A Fresh Look for Airline Shopping

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Here is our weekly curation of the top news on travel innovation, trends and startups:

  • Taxis taking the skies. United has just made another investment into a possible future mode of mobility – airborne taxis. The American firm just put $15 million into EVE Air Mobility alongside a conditional purchase agreement for 200 four-seat electric aircraft plus 200 options. It comes just one month after a $10 million deposit for Archer Aviation’s similarly sized air taxi. While the tech to make this flying taxi isn’t around just yet, there is certainly a lot of financial commitment flying around, so catching a cab could become very different very soon.
  • The making of a global hero. In a massive transaction deal, worth a total value of €82 million, Wirtualna Polska Holding has acquired Hungarian online travel agency Szallas Group. Founded in 2007, Szallas Group has been paving the way forward in CEE, pioneering booking processes in the region – ranging from accommodation to spa packages, tours and activities and more. After showing how to walk the walk, the firm has been snapped up by the brand behind Poland’s online travel and tourism services and will reach new global heights. Well done!
  • A perfect year? 12 months. 12 acquisitions. Yes, that’s right. It might seem surreal, but it’s been a busy year for Australian-based Intrepid Travel who has just taken over its 12th business this year, Joob, making it 12 in 12 months. Since 2019, the adventure travel firm has grown its range in Australia by 45% and their growth journey has been one for the memory banks.
  • Cruising emission free. From carbon emissions and plastic pollution to workers rights and enviro-social impact, cruise ship operators have had a lot of criticism. Now, one Norwegian innovator is set to change the face of the industry, introducing a emission-free fleet. Northern Xplorer plans to begin operations at the start of the 2025-26 season, capitalising on Norway’s decision to ban fossil fuel-powered ships from its world-heritage fjords. The fleet runs on a fully electric propulsion system, making them emission-free and an exciting move towards sustainable travel.
  • Global alliances made. In 2014, two exciting companies hit the travel market, one targeting Europe and the other spreading its wings in Asia. Both have become leading names in their geographies and now they’re teaming up to take on the world. Tiqets, based in Amsterdam and Klook, based in Hong Kong, have announced that they will now be sharing content across the platforms, so customers can book experiences and activities offered by each platform on either site with instant ticketing and multiple languages and payment options, giving travellers more choice and suppliers more visibility. It’s a powerful alliance of two promising companies.
  • Theme parks stay on trend. Despite doom and gloom expectations, theme parks are still a hot topic and it’s been reported that demand and spending is actually exceeding pre-pandemic levels. It’s largely part of a commitment by theme parks to constant reinvention – to introducing new attractions on the regular, to personalising the experience, and betting on return visits for special features rather than simply relying on once-in-a-lifetime travellers.
  • Airline shopping gets a fresh look.It’s been a while since airlines have been trying to ramp up retail offerings – going beyond simple souvenirs to creating enjoyable, personal shopping experiences. But, it’s something that has always felt a little half-hearted. Things are changing though, and now Flyr Labs has acquired German retailing and offer management company Pribas. It’s a deal that will see Flyr’s AI platform enable partners to personalise retail experiences and maximise revenues.