The German airline Hahn Air has partnered with open-source travel distribution platform Winding Tree to issue tickets enabled by the latter's blockchain technology.
Claiming the title as the first airline to fly an individual holding a blockchain-powered ticket on Monday, Hahn Air sent three passengers from Dusseldorf to Luxembourg.
The platform allows the airline to list inventory, manage the reservation requests, and receive payments once the booking process is complete. Accepted payment methods are cash, credit card, or cryptocurrency -- Ether or Winding Tree's own token, Lif.
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Hahn Air head of corporate strategy and government & industry affairs Jörg Troester told ZDNet his organisation's goal is to investigate and monitor the opportunities this technology holds for travel distribution, even if widespread acceptance is still a vision of the future.
"We at Hahn Air are constantly exploring new technologies," Troester said.
"With the first blockchain-based ticket, we've established that we are ready to apply the new technology and that we have the technical capability to generate Hahn Air tickets through blockchain-based channels."
The airline believes blockchain holds many benefits, with one being that all market participants such as airlines, travel companies, and hospitality distribution systems can connect and exchange transactions without the need for intermediaries.
Hahn Air said consumers will ultimately benefit from a reduction in costs and an increase in travel options thanks to this platform.
"The technology is also 100% secure. All of the necessary information is stored in a decentralised ledger which is verified by millions of sources and therefore cannot be changed or tampered with," Troester continued.
"Due to more companies being able to connect more easily, transaction fees will be likely to get lower. And as more companies can partner with each other more easily, there will be more travel options and more possible combinations. Consumers can also book more travel services of different types through one single source."
Despite the activity being deemed a success, Troester told ZDNet that although Hahn Air believes blockchain will have a massive impact in the long run, the airline does not see a commercial perspective for the immediate future.
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"We'll need to do further testing and need to monitor the development of blockchain before we can offer this distribution channel to our partner airlines," he said.
Winding Tree is also working with the likes of Lufthansa Group, AFKLM, Air Canada, and Air New Zealand on the application of its technology within their respective organisations.
"Implementing the technology takes a nimble approach and trying new things, each is at their own level at the moment," Winding Tree COO and co-founder Pedro Anderson told ZDNet.
Although Winding Tree was created for facilitating innovation in travel, Anderson said the company has solutions that are applicable beyond travel.
"ORG.ID for example, which is a decentralised KYB solution or digital passport for businesses without a central authority, is a solution that is really needed outside of travel as well," he explained. "The tech is free and open-source so I anticipate usage going being the travel purpose we've created it for."