“We are anxious to see the Max back into the sky,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move on Wednesday. “I think having it as long as it’s been out is not good for anyone in the industry, even though we don’t fly the Max, because we need Boeing, to continue to work on development and innovation of future technology.”
He added: “That’s been our message to Boeing, is to not lose sight of the future.”
Boeing is distracted, according to Bastian, as it attempts to win approval from regulators to return the 737 MAX to flight.
The crash early Wednesday of a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 800 in Iran comes at a precarious time for Boeing. Bastian called the crash tragic and like many in the airline industry looks to Boeing to get through the current challenges, “and be able to get the technology and the next generation aircraft that we really need to continue to advance our opportunities to grow.”
Innovation and less hassle at Delta
A key part of Bastian’s plan for growth at Delta is removing the stress and hassle passengers experience at airports and in flight. He became the first airline CEO to deliver a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, CES, in Las Vegas and showed the crowd technological advances that Bastian says will help Delta achieve that goal.
Delta is partnering with rideshare company Lyft (LYFT) to create a digital concierge within the Delta cellphone app. It draws data from Delta, Lyft, the TSA and CLEAR to determine “how much time you need to expect in the security waiting queue,” Bastian said.
When a passenger orders Lyft to get to the airport, the newly aggregated data allows the airline to better coordinate pick-up times and automatically reschedule the car if there are airport delays. Bastian says it helps remove the stress of being on time. “And then longer term, because I gave a five-year vision, is that we can use the app as far as getting bags from your home to your hotel without you having to even worry about checking in and onboard, finding bin space, and waiting at the carousel.”
Bastian says Delta will begin rolling out some of the new innovations this year and in the next few years passengers will be able to use Delta SkyMiles to pay for services like Lyft or shop at the airport.
Customized airport monitors to avoid crowds
Delta unveiled new technology at CES that allows upto 100 passengers to look at individualized information at the same airport monitor at the same time, simply by scanning their boarding passes. “It will personalize what you need to know relative to your trip, how much time do you have to board,” Bastian said, pointing out that this kind of technology used to be considered science fiction. This will roll out this summer at Detroit’s airport.
Another tech upgrade called virtual queuing will take the stress out of boarding. “We will push notify you when it’s time for your plane to board, and that’s helpful but to a point and what we want to do is be able to push notify you when your individual seat is boarding so you know when you have to be there,” Bastian said.
Bastian says these and other innovations are intended to personalize the passenger experience at the airport. “These tech innovations are designed to take the stress and crowds away from the boarding gate,” Bastian said.
Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance On the Move.