Blockchain travel platform Winding Tree has teamed with Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ national carrier, to provide logistical support for the airline’s distribution system.
Founded in June 2017, Winding Tree enables startups and companies to gain direct access to travel service providers’ offerings without the need for intermediaries. It connects buyers and sellers via a set of smart contracts and open-source tools in a non-rent-seeking manner without taking a transaction fee. At the same time, the participants of the Winding Tree platform are able to govern the platform collaboratively. The platform already boasts numerous airlines including Air France-KLM, Lufthansa and subsidiary Eurowings, Swiss Air, Swissport, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Air New Zealand.
Etihad Airways is the second-largest airline in the United Arab Emirates. It operates more than 1,000 flights per week to over 120 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas, with a fleet of 117 Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
The Winding Tree partnership will enable Etihad Airways to bypass “overpriced” third-party operators that are handling inventories, including flight times, travel itineraries, and baggage tracing.
“Winding Tree is obviously our distribution (platform) and that’s an opportunity for us to disrupt a traditionally siloed market dominated by major distribution systems,” Tristan Thomas, Etihad’s director of digital and innovation, told Reuters. “Very few have chosen to disrupt the distribution world and that’s because those are major players with very significant margins that have acted to keep that kind of a closed shop.”
Pedro Anderson, Winding Tree’s chief operating officer and co-founder, said that while the platform is not aimed at retail consumers, the fact that intermediaries’ fees are being bypassed ultimately means lower costs.
“Anybody who has traveled today knows that it’s not the most pleasant experience. The entire process is backwards,” Anderson said. “We have been doing experiments and new solutions on the platform. Ultimately, that benefits the consumer. When there’s innovation, you start to have disruption, you have competition which results in better prices for the consumer.”
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