Blockchain and Business aviation - What are the implications?


Business aviation and the future of blockchain

Florian Eggenschwiler, head of innovation at Swissport, knows that blockchain will affect the industry's most important processes and will be able to add real value in the near future.

Below is a Q&A with Mr. Eggenschwiler to learn more about him.

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Q. Mr. Eggenschwiler, could you briefly introduce yourself?

I am the head of innovation at Swissport International, an aviation services company that provides airport ground and cargo handling services throughout Europe and around the world. In this role I look at how to introduce new technologies to our business and monitor trends that may influence our company.

Q. You’ve been asked to participate in an EBACE2019 panel focused on blockchain in the business aviation industry. What is your organisation’s involvement in this area?

Blockchain is a really interesting technology, and a paradigm shift to decentralized setups that could turn a lot of industries upside-down. Aviation is extremely fragmented by multiple entities that rely upon ‘middlemen’ to facilitate working together. Blockchain moves beyond this antiquated infrastructure to speed the share of information, but it relies on a consortium of companies – competitors – working together, and legacy companies aren’t used to thinking like that.

So far, blockchain is at a very early stage with little mass deployment. Following the initial, massive hype in 2017-2018, we’re now filtering through where this technology to determine where it may add real value. Swissport is involved in a couple of proof-of-concept ideas, including improved transparency in baggage tracking between multiple airlines and entities when traveling internationally.

We’re less involved in the executive aviation arena, but what’s interesting about that market is that it’s even more fragmented than commercial aviation. Blockchain offers transparency that could be extremely beneficial to business aviation, such as using IoT sensors to facilitate fueling or invoicing through smart contracts.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish by participating in this panel?

This panel includes representatives from the technology sector working to bring blockchain to reality. I’m looking forward to hearing from them about what companies like Swissport may do to push this technology further, and what our customers may expect from us in this space so they may also benefit.

I expect an open conversation from the panel and from our audience examining the current ecosystem and possible roadmaps for taking blockchain off the ground. At the end of the day, as with any new technology, blockchain must be able to solve an existing business problem.

Q. How do you think the business aviation community has evolved in the last 12 months? Any particular challenges you want to highlight?

As we look at how airports operate, especially in Europe, we’re seeing increasing congestion in airspace and infrastructure. This led to a high rate of flight delays last summer, and I expect a similar situation this year. That not only affects commercial airlines but business aviation as well, and for the latter I think we’ll see more operators choosing to fly to smaller airfields with fewer constraints.

Q. Take our three words challenge: pick three words to describe the future business aviation industry.

Seamless, transparent and data-driven. Those terms all apply to blockchain, of course, but certainly are not exclusive to it.