Why the pandemic is accelerating airline digitalisation


A survey conducted by the LSG Group among airline customers has shown that the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the digitalisation of pre-flight, in-flight and onboard services. Qualitative interviews with 17 airlines conducted in September and October 2020 show that airlines around the world expect this to improve the quality and predictability of the flight experience.

More than two-thirds of the participants are interested in testing at least a small number of new digital services, including pre-order and pre-select solutions for catering, over the next 18 months. The remaining respondents consider the models to be at least compatible with their brand and technically feasible.

“Even the general trend toward customised products and experiences does not stop at airline catering,” explains Stefan Patermann, CEO of Retail inMotion and head of onboard retail at LSG Group. He emphasises the shift toward greater individualisation associated with digitalisation, regardless of the booking class: “We can support this shift with concepts that can be implemented quickly and adapted to the different needs of customers.”

According to Patermann, the findings of the customer survey show that catering will remain an important indicator of an airline’s service level in the future, especially in view of the fact that passengers share their feedback on social media. The health aspect of food onboard is also playing an increasingly important role. Among participants, 43% expect the demand for healthier and more digestible meals to increase. At the same time, 57% suspect that many passengers pay less attention to their diet onboard than they generally claim.

Another finding is the importance of sustainability for the airline industry. Of those surveyed, 80% believe that it will play a central role in product development in the future, even if the pandemic has recently pushed certain aspects, such as the use of as little packaging material as possible, to the background because of the desire for maximum hygiene.

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