Turkish Airlines (THY) has announced it will cooperate with Plug and Play, a platform that connects startups with corporations. Turkey's flag carrier said in a statement: "As an anchoring member of Plug and Play's Travel and Hospitality Acceleration Program, THY will help select the most promising startups working on next generation travel, hospitality products and services."
Ali Serdar Yakut, THY's chief corporate development and IT officer, said: "In response to increasing complexity and the rising number of emerging technologies, every sector needs to adapt."
"We have recently established the Digital Innovation Unit to execute new ideas that create business value using new technologies. This unit focuses on very high impact, strategic opportunities that need to be proven before an investment decision can be made." He continued, saying, "We investigate, evaluate, experiment and build disruptive technologies in the customer experience. Open innovation and collaboration are the main tools for us to succeed; we build, develop and manage relationships with key players in the ecosystem." Yakut also emphasized that "this partnership with Plug and Play is one of our strategic attempts to act, think, and build with startups."
Amir Amidi, managing partner of the Plug and Play's Travel Program, said: "We are very pleased to have THY join our travel platform. I've had the pleasure of flying with them on several occasions and it has always been a pleasant experience. "In 2016, we will work closely with the Turkish Airlines Innovation Team to collaborate with leading startups in the IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, and augmented or virtual reality technologies as they relate the technology roadmap of THY," Amidi said.
Plug and Play is nurturing innovation in a wide range of industries while THY focuses more on innovations in the travel sector.
The Travel and Hospitality Program aims to discover, support and scale technologies that are defining the future of travel and hospitality. Aligned with THY's goals for open innovation, Plug and Play will accept 20 to 30 startups in each of its two Travel and Hospitality classes of 2016.
Startups accepted into the three-month program will receive mentoring opportunities with leaders in the travel and hospitality sector across all verticals; including hotels, airlines, online travel agencies, cruise lines and global distribution systems.
The Travel and Hospitality Accelerator is a three-month program designed for early stage and growth stage startups. Qualified companies are developing solutions in various stages of travel, including choosing, planning a trip, booking, and en route and post-trip activities. Participating startups receive mentoring opportunities and exposure to investors as well as potential pilot opportunities with corporate partners.
Established in 1933 with a fleet of five aircraft, today the Star Alliance member THY is a four-star airline with a fleet of 305 passengers and cargo aircraft, flying to 285 destinations worldwide with 236 international and 49 domestic destinations.
According to the Skytrax Survey of 2015, THY was chosen as "Europe's Best Airline" for the fifth time and as the "Best Airline in Southern Europe" for the seventh consecutive time. Having won the world's "Best Economy Catering Service" in 2010, THY also received the world's "Best Business Catering Service" in 2013 and the "Best Business Catering Service" award in 2014. Most recently, in 2015 THY was awarded the world's "Best Business Class Lounge Dining" and "Best Business Airline Lounge" prizes as the result of the 2015 Skytrax Survey.