Emirates Airlines are among the largest air carriers in the world, with an extensive fleet operating flights to hundreds of destinations all across the globe. It was established in 1985 with just two aircraft and has been expanding its operations on a global level ever since (Altaf). The airline’s history shows that continuous quality improvement was one of the key factors driving its growth and global success. In particular, innovation enabled the airline to provide unique services to clients and enhance cost-efficiency. Successful innovations management has allowed the company to achieve success and increase profits. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the company has earned 92,322 million AED in revenue, an 8.5% increase from the previous year (The Emirates Group 7). The present paper will seek to discuss the influence of innovation on Emirate’s performance and provide recommendations on how the airline could ensure successful innovations management in the future.
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Innovations of Emirates Airlines
Throughout its history, Emirates Airlines introduced a variety of changes that helped the airline to create more value for money and increase its cost-efficiency, thus earning more profits. The first technological innovation that was implemented by Emirates Airlines was the installation of video systems in all seats of all classes of its aircraft in 1992 (Altaf). In the year that followed, Emirates Airlines also became the first air carrier to enable telecommunications on board (Altaf). Both innovations served to enhance the customer experience by providing new sources of entertainment while also contributing to passenger safety. For instance, video systems could be used to show video instructions for emergencies. The following subsections will review some of the more recent innovations implemented by the airline.
Home check-in is an example of an innovation that serves the sole purpose of improving the quality of customer service. Home Check-in service was introduced in April 2018 in Dubai and enabled customers from anywhere in the Emirate to check-in their baggage online and have it picked up from their home or a hotel (Talib). For passengers arriving in Dubai, the airline also offers a luggage delivery service. Both services aim to relieve the customers of the need to carry their luggage to and from the airport, which is often an unpleasant experience. This also enables the airline to create a good impression on the customers before and after their flight, thus increasing the share of returning customers.
3D printing has become a popular technology in the past few years, but Emirates Airlines were the first air carrier to implement this technology for manufacturing cabin components. According to Nelson, the company pioneered the use of a new 3D printing technique called selective laser sintering to produce video monitor shrouds. Also, the company worked with a European aviation engineering and certification office to implement 3D printing of cabin air vent grills (Nelson). The use of new 3D printing technologies allowed the company to improve cost-efficiency and productivity by reducing production time and resources required for manufacturing.
In 2017, Emirates Airlines partnered with other companies in Dubai to develop an Aviation X-Lab. The lab will aid in developing and implementing various innovations in operations, engineering, ground logistics, and manufacturing to improve customer experience and airline efficiency. By collaborating with other stakeholders, the airline will be able to create new solutions to problems that affect the productivity of the aviation sector and achieve successful innovations management.
Another innovation lab was created by Emirates Airlines in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 2015. Based in Silicon Valley, the lab is connected to the Integrated Innovation Institute (Moore). The lab provided a foundation for the partnership between the airline and the CMU and has already encouraged students to partake in efforts for increasing productivity and customer experience using innovative services and techniques. Moore also mentions that Emirates Airlines partnered with Oxford University in the United Kingdom to create a similar lab focused on research on data science and machine learning. Both partnerships show the company’s commitment to innovation, as well as their desire to inspire young minds and pioneer new technologies in the aviation sector.
QuickTime is an innovative technology that aims to support pilots’ decision-making in severe weather conditions. According to Carey, the technology automatically calculates the impact of weather conditions on de-icing fluids using precision weather sensors. Without this technology, pilots have to make calculations manually, which affects the reliability of estimations and reduces the time between boarding and take-off (Carey). Through the use of this technology, the air carrier can relieve pilots of this task, allowing them to focus on other vital operations instead. Moreover, the increased precision of automatic calculations helps to enhance the safety of passengers and crew members aboard the aircraft.
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Emirates Airlines Foundation
The Emirates Airlines Foundation is a non-profit organization that was established by Emirates Group in 2003. It can also be viewed as the product of Emirate Airlines’ innovativeness, although it has entirely different goals. The charity serves the purpose of improving the quality of life of children from all around the world and focuses mainly on children living in the areas of extreme poverty, childhood illness, and mortality. The organization aims to enhance education and health services while also providing food and housing for children in need. For instance, the Emirates-CHES Home in Chennai, India, provides housing, education, and food to abandoned HIV-positive children in the area (“The Emirates-CHES Home”). The projects are undertaken by the foundation help to transform local communities to make them safer for and more accommodating to the needs of children.
The creation of new projects at the Emirates Airlines Foundation is a thorough process with rigid oversight. However, this does not impact the reach or magnitude of the charity’s efforts. Walid notes that, although every project has to undergo the vetting process, there are no specific criteria regarding partnerships, goals, and target communities. For example, the Emirates Friendship Hospital in Bangladesh is a hospital ship that caters to the health care needs of children living in remote areas that are prone to flooding. The project was inspired by a story of a local woman and her husband, who later became the charity’s partners in the project, which helped to treat hundreds of thousands of children in need of life-saving treatment (Walid). Partnerships with local organizations and individuals, as well as openness to new opportunities, enable the charity to develop its global scope and achieve long-lasting changes in target communities.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The fourth industrial revolution is a term used to describe the upcoming changes in technology and their potential impact on various sectors of the business and the economy. Morgan explains that each Industrial Revolution was triggered by the use of new technologies. For instance, the first Industrial Revolution occurred in 1784 and was prompted by the use of steam, water, and mechanical production equipment, whereas the second Industrial Revolution in 1870 happened due to the division of labor, the use of electricity, and mass production (Morgan). Today, the industry is developing its use of electronics and IT to the extent when cyber-physical systems will cause a new wave of development of the industry.
The merging of physical and digital technologies has already started to impact some business sectors through the popularization of virtual reality and artificial intelligence. As these technologies develop further, they will be integrated into every aspect of people’s lives, including air travel. The development of artificial intelligence will affect the airline sector by reducing the need for human resources. It is possible that in the future, all airline staff, including pilots, can be replaced with artificial intelligence. Additionally, new digital technologies and enhanced use of data could improve the communication between the airline and its customers. For example, the carrier will be automatically alerted about the customers’ allergies and food preferences, and will thus be able to tailor the onboard menu in a way that suits the vast majority of the customers. Lastly, new technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, could help to enhance the safety of air travel. Preventing hijackings and terror attacks can be possible using a detailed analysis of passengers’ data, whereas virtual reality simulations for customers and crew members can improve operations in an emergency.
Recommendations for Innovations
To benefit from the fourth Industrial Revolution, Emirates Airlines must ensure adequate innovations management. Based on the research conducted in the paper, there are four essential recommendations for Emirates Airlines regarding future innovations. First of all, focusing on the customer experience when implementing new technologies is critical. The company should develop technologies that would allow it to provide more value for money, thus attracting more customers. For instance, the company could use new techniques of onboard food and drink delivery to make it quicker and more efficient.
Secondly, the airline should seek to develop new solutions for addressing essential safety threats. Weather conditions, hijackings, poor pilot decisions, and terror attacks all threaten the safety of customers and the crew aboard the aircraft. Using new technologies to increase passenger safety would help Emirates Airlines to maintain the leading position in the market while also encouraging customers to travel more.
Developing innovative technologies is impossible without creating appropriate community partnerships, so Emirates Airlines should continue partnering with higher education institutions worldwide. On the one hand, this allows the company to reserve the right to pioneer new technologies. On the other hand, it would enable Emirates Airlines to enhance its global reach and promote its humanitarian efforts. For example, partnering with educational institutions in India or other developing countries would be a useful way of generating new ideas while also improving the company’s global image.
Emirates Airlines has been pioneering new technologies ever since its launch in 1985. The appropriate use of innovations has contributed to the company’s success by enhancing its productivity and cost-efficiency. Moreover, new technologies, such as Home Check-in, also helped to improve customer experience with the airline before, during, and after the flight. As the fourth Industrial Revolution will transform business operations in all sectors, including aviation, Emirates Airlines has to develop an adequate innovations management strategy for the future. The recommendations provided in this paper will help the company to build on its past success while also enabling a smooth transition into the next era of technological development.
Altaf, Sana. “Emirates Turns 32: A Brief History of UAE’s Favourite Airline.” Khaleej Times. 2017, Web.
Carey, Bill. “CheckTime System Calculates Effectiveness Of Deicing Fluid.” Aviation Week. 2017, Web.
Moore, Tara Rae. “Emirates Group Debuts Silicon Valley-based Innovation Lab in Partnership with Carnegie Mellon.” Carnegie Mellon University. 2015, Web.
Morgan, Jacob. “What Is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?” Forbes. 2016, Web.
Nelson, Christian. “Emirates Pioneers New 3D Printing for Aircraft Parts.” The National. 2017, Web.
Talib, Manna. “Emirates Introduces Home Check-In in Dubai.” Emirates.com. 2018, Web.
“The Emirates-CHES Home.” The Emirates Airline Foundation, 2018, Web.
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The Emirates Group. Annual Report 2017-2018. 2018, Web.
Walid, Tamara. “Flying High: The Emirates Airline Foundation.” Philanthropy Age. 2015, Web.