Air NZ buys slice of Silicon Valley tech

Air New Zealand has entered a partnership with the innovation arm of United States airline JetBlue Airways that has already invested in flying cars and electric planes.

The airlines announced an international innovation partnership around JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), the venture capital subsidiary of JetBlue Airways, a Silicon-Valley-based company, which incubates, invests in, and partners with early-stage start-ups.

Among JetBlue Technology's existing moves has been an investment in Joby Aviation, a startup that has developed an electric-powered short hop vertical takeoff taxi and Zunum Aero, a US company that is developing by 2022 a hybrid battery-powered plane capable of flying up to 12 passengers more than 1000km.

JTV says it is also working with startups that use artificial intelligence, big data analytics, Internet-of-Things and blockchain technology.

Air New Zealand says the partnership with JTV gives it access to emerging technologies and an entrance into the Silicon Valley innovation environment.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said his airline had a proud history of product innovation and the new deal was part of the aim of redefining air travel.

The airline has pioneered artificial intelligence with a chatbot, Oscar, and was an early adopter of kiosk check-in technology. Its chief digital officer, Avi Golan, a former Google executive, sits on the airline's executive.

JetBlue Airways is a low-cost carrier on domestic routes in the US and into South and Central America. Founded in 1999, it has nearly 250 aircraft, mainly Airbus A320s

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