What to Know Now

I write this week from APEX, or the Airline Passenger Experience Expo, where myself and a handful of other writers are on hand to see the latest in in-flight technologies. In short, the audience seems underwhelmed. While the Thales and the Panasonics of the in-flight entertainment world have plenty of fancy doodads and augments to show off (Airbus, for example, wanted to show off illuminated seat numbers under each row), much of the development in the airline industry is sadly being throttled by the airlines and their development cycles.

One interesting technology from Thales caught my eye though — their newest AVANT inflight entertainment system is built upon an Android environment, giving open access to coders for rampant (and potentially profitable) app development. They’re currently soliciting app development over in their portal, and based on the current volumes, the fastest coders could really cash in.

Beyond the profitability vector though, opening up an SDK allows innovation to move forward unhindered by the airlines or the hardware provider. Hopefully that translates to faster adoption of better tools and a better overall passenger experience.

The AVANT system is currently unrolling on several airlines across the globe including Qatar.

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Top Story

Another week, another new airline rebrand. Just this week, Spirit unveiled a new, shockingly yellow paint job for its fleet, a move both lauded and chided by critics. “It’s radically different from other airlines, and it’s fun, just like we are,” says their CEO.

Fun. I never thought of Spirit as a “fun” airline, but I suppose the new look is eye catching.

Social Quote of the Day

Spirit Airlines’ new yellow livery is obnoxious for a reason: green. bit.ly/1uKVpQU

@petchmo | Ian Petchenik, Educational technologist, freelance aviation writer

Southwest Reveal Launch Event

Airlines

Chinese Airlines Had Some of the Worst On-Time Records in August: Chinese airlines had some of the lowest on-time arrival percentages last month, and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole had the lowest overall on-time arrival percentage. Read more at Skift

Aviation Tech Giants Join Forces to Increase Airline Seat Revenue: Aviation and aerospace technology giant, Thales, and satellite communications giant, Inmarsat, have joined forces to take advantage of airlines’ connected services to introduce solutions aimed at increasing airline revenue through sales of ancillary services on in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens. Read more at Skift

Spirit Airlines Joins Southwest and Frontier on the Rebranding Bandwagon: If you’re a low-cost airline in the United States and you haven’t rolled out a new paint job in the last eight days, then you’re in the minority. Read more at Skift

Southwest CFO: ‘Our Customers Don’t Like Bag Fees So We Don’t Like Bag Fees’: As Southwest Airlines ponders international expansion and what CFO Tammy Romo calls “50 new dots we could add to the map with the current range of the 737,” it won’t be doing so with bag fees. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Frankfurt Airport Officials Say It Needs a Third Runway to Manage Growth:
Fraport AG, the operator of Frankfurt airport, said its passenger count is set to expand by more than 10 million in less than a decade, highlighting the need for a third terminal. Read more at Skift

No Relief in Sight on Third Day of Air France Pilots’ Strike: The French government on Wednesday urged an end to the strike that has grounded at least half of the airline’s flights this week. The pilots are angry about company plans to shift many operations to low-cost affiliate Transavia and transfer some jobs to countries with lower taxes and labor costs. Read more at Skift

United Bets on Better Tech, Restaurants to Improve Newark Hub: New York City-area airports are notorious for substandard food options, dark corridors and long wait times, and airlines are now trying to change the perception of these important hubs by introducing new restaurants and sophisticated technology. Read more at Skift

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Tech

Mercedes-Benz Joins Volkswagen, Audi in Testing Self-Driving Cars: Mercedes-Benz, the world’s third- biggest maker of luxury cars, will test self-driving vehicles on Californian roads, adding to efforts by automakers to develop features for more comfortable and safer rides. Read more at Skift

Expedia Expands Its Loyalty Program With Branded Credit Cards: Like airlines and hotels that confer elite status on big-spending customers, Expedia is offering two new Mastercards that give perks to loyal customers. Read more at Skift

Gogo Announces Virgin Atlantic as New Partner for Ultra-Fast In-Flight Internet: Gogo announced today that Virgin Atlantic will be its next major partner for the launch of its 2Ku inflight internet technology. Read more at Skift

Hawaiian Airlines First to Commit to New Satellite Safety and Aircraft Tracking System: Hawaiian airlines has selected Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband Safety service to better track and communicate with its aircraft over water. Read more at Skift

High-Speed In-Flight Connectivity Is Coming to Private Jets: Private-jet owners are getting closer to being able to stream their favorite high-definition television shows while shuttling between continents at close to the speed of sound. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

Holiday Inn Express Turns to Digital and a Comedian to Build Its Brand: Most economy hotel brands have not partnered with a popular comedian to represent their latest campaign; however, most brands have built upon a single humorous campaign concept since its launch in 1998. Read more at Skift

Trump Soho Hotel’s Failures Lead to Foreclosure Sale of Condos: Lower Manhattan’s Trump Soho hotel-condominium tower, which has struggled to find buyers since sales started in 2007, is facing foreclosure. Read more at Skift

Starwood Plans 50% Growth in African Portfolio Following Promising Signs: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. plans to operate as many as 20 new hotels in Africa over the next four years as the U.S. owner of the Sheraton and St Regis brands takes advantage of rising travel on the continent. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Our congratulations go to Matt Gross, the New York Times former Frugal Traveler who has been working as the head digital editor at Bon Appetit for the last few years. Just this week he announced that he’ll be taking the role as top editor at Boston.com. Safe travels, Matt.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm@skift.com and @grantkmartin. We publish the Business Newsletter twice a week on Monday and Thursday.

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Photo Credit: Aviation writer Jason Rabinowitz using gesture controls on new in-flight entertainment system. Grant Martin / Skift