A Manchester-based company, which has brought groundbreaking technology to the airline industry, is on track to become a £500 million company in five years’ time.

Air Black Box is the only internet booking engine on the planet that focuses on helping airlines and airports connect seamlessly and cost-effectively. Founded four years ago by Timothy O’Neil-Dunne and Paul Addy, it has been credited with providing the software that made newly formed airline alliances like Asia’s Value Alliance — made up of Cebu Pacific, JejuAir, Nok, NokScoot, Scoot, Tigerair Australia and Tigerair Singapore and Vanilla Air — a reality.

Customers can view, select and book the best-available airfares on flights from any of the airlines in a single transaction, directly from each partner website, thanks to AirBlack Box’s (ABB) technology that means more destinations, more routing options and greater convenience for customers of each airline.

The company, which has grown its headcount from five to 40 in just two years and has offices in the US and Singapore, is headquartered at The University of Manchester Innovation Centre’s (UMIC) North Campus Incubator. UMIC is a division of the university’s innovation company, UMI3 Ltd.

ABB bosses O’Neil-Dunne and Addy said the company, which has multiple patents pending on its technology, is close to signing up more airlines as users.

“Essentially, we have developed an interface which enables airlines to network better so they can sell onward flights to smaller destinations as part of one ticket,” said O’Neil-Dunne, who recently picked up the 2016 WITovation Editor’s Choice Award in Singapore.

“There’s one point of purchase in any number of currencies and a single itinerary encompasses tickets and ticketless bookings issued simultaneously on cooperating airlines. Our technology is the right technology for the right time, and there’s nothing else like it. We have, if you will, re-imagined the process of airline retailing, starting with the most difficult of all airline products: interlining and multi-carrier connectivity.”

O’Neil-Dunne said that since signing its first clients earlier this year, ‘Air Black Box has established absolute market leadership’ with a series of B2B and B2C tools and platform that provide its airlines’ clients with efficiencies and cost benefits that were simply not available until now.

ABB’s client, Value Alliance airlines, who boast a collective fleet of 176 aircraft across the Asia Pacific region and serve more than 160 destinations, have strengthened distribution in their non-home markets, expanded their saleable networks via the provision of interline itineraries, retained their ancillary revenue opportunities and now offer their customers a better, one-stop- shop experience.

Now recruiting one person a week to cope with the number of airlines signing on to use its technology, ABB recently announced a joint venture with Singapore Airlines and has been nominated for another leading airline industry award.

O’Neil-Dunne said: “Tony Walker, the director of UMIP’s Innovation Optimiser scheme, was instrumental in helping us to set up as a commercial company and has supported us ever since. We are also working with the Alliance Manchester Business School on an international business project which is very exciting.”

He added: “We feel that the number of airlines that have committed to using the Air Black Box platform is a testament to its utility. “The airlines’ ability to form these alliances means that a small or regional or low- cost carrier can very quickly grow its market footprint and become part of a much larger network of interconnected and cooperating carriers.”

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