Anyone remember Google Wave? Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, TUI, and a whole bunch of investors and techies are betting that blockchain fulfills a lot of promise and exhibits a ton more staying power than previously-hyped technologies that didn't hang around very long.
Air New Zealand became the second airline, after Lufthansa, to announce its consideration of blockchain technology to enhance its distribution efforts.
Although this is at a very preliminary stage, a spokesperson for Swiss-based Winding Tree, which hopes to build a blockchain-based distribution platform for airlines, said Air New Zealand plans to test integrating Winding Tree into the carrier’s proprietary passenger services system.
The technology might be useful in providing a new way to power Air New Zealand’s baggage tracking, ancillary services, and distribution, the companies said.
Air New Zealand chief digital officer Avi Golan says the carrier is excited about exploring blockchain’s potential.
Skift Research delved into blockchain’s possible future in the travel ecosystem in a new report here.
“With its built-in efficiency and security, blockchain has the potential to trigger huge innovation in travel, paving the way for new business models and collaboration,” Golan said in a statement.
In announcing the partnership, a Winding Tree spokesperson said Air New Zealand has agreed to purchase an unspecified number of the platform’s tokens, which are a digital currency.
The move follows Lufthansa’s decision in October to likewise partner with Winding Tree in the pre-sale of its cryptocurrency, Lif.
The idea is that the tokens would be used to finance a blockchain digital marketplace that would level the playing field and wrest some control from digital incumbents, such as big online travel agencies and global distribution systems.
Most everything, including whether it can offer something new and more efficient, about blockchain remains to be seen because the technology is so new and in development.
Photo credit: Air New Zealand plans on testing the integrating of blockchain with its passenger services system. Pictured, passengers board an Air New Zealand flight at Christchurch Airport in Christchurch, New Zealand, September 20, 2017. Mark Baker / Associated Press