display and manage NDC offers. The Sabre NDC capabilities are built to
scale from day one.”

But not all airlines have the same strategy or pace for change. Regardless of airline decisions, Morgan said Sabre’s development work ensures the Sabre marketplace adds value for agencies no matter where the content comes from.
“Whether you’re an enthusiastic adopter of NDC — which I hope is the case — or need more time to assess NDC, we are ready to help you think through options and navigate this important industry change.”


Etihad Cargo launches AI-powered solutions to transform operations

Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Airways, has launched an innovative artificial intelligence (AI)-powered solution to transform airfreight operations and boost cargo capacity on flights.

Etihad Cargo had entered into a proof-of-concept agreement in 2021 with logistics technology solutions provider Speedcargo Technologies, becoming one of only a few global carriers to leverage the Singapore-based provider’s AI products to maximise cargo capacity on flights. “Following successful trials of Speedcargo’s AI solutions, Etihad Cargo has rolled out three AI-powered products — Amplifi, Cargo Eye and Assemble — to boost efficiency, digitise and standardise cargo handling across Etihad Cargo’s network, and enhance service levels for the carrier’s customers and partners.

Etihad Cargo uses Amplifi to optimise cargo loads on each flight. The technology dynamically calculates free and usable capacity based on booked cargo, aircraft type and cargo offer. Utilising the system-generated ULD level load plans, Etihad Cargo will maximise the cargo carried on its flights and significantly reduce the risk of overbookings. “Cargo Eye is a scalable, modular system that captures cargo dimensions and volume data. Powered by Microsoft’s IoT Edge solutions and Speedcargo’s proprietary algorithms, Cargo Eye allows Etihad Cargo to digitise cargo as it enters the carrier’s ground handling stations, enabling real-time sharing of cargo information for load planning, build-up planning and forward operations.

Etihad Cargo will deploy Assemble across the carrier’s network of ground handling stations to facilitate the digital planning and build-up of ULDs using the load plans generated by Amplifi. Offering a user-friendly solution, Amplifi provides ground handling partners with build-up plans that provide step-by-step instructions for optimally built ULDs that conform to safety regulations.

Martin Drew, Senior Vice President – Global Sales & Cargo, Etihad Airways says: “Since embarking on its digitalisation strategy in 2018, Etihad Cargo has developed, trialled and launched new technologies and solutions to provide customers and partners with an improved service offering. The recently completed trials of Speedcargo’s AI-powered solutions have demonstrated it is possible to improve cargo capacity utilisation across Etihad Cargo’s fleet and standardise cargo acceptance and build-up processes to improve the consistency and quality of cargo handling at stations within Etihad Cargo’s network.

Etihad Cargo, with the launch of these AI solutions, is creating an information-rich network that connects airline operations and ground handling for better planning and decision-making. Creating digital audit trails of how cargo is received and handled will benefit Etihad Cargo’s customers by providing a more seamless end-to-end experience and improving the productivity and efficiency of planners and ground handling partners, with the ability to handle multiple flights simultaneously.” Trials of the AI-powered, end-to-end cargo handling solutions were carried out in Singapore where this technology has been deployed and is already utilised by Etihad Cargo’s ground handling partners, the release added. The carrier has also launched a pilot programme to implement these solutions in Frankfurt, and is actively collaborating with ground handling partners across Etihad Cargo’s global network.

SOURCE: www.logupdateafrica.com

Amadeus expands Egyptair technology partnership

Amadeus has signed a long-term, comprehensive technology partnership with Egyptair.

The deal is an extension of an existing relationship between the Egyptian flag-carrier and the travel technology leader, and comes as the airline refreshes its digital offering ahead of a renewed period of growth. 

Yehia Zakaria, chief executive, Egyptair Group, said: “Amadeus is in a position to support Egyptair throughout its digital transformation, allowing us to provide customers with a best-in-class travel experience.

“Once these advanced solutions, including a new digital e-commerce platform are fully implemented, our employees will have the freedom and flexibility to better serve our passengers around the world.”

Included in the deal is Amadeus Revenue Management, which accurately forecasts demand by analyzing customer purchase behaviour, competitor pricing and yield capacity.

New digital solutions will also deliver a frictionless web and mobile experience to travelers while Amadeus Altéa Booking Intelligence will help minimize fraud.

Finally, Egyptair will migrate to a new loyalty platform, where members will benefit from customer-centric experiences based upon traveler insights.

Maher Koubaa, vice president, EMEA, airlines, Amadeus, said: “Amadeus has long been a trusted partner of Egyptair and the renewal we have signed will extend the relationship for many years to come.

“It also deepens the connection, with the flag-carrier positioning itself for future growth in the Middle East and beyond, thanks to the digital upgrade and operational enhancements that this suite of innovative solutions will deliver for Egyptair, its staff and customers.” 

Amadeus continues to build its position in Egypt and the Middle East, with discussions ongoing with a number of other carriers in the region. 
Egyptair is the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt.

The airline is headquartered at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, and operates scheduled passenger and freight services to 81 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Egyptair is a member of Star Alliance.

SOURCE: www.breakingtravelnews.com

eRoam Travel Technology | An intelligent virtual assistant for the travel advisor

eRoam technology helps travel advisors in businesses of all sizes create, book and manage personalised and highly competitive travel experiences for their clients in less time, with less hassle!

The easy to adopt and learn itinerary design and booking management technology takes care of the complexity of the entire reservations process. With eRoam you spend less time administering and more time selling.

With connections to leading global travel product providers, eRoam offers travel content in over 100,000 destinations worldwide, including over 750,000 hotels and lodging options, thousands of tours and activities, and a comprehensive range of transportation including self-drive (own arrangements), flights, trains, transfers and more.

eRoam makes it extremely simple to put together the most complex, multi-day road trip, even for agents who may not be super familiar with the destinations involved. The user simply enters the travel date, number of travelers, any relevant traveler preferences – and then eRoam automatically builds a bookable itinerary in literally seconds.

Agents can then edit the itinerary by changing hotels or activities, add additional services such as car rental, and adjust their own markup, before generating a stylish itinerary and quote document at the click of a mouse to send to their client. If the client wants to book, then the itinerary can be converted to a booking just as quickly, with confirmations automatically sent out to suppliers and vouchers electronically generated. eRoam also integrates with agent payment gateways to ensure simple invoicing and payment processing. eRoam does not interfere with commissions and does not apply a mark-up.

Sabron invites you to a demo of eRoam on 27th Apr 2023 from 12.00 to 13.00 EAT

The demo will be conducted by Charlie Bateson, Commercial Director of eRoam Pty Ltd, responsible for the UK, Africa, and Middle East Markets.

What’s going on in your agency?

Do you know how many times your team engages with a booking?

What is your conversion rate?

What should the team be working on as a priority?

The travel industry has never lacked data. It is collected at every interaction point, and stored in files in the GDS, in PNRS and post booking in the backoffice system. So how do you make all this data work for you? 

 Once you let Agentivity manage the data flowing through your agency, you’ll see exactly what is going on in your agency. You will instantly know where to improve on things in order to scale up and increase your agency’s profitability.

Besides providing insight, you can also gain control on how to manage bookings and perform quality checks to ensure you are providing the best service to your customers.

Agentivity provides a holistic view of your agency offering workload prioritisation, views on true productivity, forecasting problematic bookings quickly and identifying additional revenue opportunities. As the only real-time agency data management tool available globally, Agentivity is a unique solution.

 For more information and a demo of Agentivity, please contact marketing@sabron.co or visit www.agentivity.com

The Massive Tech Developments Poised To Shake Up Travel In 2023

The influence of artificial intelligence, the need for businesses of all sizes to protect against hackers and why travel must hone its TikTok content were among topics explored at the 2023 TTI Travel Tech Summit. 

Experts gathered in London this week to assess the year’s key technology issues and debate how the industry can capitalise on shifting trends – and where it is lagging behind other sectors.

Here are four tech developments poised to shake-up travel in 2023. 

’AI Has Potential Across Every Aspect Of Travel’

Artificial intelligence – providing it is used in the right context – has the potential to help travel businesses across every part of the industry. 

That was the message from Travel Ledger founder Roberto De Re, who predicted AI will be able to transform the customer experience journey – offering differentiated product information and client services – meaning travel brands could do away with “rigid” bots. 

“It would cost a fortune to pay human beings to create unique content for every distributor, so AI has a real application in that space,” he said.

’Big Or Small – You’re Equally At Risk’

 No matter how small your company is – you still must take steps to protect yourself from online hackers and against cybercrime. 

Darren Gale, vice-president of IronNet Cyber Security, said digital attacks were getting “more sophisticated” and travel companies needed to focus on employee education as well as defensive tools.

“I can guarantee travel is being focussed on by these threats because of the industry’s data sets and their desirability, as well as the transaction volumes associated with holiday bookings,” Gale warned. 

Time Is Ticking – So Up Your Tiktok Game

 We all know the growing influence of TikTok but just how impactful is it to certain demographics when planning their travel?

According to Yona Fredericks-Elekima, founder of online travel agency the Take Off Club, 60% of the app’s users are Gen Z [those born from the late-1990s to early 2010s] and they are being influenced to book through companies displaying their favourite content.

 “People will be asking ‘Where did you book? Where can I find this holiday?” Fredericks-Elekima told delegates. “They want to be able to go on these holidays.”

 Although, she stressed the industry should not have a one-size-fits-all approach to its social channels, and urged brands to “find what works for you”.

 ’Don’t Be Afraid To Integrate Payments’

 The tourism and hospitality sectors are “still very far behind” when it comes to integrated payment solutions, according to Planet’s senior VP for the UK, Ireland and North America Steven Dow. 

“Businesses don’t move quickly because they’re nervous… there’s the whole GDPR finance compliance, the data security, it’s all very stressful,” he told delegates. 

Dow urged travel firms to boost their integrated payment services in a bid to streamline processes and improve customer experience.

He explained it could be the difference between a customer having to queue at a hotel reception for their room key and them having all the information already on their credit card.

Source: TTG