Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjørn Kjos predicted the adoption of blockchain technology will have a “revolutionary impact” on the global airline industry, transforming everything from how passengers purchase tickets to how airlines store data.
“The way we do things will be dramatically different tomorrow,” Kjos said, speaking Sept. 6 to the International Aviation Club in Washington. “It’s important to learn blockchain, because it will bring a revolution to our industry—whether we like it or not. The way we build, the way we pay—everything will change within the next 10 to 15 years.”
Blockchain technology underpins Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies. It uses a distributed ledger protocol to store data and transactions in a series of decentralized, cryptographic blocks. As new blocks are created, they form a chain or blockchain.
Aside from use in cryptocurrencies, blockchain enthusiasts believe the technology can be used in lieu of centralized database systems in a variety of commercial applications. Some potential uses for the commercial airline industry include file storage, payments, loyalty program administration, certification management and MRO service records.
For example, blockchain can simplify maintenance logs, which often are unwieldy databases and sometimes are even stored on paper in binders. By using the new technology, industry could verify that parts are legitimate and record every time a given aircraft part has been handled and by whom.
Blockchain also could be used to streamline passengers’ progress through all airport processes that require the scanning of personal documents. The technology would enable travelers to store their secure biometric profiles on their smartphones as proof of identity that could be certified by airlines and security and border personnel, according to travel technology group SITA.
The comments followed previous moves by the Norwegian CEO to explore the use of blockchain. In April, Kjos launched Norwegian Block Exchange, a planned cryptocurrency exchange that is designed to maintain close ties with Norwegian and assist the airline as it branches out into blockchain adoption.