The popularity of hackathons could speed up innovation in the airline industry
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IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac has called for airlines to be quicker in implementing new ideas. “I am a big believer in speed and innovation,” he says.

“We cannot know the future. But we need to be prepared to react quickly when the environment changes.

"That’s not easy for any business—and it is a real struggle for process-driven industries like air transport.”

Hackathons are one way to make that struggle less arduous.

For two years now, IATA has been holding hackathons around the world focused on stimulating innovative apps and solutions using the New Distribution Capability (NDC). 

It’s about bringing the world of airline distribution from a world of legacy technology with a small number of players, to a world of modern technology

In August, IATA held a hackathon in Silicon Valley, at the offices of LinkedIn, and the latest hackathon took place a few days ago at the École Polytechnique, in Paris.

“This is a simple illustration of what NDC is all about,” says Yanik Hoyles, IATA’s Director NDC Program.

“It’s about bringing the world of airline distribution from a world of legacy technology with a small number of players, to a world of modern technology where anyone can come and build solutions, be creative, and drive innovation.”

Though the use cases available for a hackathon had previously centered on NDC and core travel data sets (and more recently ONE Order), the Paris hackathon broke new ground by including aviation big data.

This significantly increases the potential of the event and the proffered solutions.

It brings IT professionals back to the reason why they work in this profession

IATA itself also had a team of developers participating in the Paris event, although they were ineligible to compete for any of the prizes.

Tim Grosser, IATA’s Head of Digital Transformation, says that participating allows an IT department to experience the benefits of moving from a slow-moving operation to a fast, agile, and finely-tuned machine.

“It brings IT professionals back to the reason why they work in this profession,” he concludes, “having fun building great solutions.”

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