AirAsia is seeking to boost its presence in Silicon Valley through a partnership with global start-up innovation platform Plug & Play Tech Centre.
The low-cost carrier’s deputy group chief executive officer for digital, transformation and corporate services, Aireen Omar, said the partnership was the first of many to keep a finger on the pulse of innovation so the airline can identify technologies to maintain its leadership in cost and customer experience.
AirAsia – which is already considered the World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline by the World Travel Awards – harbours long-terms ambitions to transform from an airline into a global digital company.
The carrier will work as an anchor partner of Plug and Play’s Travel & Hospitality programme to mentor new businesses and collaborate with emerging technologies.
The airline also plans to identify, observe and support relevant start-ups that were developing new products and technologies for the travel sector.
Plug & Play founder Saeed Amidi said it will help AirAsia engage the most promising start-ups in the industry and bring new ideas into its business.
“Their expertise will be a great addition to our ecosystem and we welcome them to Silicon Valley,” he added.
AirAsia is a pioneer in adopting new technologies to improve travel experience, being one of the first to introduce SMS booking in 2003 in Malaysia.
It then introduced a website for flight booking, check-in and booking changes, followed by a mobile app.
Recently, AirAsia debuted its Fast Airport Clearance Experience System facial recognition boarding gates, becoming the first airline in Asia to be fully automated from check-in to boarding.
Plug & Play is the world’s largest start-up accelerator, hosting 400 start-ups in its Sunnyvale’s headquarters – a city between Cupertino which hosts Apple and Mountain View which houses Google.