December 7 2021  |  Events

In photos: Highlights from APEX/IFSA EXPO 2021

By Jane Hobson

The Long Beach Convention Center

This year’s APEX/IFSA EXPO was hosted at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. While the weather was not quite as warm as some expected and a tad bit foggier than typical, the overall climate was warm and welcoming inside the conference and exhibition hall. There was a sentiment of excitement to reconnect in person.

“Thank you so much to every single member that came,” said APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader in an Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) video posted to social media on December 2, the final day of the three-day EXPO.

Dr. Joe Leader, APEX/IFSA CEO

Leader said there were 1,300 attendees in total, more than 52 airlines, hundreds of airline attendees, and 150 exhibitors across both APEX and the International Flight Services Association (IFSA). A scaled-down version than previous years due to the pandemic, but EXPO was nonetheless a buzzing gathering.

Jane Hobson, Editor at PAX International and PAX Tech Magazine (left), Dr. Joe Leader, APEX/ISA CEO

EXPO Day One – November 30 – Thought Leadership Conference
Thales sponsored the Thought Leadership Conference General Sessions on day one, November 30. BBC World News sponsored the emcee. The sessions included Technology & Content: The Networks, where Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite service providers ‎described services and plans to support the ‎inflight connectivity market. ‎Netforecast, Inc. Director of Business Development Mary ‎Rogozinski moderated the session, with panelists including OneWeb Vice President Mobility Ben Griffin; Starlink Vice President of Commercial ‎Sales Jonathan Hofeller; and, Telesat Regional Sales Vice President America ‎Philippe Schleret.

The Thought Leadership Conference included sessions with a variety of topics from tech to health & safety

The Health & Safety: Preparing for the Winter of COVID and Beyond ‎session explored how the industry is recovering and preparing for the winter and beyond. It was moderated SimpliFlying Founder and CEO Shashank Nigam. Panelists included Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ‎Neuroscientist Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis, and WestJet Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tammy McKnight.

Health & Safety: Preparing for the Winter of COVID session, moderated by SimpliFlying Founder and CEO Shashank Nigam (left). Panelists included Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ‎Neuroscientist Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis (middle) and WestJet Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tammy McKnight

After a brief break, this session was followed by Creating Genuine Airline ‎Environmental Sustainability, where a panel of industry executives shared how airlines are contributing to achieving one the APEX Board of Governors priorities for 2021 by reducing weight, embracing sustainable aviation fuel, using single-use plastics and more to reduce their carbon footprint. ‎Panelists included Plug and Play Managing Director Amir Amidi; Silverdraft CEO Amy Gile; Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh; and JSX CEO and LATAM Board of Directors Alex Wilcox. Airbus Head of Cabin Market Insights ‎Stefan List moderated the session.

The APEX/IFSA Board of Governors Discussion included several airline CEOs, presidents and chairpeople: Scott Kirby, United Airline; Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines; Yuji Akasaka, Japan Airlines; İlker Aycı, Turkish Airlines Grou; Jóhanna á Bergi, Atlantic Airways; Ted Christie, Spirit Airways; Jeffrey Goh, Star Allianc; Bob Jordan, Southwest Airlines; Ibrahim Koshy, SAUDIA; and Alex Wilcox, JSX.

APEX/IFSA Board of Governors Discussion

Then, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby was interviewed by BBC World News’ Talking Business Presenter Aaron Heslhurts for the Building a Successful Global Airline through Prioritizing Customer Experience and Safety discussion.

The first morning was followed by the Thought Leadership lunch sponsored by VIASAT. Hosted on the terrace outside the Convention Center, the hot lunch included a choice of beverages, cauliflower casserole, chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, and grape tomatoes, plus a delightful strawberry cheesecake topped with whip cream. Other options were available for people with dietary requirements.

The afternoon featured the World Class Awards Presentation and CEO keynotes, with addresses from SAUDIA CEO Captain Ibrahim Koshy and Turkish Airlines Chairman & GCEO Ilker Ayci.

The hot lunch included a choice of beverages, cauliflower casserole, chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, and grape tomatoes, plus strawberry cheesecake topped with whip cream

EXPO Day Two – December 1 – EXPO Open
The EXPO floor opened December 1 with APEX Exhibitors on one side of the hall and IFSA Exhibitors on the other, sharing the same floor.

Here’s a look at some of the APEX booths:

Ideanova Technologies on APEX exhibitor floor

The Viasat booth

The Panasonic booth demo'd the Bluetooth solution and 4K screens

Panasonic's Andy Masson, VP Product & Portfolio management, provided Bluetooth demo for PAX Tech Editor Jane Hobson

The Moment booth

The Spafax booth at APEX EXPO 2021

Here’s a look at some of the IFSA booths:

RMT Global Partners had many products on display at IFSA EXPO 2021

From left to right: Beemster Cheese Foodservice Manager, Patrick den Drijver; Tubes Managing Director, Glen Ritzen; and Qizini Director Airline Natsu Food Group's Jef van de Vegte

Valentina Dalle Mule poses with Bottega bottle at IFSA EXPO booth. Dalle Mule is the Bottega Export Area Manager Airlines for Bottega

The Sola booth

The Sola booth had cutlery and serveware on display

The Gourmet Foods booth

The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake on display at Gourmet Foods

The Red Thai Curry Chicken Soup on display at Gourmet Foods

The Achiote Stuffed Chicken Breast on display at Gourmet Foods

The Buzz booth featured many of the company's recent projects

Buzz launched the 'All Good Things' amenity kits during the IFSA EXPO

Le Waf waffle maker offered samples of fresh, warm waffles

Fresh waffle samples at Le Waf booth

The Innovation Pavilion, located on the IFSA side, featured catering and passenger services discussions. Sustainability Solutions: Strategic Priorities & Implementations, moderated by Dr. Stathis Kefallonitis, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Associate Professor of Business, with panelists Matrix de Vries, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Food Specialist, and Hermann Lahr, Global-C, Director and Managing Partner.

The Sustainability Solutions: Plant Based discussion was presented by Tomu Odawara, Cuisine Solutions, Inc., Director – Onboard Services.

APEX/IFSA Awards 2021
Day two closed with the Awards Ceremony & Networking event, sponsored in part by Cinesend, gategroup and Thales.

The APEX/IFSA Awards evening

İlker Aycı, Group CEO & Chairman, Turkish Airlines was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and gave an inspiring speech about the industry working together to overcome challenges, not just the COVID-19 pandemic, but any adversities that may arise in the future.

İlker Aycı, Group CEO & Chairman, Turkish Airlines. Photo from: APEX

For the fourth year running, airline passengers were able to rate their flight experience on a five-star scale through the TripIt by Concur app. Here are the Four- and Five-Star-rated airlines in the Global, Major, Regional and Low-Cost Carrier categories.

A large group of members determine the top three finalists in each of the APEX/IFSA Awards categories, then a panel of industry media vote on the winners. PAX International and PAX Tech Editor-in-Chief Rick Lundstrom was a judge this year.

Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation: United Airlines

Photo from: APEX

Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation: WestJet

Photo from: APEX

Best Onboard Amenity: Buzz

Photo from: APEX

Newcomer of the year: SpiceJet

Photo from: APEX

Click here for the full list of 2021 winners from APEX/IFSA EXPO.

EXPO Day Three – December 2 – EXPO Open
A discussion entitled IFSA Government Affairs: Advocating for & Advancing the Industry was hosted at the Innovation Pavilion, Presented by GAEC Co-Chairs Vanessa Lindstrom, United Airlines, Director, Food Safety & Regulatory Compliance – Global Catering & Lounges, and Rosimeire Miranda, LSG Group, Quality Director North America.

The catering discussions also examined Catering Renaissance: The Way Forward, presented by Flying Group, Vice President – Sales and Services Jim Ball and LSG Sky Chefs Chef Anthony Wright.

Here’s a look at some of the APEX booths:

The Aeroplay Entertainment booth

The Anuvu booth featured a demo of the company's IFE selection product

The West Entertainment booth

Lufthansa Systems at APEX EXPO 2021

The SmartSky booth

The AerQ booth

Here's a look at some of the IFSA booths:

The AirlineMporium booth featured a number of its customers inflight snack offerings

The snacks on offers at the AirlineMporium booth

Family-run and women-owned Delyse had many of its snack offerings on display. The bread twists were also served as a part of the lunch at the Exhibition Hall

Plenty of snacks were on display at the DFMi booth

The FORMIA booth featured a number of the company's recent collaborations, including this Versace luxury amenity kit for Turkish Airlines

The Missoni kit for SAUDIA was also on display at FORMIA booth

Global Inflight Products had its Bamboo Cutlery on display

GIP also had cups on display

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