If media buzz is a metric for demonstrating innovation in travel, then Lufthansa Innovation Hub’s latest report is an interesting read.
LIH’s TNMT newsletter looks at the companies that generated the most headlines in 2021 with a specific focus on innovation.
The study looks at airlines, air taxis and urban mobility in the report and says it screened press coverage over the year using “dedicated research monitoring tools.”
Companies are given a top-10 ranking in the report, with American Airlines and United Airlines taking the first two spots in the airline rundown.
The report highlights AA’s touchless bag-drop stations as garnering media attention in 2021.
Its investment in Vertical Aerospace, a company developing an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, also delivered headlines in the past year.
United Airlines generated media buzz for its agreement with Boom Supersonic to purchase 15 Overture aircraft.
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Perhaps conspicuous by their absence in the top 10 are carriers such as AirAsia and JetBlue.
AirAsia had a lot of people talking about its bid to become a challenger to online travel agencies by selling more than just flights.
It also unveiled ride-hailing services and biometric facial recognition for its super app.
JetBlue, meanwhile made a number of announcements via its JetBlue Technology Ventures such as its investment in Transparent and also, as an investor, shared in the buzz around Joby Aviation.
It also invested in hydrogen fuel distribution and story company Universal Hydrogen.
Air taxi uplift
The LIH report says air-taxi companies reached a tipping point when it came to media attention in 2021.
The aforementioned Joby Aviation took the top slot in the air-taxi rankings with 100 mentions, followed by Vertical and Lilium.
Among other notable announcements were Vertical and Lilium's plans to list on the stock market via special purchase acquisition companies (SPACs).
Vertical also listed on the New York Stock Exchange via SPAC late last year, as well as announced funding of $205 million in October.
Amazon led the way when it came to headlines in urban mobility.
This could be because it’s Amazon, or as LIH points out, down to its investment in electric truck startup Rivian.
The online retail giant may also have attracted attention because of its ownership of autonomous driving company Zoox, which it acquired in 2020.
Ola Electric took the second slot in the urban mobility rankings with Tesla coming in third.
It’s perhaps surprising that Google didn’t feature in the top 10 with its ownership of Waymo or Microsoft through its investment in General Motor’s Cruise.