IAG launches latest Hangar 51 innovation programme

International Airlines Group (IAG) has launched its latest Hangar 51 global innovation programme in collaboration with its subsidiary carriers Iberia, Vueling and IAG Cargo.

The 10-week accelerator nurtures start-ups with a broad range of technologies, enabling them to develop and test their products on a global scale.

At the end of this period, start-ups will showcase their achievements at a Demo Day before an audience comprised of the group’s senior management team and investors.

IAG Cargo is actively pursuing companies with technology that could be applied to freight. This is the second year of a cargo-specific category in the Hangar 51 programme to support IAG Cargo’s innovation agenda.

Carly Morris, Head of Innovation at IAG Cargo, said: “Now, more than ever before, there exists a huge opportunity for new technologies to transform the airfreight industry. IAG Cargo is delighted to once again be part of the Hangar 51 innovation programme and to offer start-ups a chance to embed themselves in our business and develop their ideas on a truly global scale. We are looking forward to working alongside the next generation of disruptive start-up companies to optimise the way we operate and deliver an even better service to our customers.”

This will give them the opportunity to receive potential investment from IAG’s multi-million pound digital fund to grow their business.

Hangar 51 goes beyond what might be offered by a traditional accelerator, IAG said, as successful applicants will be embedded in the heart of the airline group’s business, working side by side with an international team of mentors and experts from across the group.

The initiative will be based in Spain for the second time, following what the carried described as the “huge success” of its previous Spanish programme in 2017.

Start-ups from around the world are invited to join the programme, which will be hosted in the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona.

Hangar 51 has received more than 1,200 start-up applications from around the world since its launch in 2016.

Over the course of the last three years, the Group has invested in five companies as a result of the programme.

This year, the accelerator is welcoming applications in seven categories:

  • Airport operations and logistics, covering smart technologies and robotic processes to optimise performance, safety, efficiency and customer experience
  • Future of customer interaction, covering wearable devices, self-service technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate passengers’ travel from booking to boarding
  • Disruption management, covering innovative solutions and travel management tools to support passengers during disruption that affects airlines’ operations such as air traffic control strikes and adverse weather
  • Future cargo logistics, covering analytics, asset tracking and monitoring tools to optimise cargo operations
  • Sustainability, covering carbon offset, carbon capture and innovative waste management
  • New products and services, covering tech solutions and platforms that can offer innovative travel, loyalty and payment options to customers
  • Wildcard, this category covering any new disruptive ideas that have the potential to reshape the business

Dupsy Abiola, IAG’s head of global innovation, commented: “Hangar 51 supports the next generation of smart thinkers, innovators and change makers in a way that truly matters.

“We can be a rocket ship for companies that are on the cutting edge and need to scale their business.

“As one of the world’s largest airline groups, disruptive start-ups can benefit from our size, global exposure and expertise to help drive faster product innovation,” Abiola said.

“There are no borders and it’s a fertile ground for start-ups to transform the future of travel. Previous programmes have seen applicants from traditional tech hubs, but we’re keen to also tap into emerging markets such as Latin America, Africa and China.

“Hangar 51 goes from strength to strength and we’ve already seen the benefits for our customers through technologies trialled across the Group.”

IAG is the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

It is one of the world’s largest airline groups, its carriers operating a total of 573 aircraft flying to 268 destinations around the world.

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