New data-protection rules being introduced in Europe could create opportunities for airlines, in the view of Finnair commercial chief Juha Jarvinen.

During a panel session at the FT Business of Aerospace & Aviation Summit in London on 18 April, Jarvinen discussed the challenges presented by the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as recent controversies over harvesting of Facebook data.

GDPR, to be enforced from 25 May, could significantly affect airlines and airports as it allows little accessibility to customer's information without prior approval – with implications for loyalty programmes.

"It will to an extent limit our ability to utilise the data... We have to ask new consent from our loyalty members," Jarvinen acknowledged. But he adds: "We are utilising the opportunity to get wider opportunities to use the data, so we have turned the challenge into an opportunity there."

Notwithstanding the constraints imposed by GDPR, there remains scope for airlines to add value via digitalisation, argues Jarvinen.

"I think another area for airlines we have neglected as an industry is the in-flight part, including the long-haul part," he says. "In any other business, you would try to utilise that time efficiently... in a new modern way."

During the summit, augmented reality – or virtual reality – utilising in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) was highlighted as a means of offering customers a unique travel experience.

Source: Cirium Dashboard