El Al venture arm, Boeing join forces to scope out new air travel tech

As part of the collaboration, aerospace behemoth will inject an undisclosed sum into El Al’s Cockpit Innovation

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Boeing logo on the fuselage of a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner test plane presented on the Tarmac of Le Bourget, June 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Eric Piermont)
The Boeing logo on the fuselage of a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner test plane presented on the Tarmac of Le Bourget, June 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Eric Piermont)

Cockpit Innovation, a venture fund arm of EL AL Israel Airlines Ltd, said Wednesday it has formed a strategic partnership with Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company. As part of the collaboration, Boeing will invest an undisclosed amount of money into the fund, the company said.

The partnership will allow Boeing and Cockpit to jointly identify, support, and grow new technologies for possible applications in the aviation and aerospace industries, in an effort to play a role in shaping the future of these fields, Cockpit said in a statement.

“The strategic partnership with Cockpit Innovation reinforces and furthers our longstanding relationship with EL AL Israel Airlines,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Kevin McAllister. “Cockpit will provide a bridge to the global ecosystem of startups in fields that align with our strategic vision for Boeing, furthering our access into these developing sectors of the aerospace industry.”

“Combining the wealth of industry knowledge and venturing expertise of both Boeing and Cockpit with new technologies will enable amazing new opportunities for startups in the fields of travel, aviation and aerospace,” said Gonen Usishkin, the CEO of El Al.

A view of Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, January 21, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Usishkin added that the partnership intended to make investments in the “very near future.”

International carriers and venture funds globally are turning to travel technologies as mobile devices are becoming the preferred way to make travel plans. The global travel technology market is forecast to grow by some 8% in 2017-2021, according to a report by Technavio.

Set up in 2015 by El Al, Cockpit seeks to boost startups in the fields of aviation, travel and aerospace by providing them with strategic investments and a strong network, by teaming up with industry players globally. Via these partners, the startups gain access to technological infrastructures, a better understanding of how the market works and access to the market and marketing channels. They are also able to carry out pilot programs with the partners providing the startups with beta sites to test their technologies and help them get to commercialization of their products.

The fund has already backed eight startups to date in various sectors. Among the startups Cockpit has invested in are San Francisco-based 30secondstofly, which offers users Claire, a virtual travel assistant that uses AI to take care of travel bookings for businesses; Routier, a Tel Aviv-based startup that helps hotels, airlines, and cruises to engage with their guests in real-time without requiring them to download anything; and Ramat Gan-based Bidflyer, a real time auctions platform for airlines to help them reduce the number of vacant seats by offering them at reduced prices to passengers at auction.

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