Anko van der Werff

A screenshot from Avianca CEO Anko van der Werff’s interview with APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader as part of Inmarsat Aviation’s FlightPlan online event.

Register now for Inmarsat Aviation’s FlightPlan: Charting a Course into the Future all-day broadcast in collaboration with APEX to find out how Avianca’s CEO, Anko van der Werff, believes the COVID-19 pandemic will affect both his airline and the aviation industry.

Pre-COVID-19, Avianca was in a very strong position. The carrier celebrated its 100th anniversary in December 2019, becoming only the second in the world to do so, after KLM. At the 2020 APEX Regional Passenger Choice Awards, Avianca was voted “Best Overall” airline in South America, and was recognized as a “five star major regional airline” for the third year in a row as part of APEX’s 2020 Official Airline Ratings. It is also ranked in the top five airlines as part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Despite these numerous accolades, what drives Avianca’s CEO, Anko van der Werff, is the amount he feels the airline can still do to improve. In an interview with APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader, which will be broadcast during Inmarsat Aviation’s online FlightPlan event on April 29, van der Werff revealed that he feels COVID-19 offers an opportunity to sharpen the focus on the customer experience: “I think a lot of airlines probably could and should use this time to reflect – What airline are we? What’s our product? Who is our customer and how are we going to look after that customer to ensure they remain loyal to our brand?”

For Avianca, the answers to the above questions lie in the realm of digital innovation. The carrier has already taken many steps to overhaul its digital experience, from introducing Carla, one of Colombia’s first chatbots, with Accenture in 2017; to partnering with FirstHive and Tata Consultancy Services earlier this year in a bid to deliver a more personalized travel experience for customers.

During his FlightPlan interview, van der Werff details the different ways in which Avianca continues to incorporate digital technology across the passenger journey, and discusses how its timelines could be affected by COVID-19. “For us, I think the integration of technology will become even more important. It was something we were working on, but it will definitely become more important moving forward,” he said.

Throughout their session, Leader and van der Werff also talk about how environmental sustainability is being affected by the coronavirus outbreak and how governments and regulators can come together during times of change.

Take a look at the FlightPlan agenda to see when you can hear from airline CEOs like van der Werff, as well as leading industry bodies, analysts and journalists, or browse the “What We’re Made Of” campaign to see how other APEX members are dealing with COVID-19.