Blockchain technology has continued to find ways to be applied to various industries in the time that it has been around. Multiple banks, supply chains, and other management systems have found that the immutable ledger and consistent tracking of information benefit them greatly, so why not apply it to air travel? This appears to be the school of thought for AirAsia Group Bhd, which recently announced that they were examining possible implementation of blockchain for tracking aircraft parts.
Aireen Omar, the AirAsia deputy CEO (on the photo above), stated that the airline actually began their examination two years ago, at a time when the initial coin offering (ICO) craze reached its height. At the time, Omar says that the majority of people were looking at the ICO side of blockchain, but AirAsia saw three use cases. She explains that they imagined using blockchain for tokenizing loyalty points, creating a collaborative platform for tracking aircraft parts, and increasing efficiency in cargo.
By offering the tokenization of loyalty points, the points could easily be applied in markets beyond AirAsia. They want the points to be viewed more like a digital currency for Asian, providing a “real regional use case,” unlike the speculation that ICOs have brought to the table.
With a collaborative platform, aircraft parts could be tracked from their source to their installation on the planes. However, this type of data would also reveal the maintenance needed on the parts, ensuring greater efficiency with repairs and improvements. Getting ahead of maintenance means that fewer aircrafts would have lengthy on-ground times. Along with benefiting the airlines, it would ensure greater confidence from the stakeholders and the original manufacturers across blockchain. The aviation regulators in this area and around the world could find any details they need about aircraft components.
The cargo industry is unfortunately riddled with fraud and applying blockchain technology could prevent these circumstances. Though there are many middlemen that take advantage of customers through the differences in pricing, blockchain increases transparency to prevent these bad players from taking advantages of airlines and consumers.
Even though the operation of blockchain in these instances is somewhat complicated, Omar assures that their company is working to understand the technology and clarify regulations. For now, the goals of AirAsia extend beyond being just an airline, as they seek out options to get involved with e-commerce, considering the information they have collected on passenger behavior. Even though the cost for the company to get involved in blockchain could be fairly high, Omar believes that the cost is worth the reward.