As EasyJet looks to find the next big thing in travel technology, the company has made a “multimillion pound” investment into a start-up accelerator and incubator created by the founders of Lastminute.com.
Alongside Founders Factory, an accelerator and incubator created by Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox, the five-year deal will see the U.K. airline invest in and help scale five early-stage start-ups and create two new companies from scratch each year.
Among the founding team of event booking website Lastminute.com were Hoberman and Fox.
“It’s an opportunity to connect talent with companies that can drive new opportunities that we are perhaps not looking at today,” James Millett, head of digital at easyJet, told CNBC by phone on Monday.
Founders Factory which will invests in the start-ups, will have EasyJet where the airliner will take an equity stake. To identify the investment opportunities, an investment team that would comprise of three easyJet executives and three members of the Founders Factory will work together.
There are “no immediate plans” of easyJet to eventually acquire the start-ups, Millett said even as the company is taking stakes in start-ups.
“I think at this stage we are looking at solving problems with potential upside,” Millett said. E-commerce, payments, artificial intelligence and analytics are the interesting areas for the company to explore, he added.
Including Aviva and L’Oreal, a number of other corporate also backs Founders Factory. Start-ups in their specific field will be lookout for by each organization. Over the next five years across six sectors, Founders Factory will develop 200 early stage technology companies.
On the other hand, with a flight time of just 11 hours and 30 minutes, Finnair, the government backed airline of Finland, claims to be the fastest way to get between Singapore and Europe as the airline makes its inaugural flight between Singapore and Helsinki.
Compared to its aluminum long-range competitors, like Boeing’s B777, the new route uses its new fleet of Airbus A350 XWBs, a widebody aircraft that claims to use 25-percent less fuel. Passengers are offered 18-inch wide seats as the standard in economy in the aircraft which first entered the market last year.
The first European airline to fly the aircraft between Europe and Asia is Finair. With layovers as little as 35 minutes to major hubs including London, Paris and Amsterdam, Finnair is boasting that the route provides regional travelers with the shortest connection between Asia and Europe as part of its marketing strategy.
Experience specific to Finland, including the aircraft design, on board menu, and a Northern Lights-inspired mood lighting, would be offered to the passengers by the airline, which it hopes will help it to get passengers.
Making it the largest investment in the airline’s history, Finnair will have a total of 19 Airbus A350s in operation. From its 2010 baseline, the company aims to double its Asian traffic by 2020.
More passengers will be drawn to Helsinki, the airline is hoping. “Stopover Helsinki” which allows visitors to stay, as a layover, for anywhere between five hours to up to five days was launched by it earlier this year.
(Adapted from CNBC)