One of Europe's largest airlines is partnering with a blockchain travel platform as part of a bid to explore possible applications of the technology.
Announced today, Lufthansa Group has entered into a deal with Swiss startup Winding Tree, a decentralized business-to-business marketplace built on the ethereum blockchain.
As a result of the deal, Maksim Izmaylov, CEO of Winding Tree, said the startup will assist Lufthansa in building and testing decentralized, blockchain-based travel apps that meet the requirements of airlines, while Lufthansa will integrate its APIs with the Winding Tree platform.
Reinhard Lanegger, senior venture development manager at the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, told CoinDesk, that, specifically, Lufthansa is interested in exploring use cases that would put booking, rebooking and traveler itinerary information on a blockchain.
In short, he said both Lufthansa and Winding Tree see the partnership as a win-win – one that allows Lufthansa exposure to new technology experts, and Winding Tree access to experts in the field.
"We want to provide [Winding Tree] expertise."
The new partnership goes a step further, though, bringing Lufthansa into the trendy world of initial coin offerings (ICOs), the term denoting how startups are now leveraging custom cryptocurrencies as a way to fund early-stage startup development.
Notably, as part of the partnership, Lufthansa will also be investing in Winding Tree as part of its forthcoming sale of a token called LIF. Although the airline did not disclose how much it will be investing, the token will initially be used to fund the development of Winding Tree's platform.
Eventually, however, LIF will be the mechanism with which users can book travel.
"LIF is used for settlement and data transfer," said Pedro Anderson, co-founder of Winding Tree. "Anyone owning LIF tokens will be able to book hotels, flights and cruises ... directly on the blockchain."
Still, Lufthansa is not new to the technology, having signaled interest in the blockchain space as early as 2014 when it partnered with bitcoin payment processor Bitnet. And, while Lufthansa is the only airline currently public with its interest in utilizing the platform, Lanegger said it may seek to include other partners in trials.
"It is something that people will talk about," Lanegger said, adding: "We as a group have always been a frontrunner when it comes to technology."
Airline departure image via Shutterstock