Emirates president Tim Clark has warned the aviation industry over the effect of digital disruption as he appoints former Malaysia Airlines boss to lead its new digital strategy.

He was speaking at the Aviation Festival in London following the appointment of Christoph Mueller as chief digital and innovation officer.

Clark said that following a period of deconstructing and examining all company processes, Emirates’ “digital disruption” team will look at redesigning these processes on new platforms that could “streamline up to 50 per cent of what we do”.

“Essentially it will take cost out of the business, allowing us to be more efficient back and front of house,” said Clark.

“Christoph Mueller is coming to head that up, as well as looking at how, as an industry, we are constrained by the legacy distribution systems,” he said, adding: “I am not satisfied that the GDS systems are fit for purpose in the next five to ten years.”

Clark said he envisaged Emirates moving to a new “open architecture” platform in the next five years, which he believes will be driven by ‘Blockchain technology’ – the ‘distributed database’ technology that underpins and records all Bitcoin transactions. “Cristoph is coming at the right time,” said Clark. 

Mueller quit Malaysia earlier this year due to personal circumstances. The airline suffered two disasters in 2014 when flight MH370 went missing on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March and then MH17 from Amsterdam to KL was shot down over the Ukraine four months later.

Mueller stated that the airline had been “technically bankrupt” when he took over as CEO last year but earlier this year said that the airline was on track to return to profitability by 2018.


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