Aircraft Cabin Management

Global passenger experience industry gathers at AIX and WTCE Virtual  

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) welcomed 3,016 attendees to its virtual platform from 14-16 September, reuniting cabin interiors and onboard service professionals from across the globe.

Joining from 160 countries around the world, participants took advantage of invaluable sourcing, networking and learning opportunities. Demonstrating the importance of the event, more than 148 airline, lessor and rail operating companies, including Qantas, Ryanair, Emirates, Lufthansa, LATAM, Ethiopian Airlines and American Airlines joined the platform to meet with exhibitors and discover products and conference sessions, tailored to their needs.

With the ongoing challenges facing the global travel industry, the appetite to connect and reignite business opportunities was clearly evident. Over three days, the platform facilitated 1,124 high-quality meetings, helping to not only reconnect the industry as it rebuilds but create new business opportunities for 150+ exhibiting companies.

Speaking about the networking opportunities offered by the virtual platform, CEO and founder of Aviationscouts Thomas Bulirsch said: “We had a fantastic number of online meetings during the event and developed a lot of new leads. It was just great touching base with many of our customers after such a long time without AIX. Great show, great feedback from our visitors and great new opportunities.”

Alan Casey, VP of global sales, marketing and business development at Zim Aircraft Seating, added: “It was a great platform, well-constructed and easy to use. We had a high interest level in our product showcases, leading to drop-in meetings. The potential for future business is very high after participating at AIX Virtual 2021. It was great to see like-minded companies sharing data and exploring new avenues for collaboration.”

Almost 2,000 hours of educational content viewed 

A packed line-up featuring more than 100 industry experts provided 30 sessions of on-trend educational content across three conference streams. Visitors could tune into live and on-demand sessions, watching 1,931 hours of content over the course of the show.

At the Passenger Experience Conference, attendees heard experts from All Nippon Airways (ANA), Airbus, JetBlue Airways, flypop, Panasonic Avionics, Heathrow Airport, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa Group, Icelandair, Diehl Aviation and Boeing as they tackled a wide range of topics including how to put the passenger at the heart of the journey in the digital age; collaborative cabin solutions; accessibility; the emergence of new cabins, new routes and even new airlines; and how the latest onboard service interiors solutions are addressing evolving passenger needs.

Tailored sessions for the global cabin interiors and onboard services community also ran across the three days, with AIX Sessions welcoming senior airline leaders and suppliers representing British Airways, Play, Flyr, Lufthansa Technik AG, Sekisui Kydex, International Air Transport Association (IATA), Cirium, Diehl Aviation, Safran and the Young African Aviation Professional Association. Here, panels discussed the impact of the pandemic; the importance of collaborative thinking between the business aviation and commercial airline interior sectors; the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion; and sustainability, and the role start-ups can play in helping the industry meet its all-important targets.

Produced in partnership with Onboard Hospitality Magazine, Taste of Travel returned to give onboard services professionals fresh insights from The Aviation Sustainability Forum, NowNewNext, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic, Westjet, Qatar Airways, LSG Group, and Singapore Airlines. Covering everything from sustainability trends; new catering concepts; food allergies and wellness; careers and rebuilding passenger confidence, the sessions helped attendees understand the macro trends that will affect their business in the coming year, and how they can flex their business to meet changing passenger demands.

825+ products and solutions on display

Bringing the show floor to life in a new digital format, the virtual events brought together over 150 companies representing the full supply chain of cabin interior and onboard services, with more than 825 products on show. At AIX Virtual, this spanned a wide range of categories including IFEC hardware, connectivity and communications, new seating concepts and a range of material and coating solutions. While at WTCE Virtual, the latest food and drink products, food service equipment, hygiene, packaging and onboard retail solutions were on display.

As a first time exhibitor, Sean Colombon, vice-president at ECO Wheat Collection, said the show passed all of his expectations, adding: “It has been a wonderful event for us. From the meetings we had, literally, every party showed positive interest in our products. We already have physical appointments planned with three of the parties. Every meeting for us has been a successful meeting.”

Meanwhile, ELAG Group director Silvan Elsesser added: “It has been possible to set up meetings ahead of time, which is great. Having ecological and hygienic solutions, there has been an overwhelming interest from the airlines we have spoken to. And, the support from the organisers has been great. The platform has been very well explained, and tips were given as to how to get the most out of the event.”

Commenting on the success of the event, Reed Exhibitions event director Polly Magraw said: “It’s been fantastic to bring the AIX and WTCE experience to screens around the world in 2021. Over three packed days of networking and business meetings, industry professionals have been able to come together and share experiences, learnings, make valuable connections and hear from industry experts. Now more than ever, as the industry looks to recover, we can’t wait to return to Hamburg in 2022 to welcome and support our industry face to face.”

Aviation Business News, the publisher of Aircraft Cabin Management magazine, has produced a digital overview of the show that features comments and input from a number of exhibitors and attendees.

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