Singapore Airlines inks partnerships to drive digital ambition

Singapore's national carrier has signed partnership agreements with the country's research and trade agencies to explore opportunities in areas such as data analytics and IoT, to improve efficiencies.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has inked several partnerships in a bid to drive its digital transformation and and tap new technologies to improve efficiencies.

The national carrier on Monday announced new agreements with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), Economic Development Board (EDB), and National University of Singapore (NUS). These partnerships aimed to help the airline develop digital capabilities to attain operational efficiencies and identify new business opportunities.

SIA in the past couple of years had been rolling out various digital initiatives as well as incorporating associated skillsets in its workplace. The company also was in the midst of setting up a digital innovation lab to enable its employees to work with innovative companies, such as startups, incubators, and accelerators as part of efforts to encourage new ideas and facilitate collaboration.

Last month, it introduced a chatbot to attend to customer queries via its Facebook page and official website. The artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot had been trained to answer queries related to baggage, checkin, online booking, and travelling with special needs such as infants and children.

The airline also announced a three-year plan last October to reevaluate its work processes and operations, with more than 100 employees tasked to work on various projects that included reducing fuel consumption and in-flight food waste.

With the new partnerships, SIA now was looking to tap the various agencies in areas such as research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, to "increase effectiveness and efficiency through digital technology and open innovation".

Its CEO Goh Choon Phong said: "The SIA Group has been investing heavily to enhance our digital capabilities as part of our ongoing transformation efforts and the new bilateral partnerships announced today will take things to the next level.

"With the launch of our Digital Innovation Blueprint, we aim to be the leading digital airline in the world," Goh added.

According to SIA, the partnerships with CAAS and EDB would push for "a vibrant digital aviation and aerospace ecosystem", with the aim to further establish Singapore as a travel and aviation hub in Asia-Pacific.

This would require the digitalisation of the aviation and aerospace ecosystem in order to transform the industry's capabilities, efficiencies, and resiliency, it said.

Specifically, the airline would work with A*Star to identify and develop applied research opportunities, including in the fields of data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), as well as virtual and augmented reality to improve efficiencies in SIA's maintenance processes. The objective here was to build smart applications to reduce maintenance costs as well as aircraft delays, and help improve the airline's service standards.

SIA also would work with NUS to explore longer term research projects focused on addressing business challenges, which currently had no solutions.

In addition, the airline would partner NUS's entrepreneurial arm, NUS Enterprise, to "develop an innovative ecosystem" around digital aviation and travel experience. Both partners would look to create new technologies as well as startups with the aim to solve SIA's businesses challenges via a joint accelerator programme.

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