World Aviation Festival features Air Asia, Emirates, JetBlue, more
The World Aviation Festival 2019, one of the planet’s largest aviation and travel technology shows will be taking place in London from September 4-6.
The festival started in 2003 with the World Low Cost Airlines Congress, when low-cost carriers were changing the industry with revolutionary business strategies.
Soon, the event started growing, and now it's one of the world’s largest aviation shows. The agenda has more than ten different content streams, that cater to every part of the aviation ecosystem.
New business models are at the heart of the event programme as 400 expert executive speakers from the world’s leading airlines and aerospace technology companies help the aviation industry keep up with new changes in the market and translate them into actionable take-aways, that drive innovation, experience and revenue.
As an official media partner to the event, here are three speakers Gigabit Magazine is excited to hear from over the three day experience:
Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, Air Asia
A “music man turned airline man with a passion for low fares”, Fernandez took over Air Asia when it was a failing subsidiary of the Malaysian government-owned conglomerate DRB-Hicom. 18 years later, the country’s first “budget airline” won over 15 awards in 2018 and posted revenues in excess of $238mn per month.
Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates
With over 17 years at the helm of the UAE’s state-owned luxury airline, Clark is a giant in the field of commercial aviation. He was also a managing director of ShriLankan Airlines until 2008. Last year, Clark was named “Aviation and Transport Business Leader of the Year” at the Gulf Business Awards 2018.
Joanna Geraghty, President and COO, JetBlue
Geraghty, who has served in her current position for just over a year, serves as President and COO of US domestic airline JetBlue, which has been in operation since 2000. Under her leadership, the airline is making waves about opening a route to London. “London is on the top of the list that is not served,” Geraghty tells Runway Girl Network. “It’s no big secret we’ve been looking at the A321LR. It’s within our Airbus contract,” she said in March. The World Aviation Festival may be the best place to get firsthand confirmation of her plans for the company.
Who Will Be the Next Tech Giant to Back Bitcoin?
PayPal was the first truly major tech giant to throw its weight behind Bitcoin, unveiling a cryptocurrency buying-and-selling service in October. Next was Tesla, which shocked onlookers in February by announcing the purchase of $1.5 billion in bitcoin, as well as plans to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.
Since then, things have calmed down as far as Big Tech and Bitcoin are concerned (although a number of banks have rolled out cryptocurrency investment services for their wealthier clients). This raises the question: when will another significant tech firm take the plunge and back bitcoin?
This is a difficult question to answer, if only because the bitcoin market is in something of a funk right now. At the same time, regulators worldwide are looking to restrict crypto in the name of curbing money laundering and other illicit activities. Nonetheless, rumours continue to swirl through the sector that a few other important names in the tech industry may be on the cusp of embracing bitcoin, with Apple being the most notable.
Is Apple Buying Bitcoin?
If you tend to spend any amount of time on Crypto Twitter, you may be aware of rumours to the effect that Apple has recently bought something in the region of $2.5 billion in bitcoin.
Such rumours were almost certainly a desperate attempt to boost the price of bitcoin. And given that the market didn’t witness a sudden, dramatic rise (but rather a steep loss), it seems pretty clear that Apple didn’t buy a substantial quantity of bitcoin in the past few weeks or so.
That said, there remains a good chance that Apple will enter the cryptocurrency sector at some point, even if it won’t be adventurous enough to buy crypto for itself. Back in May, it placed a job ad for a business development manager for “alternative payments.”
Such a manager would be tasked with cultivating partnerships with “strategic alternative payment providers,” implying that Apple may be weighing up the possibility of launching its own cryptocurrency-purchasing service (à la PayPal) via Apple Pay.
Needless to say, it would be huge for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency if the Cupertino company were to follow through with this.
Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook?
Rumours have also revolved around possible bitcoin interest from Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, although there’s a little less substance to most of these rumours.
Back in October former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Raoul Pal predicted that Microsoft (along with Apple) would buy bitcoin in five years. Unfortunately, a CNN interview with Microsoft’s Brad Smith in February (shortly after Tesla’s bitcoin purchase) revealed that the company had no plans to purchase crypto, although Smith vaguely hinted that it might one day change its collective mind.
More interestingly, Amazon purchased three cryptocurrency-related domain names back in 2017: amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com. Nothing has been heard since then, while a job listing from February of this year revealed that the retail giant may be planning to launch its very own digital currency.
Facebook is another tech firm with plans for its own digital currency (Diem, formerly known as Libra). As for whether it’s likely to turn to bitcoin, a few relatively respected figures within the cryptocurrency industry (e.g. Alistair Milne) did spread rumours in April that the social media company would disclose bitcoin holdings on its Q1 financial statement. This didn’t happen, although Mark Zuckerberg did reveal in May that one of his pet goats is called “Bitcoin,” fuelling further speculation as to his and his firm’s interest in the cryptocurrency.
Risks and Rewards of Cryptocurrency
Again, it’s arguable that some or most of the rumours are generated largely to pump crypto prices. But if bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do continue to appreciate in value and attract more adoption, it will become increasingly harder for large tech companies to ignore them.
But at the moment, it’s likely that most major tech firms will shy away from actually buying bitcoin, if only because it remains highly volatile and unpredictable as an asset. And as we saw with Tesla, buying a massive chunk of the cryptocurrency effectively turns you into a hedge fund overnight, something which can adversely affect your stock price if bitcoin goes down.
Even so, there’s clearly a considerable amount of money tied up in the cryptocurrency market. And with numbers of holders growing every year, it’s only a matter of time before other big tech firms attempt to siphon off some of this value for themselves.