Bluebox and dnata Announce In-Flight Retail Partnership


Image via Bluebox Aviation Systems

Bluebox and dnata’s partnership, announced yesterday, means airlines can generate ancillary revenue by selling meals and other products via Bluebox’s virtual trolley.

In-flight entertainment (IFE) provider Bluebox Aviation Systems and dnata’s catering branch are pooling resources to develop and market joint product and service offerings across Australasia and Asia-Pacific territories. The companies will tailor their products and processes in alignment with customer branding, content and ancillary payments requirements.

“In the present climate our customers need solutions that are simple and quick to deploy.” – Duncan Greeney, dnata

The evolving need for touchless solutions in the COVID-19 era was a key driver of the partnership, which will enable touch-free payments for on-board retail. Additionally, the partnership will facilitate the digitization of materials that support onboard sales, including digital menus and magazines, which generate revenue streams via advertising.

“We’re enabling each other to offer more to our airline customers – which in turn enables them to offer enhanced services to their passengers,” Catherine Brown, head of Marketing at Bluebox told APEX Media.

“With COVID-19 precautions, airlines may not provide a trolley service, and without a solution like ours the whole act of ordering could be more complicated and frustrating for passengers.” – Catherine Brown, Bluebox Aviation Systems

Duncan Greeney, general manager of Retail at dnata, explained how the partnership will create solutions that are easy for airlines to use and portray an illusion of seamlessness to customers. “Integrating complex systems – in this case an IFE platform and catering logistics – can actually be quite complex technically, and in the present climate our customers need solutions that are simple and quick to deploy,” he said.

According to Brown, airlines that use dnata catering but don’t yet have IFE would be able to offer meals and shopping via Bluebox’s virtual trolley, and add on IFE. Conversely, Bluebox’s IFE customers would be able to integrate the dnata catering offering into the user interface, making what was an entertainment platform even more engaging.

“But importantly,” Brown said, “with COVID-19 precautions – reduced interaction with cabin crew in particular – airlines may not provide a trolley service through the cabin, and without a solution like ours the whole act of ordering food and drinks, or buying duty-free, could be more complicated and frustrating for passengers. Being able to do so via their own devices will help normalize their in-flight experience for passengers.

In practice, passengers would connect their smartphones or tablets to Bluebox’s wireless platforms and navigate to an airline-branded homepage. From there they can explore a wide range of IFE and other services.

“We initially expect opportunities for our Bluebox Wow portable wireless IFE system – given the demand for simple, rapid deployment in the current environment. This could be for the battery-powered version, but also for our aircraft-powered version, which provides a low-cost alternative to fitted wireless systems,” Brown explained.