Air New Zealand has entered a partnership with the innovation arm of United States airline JetBlue Airways that has already invested in flying cars and electric planes.
The airlines announced an international innovation partnership around JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), the venture capital subsidiary of JetBlue Airways, a Silicon-Valley-based company, which incubates, invests in, and partners with early-stage start-ups.
Among JetBlue Technology's existing moves has been an investment in Joby Aviation, a startup that's developed an electric-powered short hop vertical takeoff taxi and Zunum Aero, a US company that's developing a hybrid battery powered plane capable of flying up to 12 passengers more than 1000km by 2022.
JTV says it is also working with early stage startups that use artificial intelligence, big data analytics, Internet-of-Things (IoT) and blockchain technology.
''We've immersed ourselves in the startup scene like no airline has done before. Our small, but nimble group is empowered to make decisions and embrace ideas that may seem crazy in today's paradigm but will become mainstream in the future. We are partnering with emerging companies to completely transform the travel industry.''
The technology venture was looking outside the aviation sector, investing in Recharge, a pay by the hour hotel booking system, Flyr, which harnesses big data to predict airfares and Mozio, which allows ground transport comparisons.
Air New Zealand says the partnership with JTV gives it access to emerging technologies and an entrance into the Silicon Valley innovation environment.
''Together the two companies, along with future partners, will build a network to better address changes coming to the travel industry as well as improve efficiencies within the existing infrastructure,'' the airlines said.
Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said his airline had a proud history of product innovation and the new deal was part of the aim of redefining air travel.
''We're thrilled to be at the centre of the immense commercial and customer experience opportunities emerging from the intersection of technology and travel," he said.
The airline has pioneered artificial intelligence with a chatbot, Oscar, and was an early adopter of kiosk check-in technology. Its chief digital officer, Avi Golan, a former Google executive, sits on the airline's executive.
Luxon has recently spoken about the potential of hybrid electric planes for shorter flights next decade.
Bonny Simi, president of JTV, said Air New Zealand was a like-minded partner.
''We are excited to expand our global reach and impact by building relationships with a like-minded travel partners across the travel and hospitality spectrum worldwide," she said.
JetBlue Airways is a low-cost carrier that flies domestic routes in the US and into South and Central America. The airline was founded in 1999 and has nearly 250 aircraft, mainly Airbus A320s.