“How can we incentivize people to fly again? What can we change or improve onboard? How can we develop a new boarding procedure for our A320 Aircraft? What client facing processes can we implement in the airport? How can we avoid, prevent, or identify COVID-19 carriers? These and other questions are those that we want all the innovators that want to participate to present solutions and pertinent proposals for,” says Viva Air Labs founder Clyde Hutchinson.

Viva Air, through its Viva Air Labs innovation lab, is making a pitch to travel tech brands and thinkers: develop concepts that can encourage travelers to feel the good about flying again.

The winning proposal, along with a successful implementation of the concept in Colombia, Peru or Miami, destinations where Viva Air flies, is promised a $10,000 prize.

“The inspiration for the proposal came from Viva Air senior management, who are first and foremost passionate about travel and democratizing it for all,” Clyde Hutchinson, the founder of Viva Air Labs, told Kambr Media. “We recognize that people might be nervous about travel given the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, therefore preventing them from connecting with family and doing business.”

Looking To A Post-Coronavirus World

This is Viva Air Lab’s first of what is expected to be a number of industry-wide initiatives directed at addressing COVID-19’s devastating impact on travel and hospitality.

As the virus continues to ravage business and life around the world, the thought of being able to fly appears to most people like an impossible pipe dream.

To reverse the fear that many would-be travelers will carry with them when regular carrier service starts to return,  Viva Air Labs’ isn’t just aiming at recapturing what is now a distant past of airline operations and passenger service.

Rather, the aim is to improve on the digital retailing efforts Viva Air and others have made. Viva Air Labs’ ultimate objective involves finding ways of making flights more affordable and more responsive to fliers’ needs as well as new expectations for comfort and safety.

Viva Air operates national and international flights to more than 25 destinations in Colombia, Peru, and the U.S.

During 2019, the airline transported more than 6 million passengers and is inaugurating 50 new Airbus A320 aircraft into its operation in the coming months.

Last month, Viva Air suspended its national and international flights from Wednesday, March 25 through Sunday, April 12, offering to our passengers no penalty fees or additional charges.

“Before Covid-19, Latin America was strongest growing aviation market  with 7 percent growth annually,” Hutchison said. “By 2034, passenger numbers were expected to double, leading to $322 billion added to the regional GDP – and Viva Air’s growing fleet is well-placed to enable travel for all.”

For those interested in participating, the contest is open from now until April 16th. (Viva Air Labs is accepting proposals via by video or writing to info@vivaairlabs.com.)

Some of the terms and conditions for those who wish to join and participate in the initiative #VolveremosAVolar (translation: We Will Fly Again):

  • Viva Air Labs will accept proposals from anywhere in the world that can be implemented in Colombia, Peru, and/or Miami (destinations where Viva Air flies)
  • Individuals, businesses, research institutes and nonprofit organizations may participate.
  • Participants may submit multiple proposals
  • The prize will only be paid upon successful implementation of the submitted concept, under conditions such as:
    - Low cost; easy execution in a short time frame; “realistic and practical”; timely and cost effective.
  • The prize can be divided by Viva Air in equal parts if multiple concepts and ideas submitted are implemented successfully as part of this project.
  • If the same concept is presented by more than one participant, the most comprehensive and complete proposal will be recognized.
  • People who work at Viva Air may also participate.

Viva Air Labs' contest: Come up with an idea that will get people flying again, win $10,000

‘How can we incentivize air travel?’

The offer comes as airlines around the world are facing as much as 90 percent reductions in capacity as countries attempt to grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

With most governments issuing mandatory quarantines and strict “social distancing” measures, airlines and hospitality businesses remain largely in limbo.

At the moment, most time at airlines is being spent managing scarce resources. Route planning and revenue management teams’ normal functions have shifted. For the work that still exists, these teams are planning for what’s to come when the COVID-19 virus infection rate begins to ebb.

That’s where Viva Air Labs is concentrating its focus on now.

Viva Air, a low-cost regional airline created the innovation unit in Sept. 2018. The Medellín, Colombia -based carrier is the first – and so far, the only – Latin American airline with its own innovation lab.

The project originated with Ireland’s Propeller Shannon, an accelerator program for startups focused on travel tech and aerospace that supports new businesses far from its home base.

The Propeller Shannon program was a joint initiative between Shannon Group (which runs Shannon Airport, Shannon Heritage, Shannon IASC, and commercial properties around the Shannon region) and Dublin City University’s Ryan Academy.

Propeller had been associated with Irelandia Aviation, Viva Air’s founding parent company and a pioneer of the LCC model, having helped develop Ireland’s Ryanair, the U.S.’s Allegiant Air, Mexico’s VivaAerobus, and Asia-Pacific’s Tigerair.

Up until now, Viva Air Labs had been working on developing payment programs, personalization, data management, and content. While those areas will obviously play an even more essential role in air travel’s comeback, the abrupt and existential challenge airlines face has reordered those priorities, naturally.

“At Viva Air Labs, we have always had a policy of openness, where every idea counts and is valued. Furthermore, we are committed to innovation and the development of strategies that benefit both travelers and the industry in general,” Hutchinson said. “We want to continue developing initiatives that challenge entrepreneurs, enterprises, and other members of the ecosystem, and bring benefits to the aviation sector, and to tourism. That’s why we have launched a challenge to all sources of ideas to bring our passengers the liberty of travel.

“How can we incentivize people to fly again? What can we change or improve onboard? How can we develop a new boarding procedure for our A320 Aircraft? What client facing processes can we implement in the airport? How can we avoid, prevent, or identify COVID-19 carriers? These and other questions are those that we want all the innovators that want to participate to present solutions and pertinent proposals for.”