Thales announced that the winner of Etihad Aviation Group’s inaugural FIKRA competition has successfully completed an internship programme at the Group’s Avionics hub in Irvine, California.
The FIKRA internship programme was launched by Thales in conjunction with Etihad Aviation Group in 2016, with the goal of fostering entrepreneurial skills and innovation among young talents in the UAE. FIKRA which means ‘idea’ in Arabic, is a programme that offers the opportunity for students from universities across the UAE to present innovative solutions that address challenges in the aviation industry, in line with the UAE government’s National Innovation Strategy, which aims to encourage innovation among younger generations.
A Jordanian National studying at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, was one of the winners of the FIKRA ‘Out of the Box’ category, which called for students to submit cutting-edge ideas which could be implemented across businesses within the aviation industry. Following her successful entry, she was posted for three months at Thales. offices at Irvine, California, a supplier of Etihad Airways for In Flight Entertainment systems.
The internship saw the Jordanian student study a number of facets related to ancillary revenues for airlines, driven by her novel concept of ‘Citywalk’ - a service that helps passengers discover and plan their trips from the sky. At Thales, she worked on gathering and identifying the most relevant market data, fine-tuned market forecasts and presented relevant recommendations that could have practical application in the aviation industry.
‘Citywalk’ is a revolutionary technology which utilises artificial intelligence to propose relevant information to passengers based on their profile and preference, which in turn will further strengthen the service standards of airlines and add to the convenience of passengers. For the airline, Citywalk also serves to maximise ancillary revenues by partnering with online travel agencies such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor, applied to inflight entertainment systems.
The FIKRA programme focused on ten areas where students had to propose innovative ideas. These included: digital evolution, stopover visits, ancillary sales opportunities, improving loyalty schemes, specialist cargo, social media, youth engagement, airport experience and the environment. More than 5,012 students took part in the competition.
The winning idea by the Jordanian winner utilises an algorithm to auto-plan an itinerary for Etihad guests based on responses to a selection of multi-choice questions about the destination they will be travelling to. The judging committee observed that the idea demonstrated great creative acumen and had the potential to be monetised.
“We are committed to supporting young talents whose innovative ideas can help transform our industry, especially in this digital era. The winning idea has the potential for enhancing the operational efficiency and revenues of airlines while contributing to greater passenger convenience. Through the internship at our In-Flight centre, we were able to offer our years of experience to further hone her idea and we look forward to watching her further develop her talent in the future. At Thales, we are committed to supporting the UAE and Middle East as they work towards making their regional visions a reality, and we look forward to driving similar initiatives to help deliver this.”
Bernard Roux, VP Country Director, Thales in UAE
Tristan Thomas, Etihad Aviation Group Director of Digital and Innovation, said: “We strongly believe in nurturing the future talent of the aviation industry and we are proud to partner with Thales on the Fikra initiative which has already engaged with thousands of students. We aim to foster a spirit of innovation throughout Etihad and initiatives such as Fikra support this philosophy and ultimately the UAE’s vision of becoming a global aerospace hub.”
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© Press Release 2018