FTE APEX Asia Expo – the region’s largest free-to-attend passenger experience and business performance expo for the air transport industry – returned to the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Singapore, on 8-9 November 2023. This year’s event – delivered with the support of Headline Partners Changi Airport Group, Singapore Airlines, Star Alliance and Onboard Hospitality – was our biggest and best ever, with 2,069 registrations from 64 countries.
The event provided the ideal opportunity to demo the very latest products and services, share learnings and ideas, and for those from further afield to better understand the APAC market, which will see the fastest growth in the coming years. It featured a free to attend end-to-end exhibition of the industry’s most progressive companies; a high-level Premium Conference Stage; complimentary Expo Stage sessions; the Onboard Hospitality Forum Asia; expanded ‘Tech & Innovation Briefings’; a joint meeting of the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub and FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group; guided tours of the fully refurbished and reopened Terminal 2 at Changi Airport; and ceremonies for the FTE APAC Pioneer Awards 2023 and APEX 2024 Best In Airline Awards for Central/Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, Greater China, and the South Pacific. Here is a selection of the main highlights.
Changi Airport Group, Onboard Hospitality, and Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei help to get FTE APEX Asia Expo underway
FTE APEX Asia Expo 2023 got underway with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony performed by Stuart Forster, Editor, Onboard Hospitality Magazine; Daniel Coleman, Founder & CEO, Future Travel Experience; Anneke Adema, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei; Jayson Goh, Executive Vice President, Airport Management, Changi Airport Group; and Lauren Costello, Executive Director, Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and International Flight Services Association (IFSA).
Innovative airline and airport solutions – from automation to digital identity, baggage, and much more
The free to attend exhibition at FTE APEX Asia Expo provided a major showcase of progressive solutions, products and services from technology giants and the most innovative startups from across Asia and beyond. The 60+ exhibitors highlighted innovations created to help airlines and airports improve end-to-end customer experiences, reduce costs, increase revenues, and enhance sustainability and operational efficiency. Whether you are looking for products to help automate and streamline the airport experience or increase comfort and personalisation inflight, the expo hall was the place to find them.
Among the major companies present was Collins Aerospace, which demonstrated AirPlan – a resource management system that uses real-time data to intelligently assign airport resources to improve aircraft turnarounds and the passenger experience – as well as its end-to-end passenger solutions, providing biometrically-enabled self-service solutions for the entire airport journey.
Automation and self-service technologies are a continued priority for airports and airlines, and these were prominent on the Expo floor. IDEMIA showcased its remote ID registration systems that start the passenger journey in the comfort of their homes, as well as its contactless biometric technologies. Vision-Box highlighted a connected journey from home to destination, where passengers can seamlessly flow through their journey using biometrics. Similarly, WAISL shared how it is implementing its Automated Passenger Processing System (APPS), and Biometric Enabled Seamless Travel (BEST).
Among the other innovations was Airport Dimensions’ Connecta In-Lounge – a one-stop e-commerce and traveller relationship platform that enhances and personalises the airport lounge experience. Baggage was another key focus area, with BagID giving product demos and allowing visitors to try out its electronic bag tags.
Meanwhile, another Expo highlight was the Netherlands Pavilion, featuring the likes of Ooms Producten – Sealoflex PMB, To70, and Vanderlande.
Inflight-focused showcase – IFEC, digital engagement, 5G, communications, aircraft seating and more
The exhibition featured an impressive line-up of inflight-focused suppliers, including Aeroplay Entertainment, AERQ, AirFi, Apios, Inflight Dublin, Intelsat, Mirus Aircraft Seating, Moment, Viasat, and many more.
Inflight Dublin announced at FTE APEX Asia Expo that it has been selected by South African Airways to deliver content and the wireless IFE product, Everhub, to the airline.
Moment promised visitors “a game-changing experience” and highlighted how its IFE platform offers a pixel-perfect entertainment experience, with a diverse and extensive content catalogue, while increasing ancillary revenues through its e-commerce platform.
Mirus Aircraft Seating showcased how its advanced engineering has produced a portfolio of aircraft seats geared for industry-leading levels of passenger living space and comfort.
Visitors to the AERQ booth experienced how the company’s open IT platform AERENA can boost digital cabin innovations throughout the travel journey and facilitate greater passenger engagement onboard the aircraft.
Meanwhile, AirFi highlighted its full range of IFE, onboard retail and connectivity solutions, including Crystal Cabin Award-winning LEO Connectivity.
Onboard Hospitality Forum Asia – a showcase of inflight catering, wellbeing, design and innovation
The Onboard Hospitality Forum Asia once again took place as part of FTE APEX Asia Expo 2023. Driven by leading onboard services magazine, Onboard Hospitality, the forum combined targeted inflight hospitality, peer to peer networking and conference sessions with a chance to meet leading suppliers of catering, wellbeing, design and innovation. Held within a dedicated zone, the free-to-attend Forum was specifically designed to support buyers of inflight passenger comfort and catering.
A record number of leading inflight wellness and catering companies showcased their latest products and services, including Bayart Innovations, Buzz, Do Food Co Ltd, Foodcase International, FORMIA, Global-C, Kosher Arabia, Linstol, MY DRAP, Procurall Solutions, RMT Global Partners, Unilever, Zibo Rainbow, and more.
During the two-day Onboard Hospitality Forum Asia, attendees also had the chance to hear inspiration from a number of leaders in the hospitality sector.
Startup Zone and Startup Pitch Session – a hotbed of innovation
The Startup Zone at FTE APEX Asia Expo 2023 was a hotbed of innovation, featuring progressive companies such as BagID, Optimetrix, and Shabstec.
BagID presented its electronic bag tag – BagID 2. This enables passengers to skip the check-in kiosk at the airport and travel paperless by checking-in their luggage at home and transferring the tag to your BagID 2. With tracking via ‘Apple Find My’ or ‘Samsung SmartThings Find’, travellers have full control of their luggage throughout the journey. Optimetrix highlighted its ICT network infrastructure design & detailing services for airports, which are aimed at assisting airports’ IT project teams. Shabstec showcased its products and services for the aviation baggage community, including demonstrations of its low-cost TagForLife innovation, which aims to help reduce the use of baggage tags and provide a simplified travel experience.
The Expo Stage conference agenda also featured ‘The FTE Innovation Showcase, featuring the Startup Pitch Session’ powered by the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub. Shuji Takahashi, Deputy General Manager (IT Planning Section), Hokkaido Airports Co Ltd, delivered a special presentation on ‘The effective implementation of the airport ecosystem in Hokkaido Airports’. This was followed by startup pitches, showcasing a diverse selection of pioneering products and services – from modern baggage messaging to ICT network infrastructure, and saying goodbye to paper tags and lost bags.
‘Tech & Innovation Briefings’ and One-to-One Meetings
The popular ‘Tech & Innovation Briefings’ on the exhibition floor returned bigger and better this year. Attendees had the opportunity to join guided tours and meet exhibitors with relevant products, services and concepts across areas including Automation, Self-Service & Biometrics; Inflight Entertainment & Connectivity; Onboard Hospitality; Baggage; and Airport Technology & Pre-Travel.
Attendees were also able to use the One-to-One Meeting system prior to and during the show to connect with companies and individuals and arrange meetings. The system again proved a great success.
Inspirational Keynotes and Fireside Chats featuring Changi Airport Group, 777 Partners, airasia MOVE, Star Alliance, and much more
The theme of FTE APEX Asia Expo 2023 was ‘Preparing for tomorrow’s world’ and was reflected throughout the agendas on both the Premium Conference and Expo stages, which highlighted the transformative and collaborative approaches being taken for the benefit of the industry.
Daniel Coleman, Founder & CEO, Future Travel Experience, and Jayson Goh, Executive Vice President, Airport Management, Changi Airport Group, opened the Premium Conference Stage before moving into the Opening Keynote Panel. Themed ‘Leadership perspectives on the biggest opportunities and challenges for the aviation industry across Asia and beyond’, the panel was moderated by Monica Miller, Asia Business Reporter, BBC News, and featured Jayson Goh, Executive Vice President, Airport Management, Changi Airport Group; Manish Raniga, CEO of Airline Investments, 777 Partners; and Sumesh Patel, President, Asia Pacific, SITA.
Theo Panagiotoulias, CEO, Star Alliance, participated in a CEO Fireside Chat in the Premium Conference, sharing his perspective on the challenges and opportunities for the industry, his priorities during his first months in the role, the role digital transformation is playing in future-proofing the Alliance, and much more.
In another fascinating Fireside Chat, Dabraj Sing, Chief Business Officer, airasia MOVE, shared how, in a strategic move, the digital arm of Capital A – airasia Digital – recently announced its transformation into MOVE Digital (MOVE). This heralds an exciting chapter in its next phase of growth and as part of this the airasia Superapp has been rebranded as ‘airasia MOVE’. A key priority is to further drive airasia MOVE’s vision as a low-cost travel platform with high conversion.
The Expo Stage opened with a keynote from Manish Raniga, CEO of Airline Investments, 777 Partners. He explained how start-up LCC Bonza, which is backed by 777 Partners, is disrupting the market with its customer-centric, app-first, digital-native strategy.
Premium Conference Stage – innovation for airlines and airports
The Premium Conference provided unique insights into how the world will evolve over the short, medium and long-term, and how effective utilisation of technology, innovation, hospitality and collaboration can reimagine travel for the better and make our industry more resilient, sustainable and efficient.
Among the many highlights in the Premium Conference was a Special Presentation by Jeffrey Loke, Senior Vice President, DIVA and Pricing & Commercial Strategy, Changi Airport Group, on “How the pioneering ‘Digital, Innovation, Ventures & Analytics’ (DIVA) programme is helping Changi Airport Group to successfully tap into new and emerging technologies and trends, ranging from artificial intelligence to the metaverse”.
The Airline Innovation Summit, sponsored by Viasat, explored how airlines and their partners are making pioneering use of technology to enhance CX, efficiency and sustainability. Moderated by Ryan Ghee, Chief Operating Officer, Future Travel Experience, speakers included: Emre Yavuz, Manager, Advanced Analytics and Customer Data Management, Turkish Airlines Technology; Akemi Kimura, Manager, Fast Travel, IT Strategy & Development, ZIPAIR; and Kevin Kleist, Sr. Emerging Trends Advisor, Southwest Airlines and Head of Innovation, Digitalisation & Startup Engagement, Future Travel Experience.
This was followed by the Airport Innovation Summit, which similarly focused on how airports and their partners are making pioneering use of technology to enhance CX, efficiency and sustainability. Moderated by Javed Malik, Chair of the Advisory Board, Ink Innovation, the session featured two fascinating presentations. Andrew Tan, Director and Head, Airport Operations, Changi Airports International, presented on “Implementing technology to enhance CX and efficiency across different customer landscapes across the globe”. Anurag Shandilya, Head – Airport Operations, Noida International Airport (by Flughafen Zürich AG), and Sunil Ankalgi, Regional Director, Sales & Account Management, Airline and Airport Operations, APAC, Amadeus, then delivered a joint presentation, sharing how Noida International Airport is leveraging the cloud, common-use self-service and biometrics to create a world-class passenger experience.
Another key session focused on “Revolutionising passenger and baggage processing to better serve evolving customer needs – from automation to biometrics and more”. Moderated by Kit Su Lee, Regional Head of Operations, Asia-Pacific, Collins Aerospace, the session included presentations by Jordie Knoppers, Future Customer Journey Manager, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines; April Murphy, Hub Developments Portfolio Manager, Alaska Airlines; and Darin Juby, Head of Baggage Transformation, Future Travel Experience. Juby shared an exclusive update on the latest POCs being undertaken by the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group, which is helping to redefine baggage handling.
Day 2 opened with a virtual keynote from Rohit Talwar, CEO, Fast Future, who presented exclusive insights into the findings of the ground-breaking FTE/Fast Future Study on ‘Tomorrow’s Customer 2030’.
This was followed by sessions on “Inflight innovation powered by technology and creativity”, “The Customer Experience & Service Summit – creating unique and memorable customer journeys”, and “How to become a top-rated airline or airport in passenger experience rating programmes like APEX and Skytrax – lessons from those who have climbed the ladder”.
Expo Stage – free education for all
Attendees benefited from complimentary access to the Expo Stage. “New ideas and opportunities to enhance e-commerce, ancillary revenue and retail in air transport” were explored in a panel led by Ursula Silling, CEO, Branchspace, and featuring Paul Carroll, Chief Revenue & Network Officer, AirAsia; Nicol Seifertova, Ecommerce Manager, Prague Airport; Nick Redpath, Business Development Director EMEA & APAC, Airport Dimensions; and Mitch Fordham, Co-founder & CRO, eSIM Go.
Highlights on the Expo Stage also included a session on “Finding the right balance between automation and human service to enhance the passenger experience”, which heard from Kim Chua, Assistant Professor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Jesse Jalleh, Director Travel Experience, Star Alliance; Peter Ververis, Senior Manager Terminals & Facilitation, Melbourne Airport; Maneesh Jaikrishna, Managing Director of Middle East, Asia Pacific & Africa, Vision-Box; Priyanga Wijewardana, Strategy Planning Manager, SriLankan Airlines; and Bill Carleton, Director, Advanced Recognition Systems, NEC Corporation of America.
Leveraging IFEC advancements to create unique onboard experiences was explored in a panel featuring Lauren Costello, Executive Director, Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX); Nick Silvester, Director Airline Accounts, APAC, Intelsat; Kate Groth, President, West Entertainment; Ben Asmar, Vice President, Products and Strategy, Safran Passenger Innovations; and Kevin Kleist, Senior Emerging Trends Advisor, Southwest Airlines.
Another key session on the Expo Stage was “The Sustainability Symposium”, sponsored by Boeing, which focused on what airlines, airports, OEMs and their partners are doing today to become greener, and how stakeholders can work together more effectively to make operations as environmentally sustainable as possible. It heard from Thomas D. Pellegrin, Senior Principal, Consulting, IATA; Gerald Ng, Vice President, Environment and Sustainability, Changi Airport Group; John Vidal, General Manager APAC, Immfly; and Zaid Alami, Managing Director, Boeing Indonesia.
The FTE Baggage Innovation Summit was moderated by Darin Juby, Head of Baggage Transformation, Future Travel Experience, and opened with a scene-setting presentation from Gus Naughton, Senior Software Engineer, Emerging Technologies, Alaska Airlines. Panellists also included Jason Smith, Programme Manager – Baggage Service, Auckland Airport; Ivan Lee, Manager, Customer Experience (Baggage), Star Alliance; and Christopher Stein, Director Digital Services, Siemens Logistics.
The Expo Stage agenda concluded with an insightful briefing and discussion on AI, IoT & Robotics with leaders from the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub. The session was led by Ryan Ghee, Chief Operating Officer, Future Travel Experience, alongside Kevin Kleist, Sr. Emerging Trends Advisor, Southwest Airlines and Head of Innovation, Digitalisation & Startup Engagement, Future Travel Experience, and Javed Malik, Chair of the Advisory Board, Ink Innovation.
FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub and FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – members-only activities at Changi
FTE’s working groups bring together the most innovative and progressive organisations to provide a unique platform for sharing, learning, cooperation and industry advancement. Ahead of FTE APEX Asia Expo 2023, Changi Airport Group hosted a joint meeting that brought together members of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group (BIWG) and FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub to focus on the topics of robotics and automation, where huge advancements are being made right now to solve many real-world challenges in the aviation industry.
The meeting was led by Darin Juby, Head of Baggage Transformation, Future Travel Experience, and Kevin Kleist, Sr. Emerging Trends Advisor, Southwest Airlines and Head of Innovation, Digitalisation & Startup Engagement, FTE. It featured a packed agenda, with presentations from Christopher Stein, Director Digital Services, Siemens Logistics; Harald Sieke, Head of Department, Fraunhofer IML – Aviation Logistics; Li San Poh, Senior Vice President, T5 Specialised Systems, Changi Airport Group; and Samuel Layton, VP Operations, Singapore, Aurrigo.
BIWG members also had the opportunity to tour the Changi Airport T2 baggage hall.
FTE APAC Pioneer Awards 2023 and APEX 2024 Best In Airline Awards for Central/Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, Greater China, and the South Pacific announced
The most pioneering airlines and airports in Asia-Pacific were recognised at the FTE APAC Pioneer Awards 2023 ceremony, sponsored by AERQ. 20 leading airlines and airports from across the region were nominated for pushing the boundaries of innovation, enhancing the customer experience, and playing a vital role in advancing the air transport industry. 10 of the nominees were presented with an ‘Outstanding Achievement’ trophy: AirAsia, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways, GMR Group, Incheon International Airport Corporation, Airport Authority Hong Kong, Narita International Airport Corporation, and Changi Airport Group. A further four nominees took home ‘Highly Commended’ certificates: IndiGo, Japan Airlines, Airports of Thailand, and Malaysia Airports. View the full report here.
In addition, APEX took to the stage to honour the airlines from across the region that recently achieved 4 star, 5 star, and World Class status in the APEX Official Airline Ratings. Winners of the APEX 2024 Best In Airline Awards for Central/Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, Greater China, and the South Pacific were also announced during the show. Read more here.
The FTE APEX Asia Expo Networking Ice Breaker
Changi Airport Group hosted the FTE APEX Asia Expo Networking Ice Breaker at Hub & Spoke – Changi Airport’s outdoor recreation hub next to Terminal 2. Attendees enjoyed food and drinks with live music, and had the opportunity to network with peers in both indoor and al-fresco settings at Hub & Spoke. In addition, bicycle rides and guided buggy tours were available throughout the evening to take visitors through the Jurassic Arc and Changi Jurassic Mile – to showcase how Changi Airport innovates to delight passengers beyond conventional indoor terminal spaces.
FTE APEX Asia Expo Reception & Awards After Party
The FTE APAC Pioneer Awards 2023 ceremony was followed by the FTE APEX Asia Expo Reception & Awards After Party, sponsored by Intelsat, which took place on Level 4 of the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre. The event provided a perfect opportunity for attendees to network in a relaxed environment following a busy first day and culminated with a viewing of the spectacular Spectra outdoor light and water show.
Changi Airport Terminal 2 tour
FTE APEX Asia Expo 2023 Headline Partner Changi Airport Group facilitated guided tours of the all-new Terminal 2. The terminal recently fully reopened, following a three-and-a-half-year transformation journey to increase handling capacity, enhance facilities and bring in more efficient systems. The T2 expansion project has added 15,500sqm to the terminal building to support additional infrastructure, new systems and more retail offerings. Undoubted highlights of the tour included a 14m-tall digital display in the departure hall, dubbed ‘The Wonderfall’. Meanwhile, inside the departure transit area, a brand-new garden – Dreamscape – has an array of plants amid a meticulously landscaped backdrop, brought alive by a ‘digital sky’ which changes its hues depending on the time of day.
Mark your diary for FTE APEX Asia Expo 2024 – Singapore, 19-20 November
The free to attend FTE APEX Asia Expo will return to the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore on 19-20 November 2024. Mark your diary today! Find out more information about the event here.