British Airways owner IAG invests in startup Volantio which aims to tackle flight overbooking troubles

Rebecca Smith
IAG worked with startups to develop their ideas
IAG worked with startups to develop their ideas (Source: IAG)

British Airways owner IAG said today it had invested in another startup called Volantio from its accelerator programme as it looks to nose ahead of rivals in a tech drive.

The airline giant said it will invest in US firm Volantio following its successful participation in the Hangar 51 programme, having a multimillion pound investment fund for digital transformation. IAG would not disclose how much it plugged into Volantio, but added that details the next Hangar 51 programme will be unveiled shortly.

The startup has developed a platform called Yana allowing airlines to identify "flexible passengers" on high demand flights and offer them alternative seats on lower demand flights with added incentives.

Read more: IAG has named the high-flying startups for its first accelerator programme

Passengers are notified days in advance of their departure to provide enough time to change their plans accordingly.

So, a preemptive way of avoiding potential headaches with overbooking - and in the extreme, the United Airlines episode where a passenger was dragged off a plane, after refusing to give up his seat to United staff. That incident was then followed by a shake-up of United's booking policy.

The platform created by Volantio uses machine learning algorithms that combine millions of anonymised data points to identify passengers with the highest probability of acceptance, who are then sent personalised offers such as upgrades, travel vouchers and frequent flyer points.

IAG is now working with Volantio to provide more opportunities for its customers.

Glenn Morgan, IAG’s head of digital business transformation, said:

Hangar 51 is a fascinating and mutually valuable opportunity for us to work with start-ups on real business challenges. Volantio has shown us the endless possibilities of how we can transform passengers’ journey and the future of travel. We’re excited to be investing in such an innovative start-up which has the potential to mutually benefit both airlines and passengers.

IAG's backing of Volantio follows investment in two other startups last year from a previous accelerator, Esplorio and Vchain.

Participants chosen for the programme work with industry experts and mentors at IAG, Iberia, Iberia Express and Vueling to test and develop

Read more: British Airways owner IAG has just invested in two travel startups

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