fvw Kongress 2019

How Kiwi.com is shaking up airline sales

Oliver Dlouhy
Oliver Dlouhy

Oliver Dlouhý, founder of Kiwi.com, is a pioneer in so-called ‘virtual interlining’, a controversial sales method that airlines are unhappy with. The Czech entrepreneur, now backed by a new US investor, will present his international expansion plans at the fvw Kongress 2019.

CEO Dlouhý and Chief Technology Officer Jozef Képesif founded Kiwi.com seven years ago in the city of Brno. Their start-up is known for combining flights by different airlines in one booking, including diverse connecting flights. Train and coach services have also been recently integrated.

Notably, in contrast to other portals, if a passenger misses a connection due to a delayed flight, Kiwi.com pays for the costs of a new booking or, if necessary, a hotel stay.

Airlines, which like to sell round-trips, do not really like this ‘virtual interlining’, especially as Kiwi.com faces criticism that it allows individual flight segments of transfer connections to lapse. But Dlouhý rejects these claims. “I’ve often heard that we break airline rules that were introduced decades ago to increase the profits of national carriers,” he commented to travel news website Skift.

The business model certainly appears to be successful as Kiwi.com is growing fast in the highly competitive market for online flight bookings. According to the company, more than 100 million flight searches are made daily on the portal, and turnover reached more than €1 billion last year.

The Czech company, which has so far financed itself through local investors, has now gained a high-profile shareholder. At the start of June, US financial investor General Atlantic bought a majority stake for an undisclosed sum, with the two founders remaining as minority shareholders. General Atlantic holds stakes in numerous travel companies, including Airbnb, Uber, the Latin America portal Despegar along with Mafengwo and Meituan in China.

At the fvw Kongress on September 17 – 18, 2019 in Cologne, Dlouhý will present his views on the future of airline ticket sales and explain how he wants to succeed in competition with global giants.

There is one single ticket for the fvw Kongress that gives entry to the entire event on both days, including the presentations on all three stages, documentation and the Kongress party.

The ticket costs just 349 euros as a special early booking price until 14 July. Travel agency owners and staff pay only 99 euros, while start-ups (no older than three years) pay 129 euros. All prices are liable to VAT.  

You can find more information about the travel industry event under: www.fvw-kongress.de