Emirates is to start accepting Bitcoin as a payment service for customers to purchase flights. Along with other digital solutions, the move is part of the airline’s new strategy to develop methods of engaging with its customers.

Embracing new technologies
Emirates, the Dubai-based carrier, has announced that it plans to accept Bitcoin as a valid form of currency in exchange for flight tickets shortly. Along with the airline’s launch of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to be traded through its websites, the move is part of a new strategy announced by the airline to broaden its capabilities of engaging with its existing passengers while attracting new customers to its services.
In a media gathering held at the Arabian Travel Market this week, the Chief Operating Officer of Emirates, Adel Ahmed Al-Redha, stated that the airline would be onboarding new employees who will be focused on blockchain-related projects such as crypto-payments, blockchain tracking, metaverse, and the trading of NFT collectibles.

Just last month, in a statement, Emirates announced its intention to launch NFT collectibles and develop exciting experiences in the metaverse for its customers and employees alike. Last month, the carrier announced that its EXPO 2020 pavilion in Dubai would be repurposed as an NFT development center.

The airline’s Dubai Expo Pavilion is to be repurposed for NFT development work. Photo: Emirates

Increasing use of the metaverse
According to Al-Redha, the airline is looking into using blockchain to track aircraft records. Additionally, he also noted that Emirates is looking to use the metaverse to transform its processes such as operations, training, website sales, and other airline-related experiences into the digital world.

During the media address, Al-Redha was keen to point out that NFTs and metaverse are just two different applications and approaches being employed by the airline to make the engagement experience with customers more interactive.
Emirates will hire new staff for metaverse and the NFT collectibles and will develop applications to monitor customer needs and expectations more closely. The ability of its customers to use the crypto-currency Bitcoin as a form of payment through its websites has the potential to open up new markets for the airline and make itself more attractive to a broader potential customer base.

Emirates is embracing new digital technologies for the benefits they offer to the airline and its passengers. Photo: Emirates

New technologies for a new age
Simple Flying first examined the potential for crypto-currency usage in commercial air travel in March 2021. AirBaltic became the first airline to accept BItcoin as an acceptable form of currency back in 2014. It has since followed this up with the sale of its own trading scheme for NFT collectibles, known as ‘planies’.

The trading of NFTs is becoming something of a fad in the aviation world. Both Qantas and Air Europa are just two recent examples of airlines that have announced their own NFT trading schemes in the past months. You can read more here about why NFTs are potentially the future for airline ticket sales while offering airlines unrivaled new opportunities for profitability and growth.

airBaltic was the first airline to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment for flights in 2014. Photo: airBaltic

Numerous airlines and airports worldwide are now believed to be developing the wave of new technologies available to improve their service offering to customers. With this latest announcement, Emirates believes that embracing the latest technologies now will better prepare it for the future in the new digital age of air travel.

With demand for air travel increasing rapidly following the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, the airline is taking what it believes to be the necessary steps to meet the emerging opportunities offered by such technologies head-on.