Never miss a connecting flight again – this is made possible by Airsiders, the youngest start-up that emerged from the independent company builder Beam. Together with Beam, BEUMER Group wants to solve unique logistics problems in cooperation with start-up teams. Yavuz Karadag and Ashraf Al-Eryani have developed a scalable standard with which airports, airlines and booking platforms can incorporate information such as the transport and forwarding of luggage, flight-related insurances or minimum transfer times without complex interline agreements. For passengers, this means a high level of transparency and maximum security.
While the landside area at the airports – including check-in and ticket counters – is also accessible to non-travellers, this does not apply to the airside area. The “airside” is generally the area after security and passport control that only airport staff and passengers with a valid boarding pass are allowed to enter. This includes, for example, the duty-free shops and lounges, but also the airline activity.
“We deliberately named our young company Airsiders because we want to make the airside area transparent and virtually accessible to passengers,” explains Yavuz Karadag, who founded the start-up together with Ashraf Al-Eryani. The two are supported by the Berlin-based, self-sufficient company builder Beam – a company of BEUMER Group. “We try to solve unique problems in logistics together with start-up teams”, explains Managing Director Robert Bach. “Our job is to work with young entrepreneurs to identify outstanding business models in logistics. From this we want to generate three start-ups per year and transfer them to a separate company, consolidated under the Beam umbrella. This now also includes Airsiders.” BEUMER Group wants to develop new business areas in logistics with the companies.
Interlining – too complex and too expensive
“We know that from our own experience,” says Yavuz Karadag. “I can’t reach my destination with one direct flight. I’m still on the plane that should have landed a long time ago, and my connecting flight is already in the air. It’s not a pleasant situation.” If both flights belong to the same airline, the airline usually offers the passenger an alternative flight. With various airlines, however, the passenger usually has to take care of it himself. “That can be pretty nerve-wracking. The ticket can expire or I have to change airport to get my connecting flight. What about my luggage? How much time do I have to get to my plane on time?”, Ashraf Al-Eryani describes the questions many passengers have. “Usually all information is missing.”
In order to avoid high costs and above all to make this complexity manageable, airlines often work together. The basic idea behind this so-called interlining system: For flights that extend over several countries and include several airlines, only one ticket should have to be issued in one currency. In addition, there is continuous baggage handling as well as the ability to rebook and transfer the tickets to another airline. “If two airlines do not have an interline agreement, however, the passenger usually is at a disadvantage,” explains Yavuz Karadag.
For example, the passenger is often responsible for collecting his baggage and checking it in again. In addition, the Minimum Connection Time (MCT), i.e. the minimum time between the landing of one aircraft and the take-off of the next, so that the passengers can even reach their connecting flight, is not recalculated.Unfortunately, this often also applies to the tariffs, which are determined automatically. “We see a core problem in the fact that the industry does not optimally support modern interlining,” says Ashraf Al-Eryani. “We dealt with the topic and asked the various interest groups in the industry such as airport operators, airlines and of course passengers. The biggest problem with building optimal airline networks is the high costs and the associated complexity. Then there is the lack of infrastructure to provide these services to the passengers.”
One platform for all
“When it comes to interlining, integrating two airlines is expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved,” says Ashraf Al-Eryani. On the one hand, it is important to integrate different systems. On the other hand, as many airports as possible have to work together to keep the Minimum Connection Time as short as possible.
“We have developed a scalable standard that brings airlines, airports and online travel agencies – OTA (Online Travel Agency) for short – together on one platform,” describes Yavuz Karadag. As a result, sales, the transport and forwarding of luggage, flight-related insurances and the minimum transfer time are integrated without the complex interline agreements. “With our software interface, the parties involved can significantly improve the passengers’ travel experience – for example through personalized real-time airport orientation and offers”, explains Yavuz Karadag. To this end, Airsiders offers a range of products for the automatic forwarding of luggage, for dynamic minimum connection times based on airport maps, or for the distribution of content from online travel agencies.”We want to give passengers a seamless travel experience without having to worry about delays in air traffic,” says the company founder. Airlines and online travel agencies can also use the Airsiders platform to sell additional tickets and offer additional services.
“Passengers receive precise navigation on their mobile device if they have to change terminals or leave the airport,” explains Yavuz Karadag. “No matter how complex the journey may be, we provide the passenger with precise instructions and navigation steps.” If the connection between two flights is particularly close, Airsiders offers a solution with which the passengers can immediately rebook if necessary. They stay always informed of all malfunctions and, more importantly, no longer have to worry about their luggage. “Airport operators also benefit from using our standard. They support their passengers even better, strengthen their market position and expand their interline network,” emphasizes Ashraf Al-Eryani.
Motivation and at least two years of experience
Beam Managing Director Robert Bach is happy to have met the two company founders. “Not everyone is suitable as a founder,” he says. “We require at least two years of experience – ideally in a start-up.” And both of them have this experience. Yavuz Karadag is from Turkey and spent many years in Austria, Spain and Germany. He holds a degree from the renowned ESADE Business School in Barcelona and has worked for a financial service provider and previously founded a start-up that offered a solution for the recruiting of software developers. “I was looking for new challenges and met Ashraf Al-Eryani at Beam in Berlin,” he says. Eryani is originally from Yemen and studied in Great Britain, the US and Germany. He was one of the earliest contributors to ResearchGate, a commercial social network and database for researchers in all fields of science. Eryani founded an advertising agency called Lepton Media in Berlin, then a sharing economy company for consumer goods called Fainin – until he finally came to Beam.
And then Corona came
“With our start-up, we have redefined the passenger experience and the topic of interlining,” says Eryani enthusiastically. The current situation with COVID-19 shows how important this is. “Many direct flights and routes have been cancelled,” says Eryani. In order to reach their destination, passengers have to change planes several times and book – or rebook – their connecting flights themselves. That often fails because of the lack of infrastructure.
Corona has also led to many security measures and restrictions at airports that often unsettle passengers. “Of course we asked ourselves how we could support travellers here with our know-how,” says Yavuz Karadag. “Airlines, airports and online travel agencies also approached us.” Just a few weeks after the pandemic occurred, Airsiders launched the COVID-19 Health Compass. With this free app, travellers can quickly and easily access all important information at their airport via their smartphone or tablet.
How do the two founders see the future? “We want to continue growing and integrate many more airlines and airports into our network,” explains Yavuz Karadag. “This is the only way we can increase the number of available virtual interline partnerships.” Passengers can now find even more travel routes from a single source. This will substantially increase the efficiency of air traffic.