It’s been a turbulent last few weeks for the airline industry, with Ryanair being forced to cancel hundreds of flights following an administrative blunder, followed by the recent collapse of Monarch, which left thousands of passengers stranded or out of pocket.
The Ryanair episode in particular throws light on the sheer scale of the administrative task that faces carrier operators and the results that can occur when something goes wrong. So the arrival of blockchain-based solutions to some of the airline industry’s biggest headaches can’t come quickly enough.
Blockchain to the Rescue
One of the biggest challenges for any airline is data – the collection and retention of it, as well as how it is used. A passenger getting on a flight does not just interact with the airline itself, but with a host of other functionaries: airport and immigration authorities, booking websites, hotel and car rental companies to name but a few. All of these separate entities will be collecting and storing a traveller’s data and will need to share it with other companies and services.
Getting a passenger safely on and off a flight involves huge amounts of data reconciliation between these various actors – any delay here can mean delays to the flights themselves. Blockchain can speed up this process whilst still maintaining the security of the data and the passengers themselves.
By storing this data on a blockchain, not only will it be more secure, given the lack of any centralised hub, but more accessible more quickly to those with access permissions. By utilising smart contracts in ticketing procedures, customer data could be stored more safely and used more efficiently. The safer the data, the safer the traveller.
With every transaction automatically recorded on the blockchain, airline loyalty schemes will also become much more efficient as the delay in the processing of points will disappear. This should enable customers to use their points as soon as they earn them, without having to wait whilst they accrue or are processed.
There are also intriguing implications beyond the passenger experience. Currently, aircraft maintenance logs and staffing data are bulky and unwieldy and often stored on paper. Moving this information to a blockchain will enable airlines to keep better track of their supply chains and be sure that aircraft parts are correct and properly made.
The blockchain’s immutable record of their journey from factory to fitting should ensure quality and safety standards are accurately maintained. Staff data will also be readily visible and up-to-date, so airlines will be able to monitor and timetable their employees with greater efficiency.
The implications of implementing blockchain technology across the industry will go beyond merely enhancing efficiency and airlines’ profits. Customers will be safer, delays fewer and vital data more secure. This represents a better deal for both the airlines themselves and all of us who travel with them.
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