Air New Zealand and JetBlue have joined forces to help foster emerging technologies in the travel industry.
JetBlue venture capital subsidiary JetBlue Technology Ventures and the Kiwi airline are launching the International Innovation Partnership to seek out companies with innovative travel technologies, partner with them and help implement their ideas.
It expects to announce other travel and hospitality partners in coming months.
The partnership expands the JetBlue venture’s global reach and provides more opportunities for existing and potential partners.
Air New Zealand says it provides access to new technologies as well as to “the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem”.
The companies say they will combine with future partners to build a network aimed at better addressing changes in the travel industry.
“Air New Zealand has a proud history of product innovation and we’re thrilled to be at the center of the immense commercial and customer experience opportunities emerging from the intersection of technology and travel,” said AirNZ chief executive Christopher Luxon said.
“As one of the most innovative airlines globally, Air New Zealand has a proud reputation for nimbly being able to seize opportunities and take these to market.
“We have been growing a terrific ecosystem of global partners as we seek to redefine the future of air travel. Partnering with JetBlue Technology Ventures is an important step in achieving that goal.”
The partnership is the latest move to reflect Air New Zealand’s emphasis on digital technology.
One of the reasons other airlines watch Air New Zealand closely is its global reputation for being innovative and punching above its weight.
Its innovations range from an app that allows customers heading to the lounge to order coffee to automatic bag drops with face-to-passport recognition and Airband, a wristband that allows parents to track the journey of an unaccompanied minor.
Luxon upped the ante almost three years ago when in Silicon Valley veteran Avi Golan as the airline’s chief digital officer and a direct report. The airline now has a team of 650 people working in the area.
The airline has since been investigating technologies such as augmented virtual reality and Google translate for cabin crew.