Over 14,000 attendees, 600 exhibiting companies and 1,200 VIPs from more than 260 global airlines descended on the Hamburg Messe for the world’s largest Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany recently.
With the Expo capturing the attention of the world’s media and with almost 200 journalists in attendance, exhibiting companies showcased revolutionary products and concepts that demonstrated how the future of air travel is set to change for passengers.
This year, more exhibiting companies than ever before used the show as a platform to make announcements. These included:
- Acro is to supply its Series 3 ST seat to Viva Air for the airline’s 50 Airbus A320 aircraft on order.
- Airbus announced the development of a new option for A380 aircraft, ‘A380 Cabin-Flex’. The enhancement, which consists of a new cabin door area arrangement on the upper-deck, is available for line-fit and retrofit, and will be installed on Qantas’ current A380 fleet from mid-2019.
- Geven announced the Essenza economy-class seat has been ordered by Lufthansa for its Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS A320 and A321neo fleet. Deliveries will take place from Q4 of this year until 2022.
- Global Eagle Entertainment launched the Airconnect Go video-on-demand system portable IFE system for regional aircraft, which streams content to passengers’ own devices through Global Eagle’s Airtime portal.
- Gogo announced that Air Canada has extended its agreement to install the provider’s 2Ku in-flight connectivity service on its Bombardier CSeries CS300 fleet, with the system to be line-fit during assembly.
- Inmarsat signed a deal with low-cost Indonesian airline Citilink. The deal has been signed in partnership with Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Systems and Indonesian tech company Mahata Aero Teknologi and will see a retrofit of 50 of Citilink’s Airbus A320s with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation in-flight broadband service.
- GKN Fokker has partnered with cosmetics brand Rituals to launch a cabin scenting system which aims to create a more pleasant in-flight experience and influence the mood of passengers.
- Panasonic Avionics announced the debut of their new airline on-board loyalty platform, called NEXT Loyalty, with Singapore Airlines as launch customer, as well as a partnership with gategroup on their new retail platform NEXT Marketplace, and an IFEC commitment from Turkish Airlines for 50 wide-bodied aircraft.
- Recaro announced it will supply its CL4400 business class seats to WOW, the Icelandic budget carrier. A total of 15 aircraft will be completed by year-end.
- Thales announced the expansion of its inflight entertainment portfolio with CORE and PRESTIGE, offering a full spectrum of solutions and services to maximize passenger satisfaction, loyalty and airline revenue.
AIX also showcased the winners of this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards with the award-winning technologies changing the future of the cabin. Amongst the winners were the Qatar Airways QSuite picked up with Cabin Concepts award, Rockwell Collins ‘Silhouette MOVE’ won the Cabin Systems category and Bluebox Aviation’s Accessible IFE for passengers with visual impairment cleaned up in the IFEC category.
With the latest innovations in connectivity, in-flight entertainment and passenger comfort hardware on display, alongside an educational programme looking at the areas of focus for the industry, many trends were highlighted at the Expo.
- Inflight Entertainment – Passengers increasingly want to replicate the multi-screen environment they enjoy today on the ground, in the air. Using a mixture of seatback screens with their own devices to both enjoy inflight entertainment and use a second screen to stay connected with friends and family via email and social.
- Passenger Comfort – Over the past year, with the introduction of more and more double beds and family suites – flying really does feel like a hotel stay. However, seat manufacturers are also improving passenger comfort in Economy by enabling the enhancement of all cabins onboard to retain customer loyalty in an ever increasingly competitive market.
- Extension of flight experience – companies are looking increasingly at entire travel experience and now including the time before boarding, such as individual seat selection via a virtual walk through the cabin, and the ability to select films and music in advance through customisable apps
A daily programme of education sessions was hosted at the FlightGlobal CabinSpace LIVE Seminar Theatre, with participants from across the industry discussing issues including accessible IFE, end-of-life equipment and the burden on the environment, and management of data and the increasing demand for connectivity.
Exhibition director, Polly Magraw, commented: “Every year we see more and more demand from passengers for seamless connectivity and greater expectations placed on all the players that make up the travel experience. As a result, we have seen some truly ground-breaking innovations at AIX this week.
“I’d like to thank all of our exhibiting companies, VIP airline attendees and visitors for helping to continue to make AIX the world-renowned event for the aircraft interiors sector. With the aircraft interiors industry innovating rapidly, we look forward to bringing you all of the latest updates at the 20th AIX next year.”
Aircraft Interiors Expo will return to the Hamburg Messe from 2–4 April 2019 where it will be co-located with World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) and Passenger Technology Solutions (PTS). Along with the Passenger Experience Conference the three expos make up Passenger Experience Week.