IAG is launching a platform for start-up disruptive technology companies to work with it to create new solutions.

With Hangar 51, the airline group is working with innovation specialist and early-stage investor L Marks to support entrepreneurs with good ideas and technology to “transform” aviation and “revolutionise the customer experience”.

Hangar 51 offers a 10-week programme to help start-ups enter aviation and trial their products, allowing them to develop quickly.

While the platform currently appears customer-based, IAG Cargo is also eyeing how it can work with new technologies.

New cargo chief Drew Crawley, who joined from the passenger division in January, said there had been a late adoption of technology in the freight business.

“We need to move up two or three gears,” he said at an event last month.

“Distribution and the way people make bookings are ripe for disruption. There are some obvious opportunities. The technology is there to use and it is incumbent upon us, forwarders and shippers to be aware of this.

“We need clean pricing. And we need to really understand the opportunities.”

Hangar 51 will focus on four areas: improving airport processes; digitising business processes; data-driven decisions; and ‘wildcards’ – any idea by start-ups to improve the customer experience.

Start-ups have until November 6 to submit applications at www.hangar51.com.

“This new programme will bring cutting-edge digital start-ups into the heart of our business,” said Glenn Morgan, IAG’s head of digital transformation. “We want them to tell us what we don’t know.

“If start-ups have something that can be applied to our industry to help our customers then we want to hear from them.

“This initiative is a great opportunity for early-stage businesses to fast-track innovative ideas by working closely with IAG. We’ll fully support them, through mentoring and funding, to improve customer journeys with new disruptive and innovative ideas.”

The move follows a similar drive by Lufthansa, which launched an Innovation Hub in 2014 and said at the time that it intended to invest €500m in innovation by 2020.

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