EXPO Schedule

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Saturday 7 September

12:05 - 15:05

LH 452 MUC - LAX
12:05 – 15:05

APEX + Lufthansa FlyingLab
Key innovators from Lufthansa will join industry and internet partners to share their ideas with you during the in-flight conference on LH 452 from Munich to Los Angeles. Lufthansa, Lufthansa Systems, Lufthansa Technik and zeroG will be present alongside representatives from other industry partners. Leading digital service and content providers will demonstrate advances in digital tools.

Additional Registration Required

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Sunday 8 September 2019

15:00 – 18:30

APEX EXPO Registration

Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC)
South Hall Lobby

17:30 – 19:00

APEX Welcome Reception
Join us for appetizers and drinks to kick off the EXPO. Say hello to your old friends, connect with colleagues and make some new contacts. You have the rest of the night on your own to continue your conversations and enjoy Los Angeles.

JW Marriott Hotel, The Mixing Room
Sponsored by: Global Eagle

Additional Registration Required

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Monday 9 September 2019

07:45 – 08:45

Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) Main Level Concourse Hall Prefunction


Doors Open for General Sessions
LACC Main Level Concourse Hall

08:45 – 16:00

Thought Leadership Conference
AM Sessions Sponsored by: Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Breaks Sponsored by: Encore Inflight Limited
Emcee Sponsored by: BBC World News
NextGen IFEC Track Sponsored by: Inmarsat Global Ltd.

08:45 – 09:00

Welcome & Introduction
• APEX Executive Director Katie Geraghty-Goshgarian
• APEX President Juha Järvinen; Virgin Atlantic


Introduction of 2019/202 APEX/IFSA Board of Governors
• Chair: Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian
• Spirit Airlines President & CEO Ted Christie
• Xiamen Airlines Chairman Zhao Dong
• JetBlue President & Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty
• Flybe ex CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener
• LATAM Brasil CEO Emeritus Claudia Sender
• Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss
• JSX Co-Founder & CEO Alex Wilcox

09:00 – 09:20

APEX/IFSA Board of Governors Chairman Address
Climbing Beyond Customer Expectations to Better Serve Our World
• Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian
• Interviewed by: APEX/IFSA CEO Joe Leader

09:20 – 09:35

Driven by Values of Safety, Caring, Integrity, Passion & Fun
• JetBlue President & Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty
• Interviewed by: BBC World News Talking Business Presenter Aaron Heslehurst

09:35 – 09:50

Creation & Delivery of a Passenger Experience with Personality & Heart
• Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss
• Interviewed by: APEX/IFSA CEO Joe Leader

09:50 – 10:05

Giving a Private Jet Flying Experience for the Everyday Traveler
• JSX Co-Founder & CEO Alex Wilcox
• Interviewed by: APEX/IFSA CEO Joe Leader

10:05 – 10:20

Collaboration to Benefit Passengers & Advance the Industry
• Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh
• Interviewed by: APEX/IFSA CEO Joe Leader

10:20 – 10:50

Networking Break
Sponsored by: Encore Inflight Limited
LACC Main Level Concourse Hall Prefunction

10:50 – 11:05

The Importance of Investing in the Guest with Comfort & Ease
• Spirit Airlines President & CEO Ted Christie
• Interviewed by: BBC World News Talking Business Presenter Aaron Heslehurst

11:05 – 11:20

Leveraging UN Sustainable Development Goals for a Better & More Sustainable Future for All
• United Nations Director of the News & Media Division of the Department of Global Communications Hua Jiang

11:20 – 11:35

Jointly Undertaking the Global Mission of Sustainable Development
• Xiamen Airlines Chairman Zhao Dong

11:35 – 11:50

Enabling a Touch of Business Class to Every Passenger in the Sky
• Etihad Airways Vice President Product & Guest Experience Jamal Al Awadhi
• Etihad Airways Vice President Guest Experience & Delivery Linda Celestino
• Interviewed by: BBC World News Talking Business Presenter Aaron Heslehurst

11:50 – 12:00

The Aviation Industry’s Commitment to Sustainability
• APEX/IFSA CEO Joe Leader

12:00 – 13:30

Women Leaders in Aviation Networking Lunch
Sponsored by: Viasat
LACC Main Level Petree Hall
Moderated by: Viasat Senior Vice President and CFO Shawn Duffy
• Etihad Airways Vice President Guest Services and Delivery Linda Celestino
• JetBlue Airways Director Product Development Mariya Stoyanova
• LATAM Brasil CEO Emeritus Claudia Sender
• Oman Air SVP Guest Experience and Branding Xia Cai

13:30 – 16:00

Thought Leadership Conference - Breakout Sessions

13:30 – 14:10

Breakout 1 (A1, B1, C1, D1)

14:10 – 14:25


Sponsored by: Encore Inflight Limited

14:25 – 15:05

Breakout 2 (A2, B2, C2, D2)

15:05 – 15:20


Sponsored by: Encore Inflight Limited

15:20 – 16:00

Breakout 3 (A3, B3, C3, D3)

16:10 – 16:45

APEX Annual General Meeting

17:45 – 19:15

APEX/IFSA Awards Ceremony

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Tuesday 10 September 2019

07:30 – 18:00

APEX Registration
LACC South Hall Lobby

07:30 – 08:45

Airline Breakfast
JW Marriott Hotel, Plaza Room
Open to Airline Members Only

09:00 – 18:00

LACC South Hall HJ

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Wednesday 11 September 2019

08:00 – 18:00

APEX Registration
LACC South Hall Lobby

09:00 – 18:00

LACC South Hall HJ

19:30 – 22:30

APEX EXPO Networking Event and 40th Anniversary Celebration
After building relationships and strengthening partnerships on the EXPO floor, come celebrate APEX EXPO’s 40th Anniversary with your industry colleagues for a night of networking.

Conga Room
800 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Sponsored By: SmartSky Networks
Additional Registration Required

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Thursday 12 September 2019

08:00 – 15:00

APEX Registration
LACC South Hall Lobby

09:00 – 17:00

LACC South Hall HJ

Monday's Thought Leadership Sessions

Track A. NextGen IFEC

LACC Second Level Room 411

Evaluate technologies that play a crucial role in bettering the passenger experience in the rapidly changing aviation and content market. Analysis of big data enables personalization, creates efficiencies, and facilities a better experience. Sessions will also address the global impact technology has on the way airlines source content and connectivity solutions to present to their passengers.

13:30 – 14:10

A1.       Building the Business Case for Inflight Connectivity

  • Amazon Web Services Transportation Leader – State and Local Government Phil Silver
  • Inmarsat Aviation President Phil Balaam
  • Qatar Airways Vice President Marketing, Sponsorships and IFEC Babar Rahman

14:25 – 15:05

A2.       Dynamic Content and Connectivity: What Passengers Want

As bandwidth to the aircraft increases, both the quality of connectivity and the ability to dynamically offer video as well as new content experiences is becoming a reality. What do travellers expect when it comes to connectivity and how do connectivity needs differ between passenger types? We look at the latest global research in this area. This will be followed by a panel of experts discussing how new distribution paths can enable dynamic content delivery alongside connectivity, and fulfil passenger expectations of airlines of the future.

  • Moderator: BBC World News Presenter of Talking Business Aaron Heslehurst
  • Presenter:
    • BBC World News Head of Insight Hamish McPharlin
  •  Panelists:
    • Delta Air LinesBBC Studios Vice President Out of Home Zina Neophytou
    • Emirates Division VP Customer Experience: Service Delivery: IFE, connectivity & onboard retail Patrick Brannelly
    • Panasonic Avionics Corporation Director of Media Services Dominic Green
    • Paramount Pictures Vice President Non-Theatrical Sales Vince Cruz
    • Stellar Entertainment Director of Partnerships Amanda Walsh
    • Qatar Airways Vice President Marketing, Sponsorships and IFEC Babar Rahman

15:20 – 16:00

A3.       Data Analytics to Drive Content Selection

Today’s passenger experience, including inflight entertainment, is becoming increasingly personalized and relevant. Data analytics that measure passengers’ preferences as to content not only impact what content is licensed for the future, but new content delivery methods—including cloud-based delivery—promise to disrupt the 30-day exhibition cycle and 45-to-60 day content delivery cycle. And the same databases that drive content recommendation engines also drive targeted advertising and ecommerce. A panel of experts discusses data-driven dynamic content in IFE.

  • Moderator: Lufthansa Systems Chief Consultant, Content and Media Strategy Michael Childers
  • Panelists:
    • Panasonic Avionics Corporation CTO David Bartlett
    • Spafax Global VP of Technical Sales Kevin Birchmore
    • TAP Air Portugal IFEC Manager Miguel Ferreira
    • Touch Inflight Solutions Director of Business Development André Valera


Track B. PaxEx 2020

LACC Second Level Room 408A

Airlines and their partners are able to engage with passengers at many stages along their journey. What are some ways that the industry uses these touchpoints as opportunities to enhance experiences and generate loyalty? Assess the multiple ways organizations are using predictive analysis, passenger feedback, demographic and economic growth figures, and travel trends to improve the passenger experience.

13:30 – 14:10

B1.       The Airport of the Future Today: Biometrics, Intelligence, Seamless Airline Experience

  • Moderator: Future Travel Experience Head of Strategy, Engagement & Content Ryan Ghee
  • Panelists:
    • IATA Manager, Passenger Experience & Facilitation Hasse Joergensen
    • Los Angeles World Airports Chief Operating Officer Justin Erbacci
    • PriestmanGoode Senior Project Manager Phil Bailey
    • Thales (previously Gemalto) Director of Field Marketing, Identity and Biometric Solutions Nicole Williams
    • Turkish Airlines Customer Experience Supervisor Mustafa Mucahitoglu

14:25 – 15:05

B2.       The Personalization of 2020 and Beyond

  • APEX/IFSA CEO Joe Leader
  • LATAM Brasil CEO Emeritus Claudia Sender
  • Qatar Airways Vice President Marketing, Sponsorships and IFEC Babar Rahman

15:20 – 16:00

B3.       The Aircraft Interiors Renaissance

  • Moderator: Airbus Head of Cabin Market Insights Stefan List
  • Panelists:
    • JetBlue Product Manager, Aircraft Interiors + Inflight Technology Andrew Litavis
    • Valour Consultancy Senior Consultant and Co-Founder Craig Foster

Track C. Driving Ancillary Revenue

LACC Second Level Room 408B

Airlines invest incredible funds into their products and services to entertain and engage their passengers. How can revenue be generated from that investment to cultivate an attractive ROI? Sessions in this track will outline opportunities for ROI throughout the entire travel thread, while also addressing technical solutions and personalization.

13:30 – 14:10

C1.   Leveraging Technology to Grow Airline Ancillaries  

  • Enabling Airlines to Enable Payments
    • CellPoint Digital VP Airlines, Americas Howard Blankenship
  • NextGen Payment Solutions Case Study
    • Cell Point Digital VP Airlines, Americas Howard Blankenship
    • Global Eagle Senior Project Manager Kuan Chin
    • Southwest Airlines Assistant Manager, WiFi/IFE Brittany Brunson

14:25 – 15:05

C2.      Driving the Next Generation of Airline Passenger Loyalty

  • Moderator: ThePointsGuy CEO & Founder Brian Kelly
  • Panelists:
    • Aeroméxico SVP Marketing and E-Commerce Andres Castañeda
    • American Airlines Customer Experience and Onboard Products, Managing Director Erwan Perhirin
    • Flybe ex CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener
    • JSX Co-Founder & CEO Alex Wilcox
    • Virgin Atlantic EVP Commercial Juha Järvinen

15:20 – 16:00

C3.      Ancillary Opportunities & e-Commerce

  • Moderator: Global Eagle V.P. Advertising, Partner Marketing Kimberly Creaven; APEX Airline Advertising and Ancillary Revenue Working Group Chair
  • Panelists:
    • Panasonic Avionics Corporation Director, Advertising Services Steve Hamkins
    • Spafax Managing Director of Asia Jean-Marc Thomas
    • TD Link Technology (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd., A BlueFocus Company CEO Max Xia
    • Thales Director of Strategic Marketing Jerry Thomas


Track D. In-Flight Service of the Future

LACC Second Level Room 404AB

Identifying passenger references and providing a personalized offering is key to customer satisfaction. Today’s savvy travellers not only consider taste and quality, but also environmental impact, physiological benefit and often locality that drive unique experiences. Airlines, caterers, and suppliers collate offerings to provide such experiences while also minimizing waste, achieving ancillary revenue and adhering to regulations from a range of global governing bodies. Explore ways to address these requests and requirements.

13:30 – 14:10

D1.      Driving Airline Sustainability: Making Environmental Advancements Real

  • Moderated by: Skift Senior Aviation Business Editor Brian Sumers
  • Panelists:
    • Airbus Head of Cabin Market Insights Stefan List
    • Etihad Airways Vice President Guest Services and Delivery Linda Celestino
    • Spiriant Product Manager for Leisure and Smart Solutions Vladislav Voron
    • United Nations Director of the News and Media Division, Department of Global Communications Hua Jiang
    • Xiamen Airlines Chief Service Officer Chen Yizhen

14:25 – 15:05

D2.      Future Government Initiatives Driving Industry Change

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration Assistant Commissioner for Food Safety Integration Donald Prater

15:20 – 16:00

D3.      Using Data to Optimize Products & Minimize Waste

    • Black Swan CEO Steve King
    • TRT Managing Director David Parry

*to be confirmed

Meet the Speakers

Ed Bastian

Chief Executive Officer, Delta Air Lines

As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian leads a team of 80,000 global professionals that is building the world’s premiere international airline, powered by a people-driven, customer-focused culture and spirit of innovation.

Under Ed’s leadership, Delta is transforming the air travel experience with generational investments in technology, aircraft, airport facilities and, most importantly, Delta’s employees worldwide. A 20-year Delta veteran, Ed has been a critical leader in Delta’s long-term strategy and champion of putting Delta’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance and servant leadership at the core of every decision.

Since being named Delta’s CEO in May 2016, Ed has expanded Delta’s leading position as the world’s most reliable airline while growing its global footprint and enhancing the customer experience in the air and on the ground. During his tenure as CEO, Delta has become the world’s most awarded airline, having been named the Wall Street Journal’s top U.S. airline; Fortune’s most admired airline worldwide; the most on-time global airline by FlightGlobal; a Glassdoor Employee’s Choice company and more. Delta has returned to sustained profitability, regaining its investment-grade credit rating with all three major ratings agencies and paying out more than $1 billion in profit-sharing to employees every year over the past four years. In 2018, Fortune magazine named Ed among “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and in 2019, he was elected to the membership of the Council on Foreign Relations.

When asked to sum up his job in five words, Ed’s response is: “Taking care of our people.” The answer reflects his leadership philosophy, which is based on the “virtuous circle” – if you take care of your people, they take care of your customers, whose business and loyalty allows you to reward your investors.

Ed joined Delta in 1998 as Vice President – Finance and Controller and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2000. He left Delta in 2005 and became Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Acuity Brands. He returned to Delta six months later to become Chief Financial Officer, and in 2007 was appointed to serve as Delta’s President.

Prior to joining Delta, Ed held senior finance positions at Frito-Lay International and Pepsi-Cola International. Ed started his career with Price Waterhouse where he became an audit partner in its New York practice.

Ed grew up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He lives in Atlanta, and is deeply involved in his faith, family and community.

Follow Ed on LinkedIn for his thoughts on leadership, culture, aviation and more.

Jóhanna á Bergi

Chief Executive Officer, Atlantic Airways

Jóhanna á Bergi has extensive leadership and board experience. For the past nine years she has been CEO of the shipping company Faroe Ship. She has a degree in leadership from Robert Gordon University, Scotland, and has also studied sales and marketing at Den Danske Eksportskole. Formerly Jóhanna á Bergi was sales manager at JFK, which is both a ship owner and runs fish processing plants that produces and exports fish products from the Faroes. At one point she was sales manager for the fish exporter Faroe Seafood in France. In addition to her leadership positions, she has held diverse board positions over the past several years.

Ted Christie

President and Chief Executive Officer, Spirit Airlines

Ted Christie is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Spirit Airlines, the largest Ultra Low Cost Carrier in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Christie joined Spirit in April 2012 as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. In January 2017, Mr. Christie was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and was promoted again to President one year later. In his various roles, Christie has overseen responsibility for the finance and commercial functions of the business, as well as operations, IT and human resources.

Prior to joining Spirit, Christie served as CFO of Pinnacle Airlines Corp, an airline holding company with subsidiaries flying as Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways Express. Christie began his airline career at Frontier Airlines in 2002. He was appointed Vice President of Finance in 2007 and promoted to Senior Vice President and CFO in 2008. During his tenure at Frontier he helped the carrier to restructure and to achieve a competitive cost structure. 

Christie has also held the position of Vice President of Finance at a Denver asset-based finance institution and also worked as an Economist for the Arizona taxing authority. 

Christie earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Arizona in 1992.


Zhao Dong

Chairman, Xiamen Airlines

Zhao Dong serves as the Chairman of Xiamen Airlines since February 2019. He has been working in the civil aviation industry for 33 years and has accumulated a breadth of experience in airline operations and management.

He was appointed as Xiamen Airlines’ CEO & President in December 2016. Under his leadership, Xiamen Airlines has witnessed a series of milestones: fleeting number exceeding 200; network extending to Europe, North America, and Oceania; wining China Quality Award; having been named CAPSE’s best Chinese airlines in service for 27 quarters; being profitable for 32 consecutive years and counting. And in February 2017, with his great efforts, Xiamen Airlines signed an SDGs agreement with the United Nations and become the first airline in support of the United Nations on SDGs.

During his tenure as the Executive Vice President of Xiamen Airlines from 2006 to 2016, he was in charge of marketing & sales, network planning, revenue management, international & alliance affairs, air cargo, passenger services, and branding. During this period, Xiamen Airlines successfully joined SkyTeam Alliance and had speeded up international expansion ever since.

Zhao Dong joined Xiamen Airlines in 1989 as an AIS Officer and then worked up to the Director of Flight Operations and Assistant President of Xiamen Airlines. He has personally led and involved in the establishment of Operation Control Center and IT Department, which has laid a solid foundation for the airlines’ safe, efficient and advanced operation system.

Prior to joining Xiamen Airlines, Zhao Dong worked as an AIS Officer in CAAC.

Zhao Dong graduated from China Civil Aviation University with a bachelor’s degree in Air Traffic Management and has acquired an MBA from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University.

Joanna Geraghty

President and Chief Operating Officer, JetBlue

Joanna Geraghty is President & Chief Operating Officer of JetBlue, responsible for JetBlue’s operations and commercial performance including network, brand and marketing and revenue management.
Geraghty’s focus is on delivering a leading customer service experience, enhancing operational and commercial performance while nurturing JetBlue’s unique culture and standing as one of the best places to work.
Prior to being named President & COO, she served as JetBlue’s Executive Vice President, Customer Experience, responsible for Airport Operations, Customer Support, and Inflight Service. She served as Executive Vice President, Chief People Officer from 2010-2014, after serving as Vice President and Associate General Counsel and Director of Litigation and Regulatory Affairs. Geraghty has been with the New York-based airline since 2005.
Geraghty is a member of the board of the JetBlue Foundation and chairperson of the board of Concern Worldwide, an international not for profit. Before joining JetBlue, she was a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight. She received her B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross, her master’s in international relations from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law.


Christine Ourmières-Widener

Ex – Chief Executive Officer, Flybe

Christine was Flybe Chief Executive Officer from 16th January 2017 until 15th July 2019.

With extensive international experience across the aviation and travel sectors, immediately prior to joining the airline, she was Chief Global Sales Officer for American Express Global Business Travel, responsible for developing the company’s strategy and driving business growth in major markets across North America, Europe and Asia with a strong focus on improving the customer experience.

Between 2010 and 2015, Christine was CEO and Accountable Manager with CityJet – becoming the first female CEO of an Irish-licensed airline and one of only 15 across all commercial airlines.  She had overall responsibility for all operations including network, distribution, finance, marketing, communications, quality assurance and airport operations; and she played an integral role in securing investors during the sale of the company to AF/KLM, latterly leading projects for the newly independent airline including its rebranding, re-fleeting and deep restructuring.

She had previously worked her way up through the ranks of Air France to become the airline’s first-ever vice president/general manager of Air France-KLM, USA in New York, having held a number of increasingly senior roles including General Manager (UK and Ireland), Vice President of Air France Global Sales, and Vice President of International Sales. During her tenure as Commercial Director, she was instrumental in the launch of Amadeus in France.

Christine is the recipient of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) first-ever Inspirational Role Model Award, featured in the organisation’s inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Awards sponsored by Qatar Airways.

Christine possesses a Masters degree in Aeronautics from the Ecole Nationale Superieure of ENSMA and an MBA from Essec Business School.

Claudia Sender

CEO Emeritus, LATAM Brasil

Claudia Sender is CEO Emeritus Airlines Group and member of LATAM Airlines Group Executive Committee. She led marketing, airports, on-board services, contact center, the frequent flyer program and customer experience in all the countries where LATAM Airlines Group operates.

Mrs. Sender joined the company in December 2011, as Commercial and Marketing Vice-President TAM Airlines. After June 2012, with the conclusion of TAM-LAN combination and the creation of LATAM Airlines Group, she became the head of Brazil Domestic Business Unit, and her functions were expanded in order to include TAM’s entire Customer Service structure. She became TAM Airlines’ CEO in May 2013.

The executive dedicated most of her career in consumer goods industry, focusing on Marketing and Strategic Planning. Mrs. Sender was Marketing Vice-President at Whirlpool Latin America and she also worked as a consultant for Bain & Company.

Mrs. Sender has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Polytechnic School at the University of São Paulo (USP) and a MBA from Harvard Business School, in the United States.

Shai Weiss

Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Atlantic Limited

Shai Weiss is Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Atlantic and an Executive Director of the Virgin Atlantic board.

Shai and the team are keenly focused on Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays together becoming the most loved travel company.

Shai joined Virgin Atlantic as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in July 2014 from Virgin Management Ltd, where he had been an Investment Partner since 2012 and was a Founding Partner of Virgin Green Fund. In January 2017 Shai assumed the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer responsible for shaping the airline’s strategic position in the market, driving opportunities for new revenue, and leading the loyalty, alliances and marketing programs that distinguish the airline. Through his role at Virgin Group Shai has been a member of the Virgin Atlantic board from summer 2012.

Shai has extensive financial and operational expertise. Prior to joining Virgin Group, he held several senior management positions at ntl:Telewest (now Virgin Media), the UK and Europe’s largest cable operator. Shai was part of the turn-around of ntl with roles including Managing Director of Consumer Products, Director of Operations, and Director of Financial Planning for the Consumer division. Shai was also behind the merger between Virgin Mobile UK and ntl:Telewest and the re-brand to Virgin Media.

Prior to ntl, Shai established the European office of early-stage technology venture fund JVP and was a senior associate with Morgan Stanley.

Shai also serves as a non-executive director of Checkpoint Software Technologies (NASDQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cyber security solutions to governments and corporate enterprises globally.

Shai holds an MBA from Columbia University in New York and a BBA from City University of New York, Baruch College. He resides in London with his family, attends Arsenal games whenever he can, reads The New Yorker magazine from cover to cover and attempts to play basketball.

Joe Leader

Chief Executive Officer, Airline Passenger Experience Association

Joe Leader serves as the CEO of APEX, a four-decade-old leading nonprofit global organization committed to accelerating airline passenger experience. As CEO of APEX, Leader has initiated strategic collaborations for the association with key industry organizations to advance the interests of participating groups, their members, their customers, and their passengers. Partnerships including Aircraft Interiors EXPO, Future Travel Experience, SKIFT, and Global Connected Aircraft Summit. Leader continues to work with members and working groups to improve universal standards, key industry research, and regulatory advocacy.
As passenger experience becomes a growing profit center for airlines, Leader works with senior executives at all of the world’s leading airlines, top industry suppliers, government organizations, and major media groups, to expand APEX’s global industry leadership. A forerunner in aviation and technology, Leader has been a leading executive for more than two decades across technology and aviation companies. Leader holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Emory University, MBA in technology management, and conducted his business Ph.D. research on accelerating technology adoption in aviation

Phil Bailey

Senior Project Manager, PriestmanGoode

Phil began his career in Interior Design and obtained a Masters degree in design innovation and business management. He has worked on numerous brand, cabin interior and strategy programs for clients including British Airways and Turkish Airlines, the latter with whom he has led the development of holistic future customer experience for the recently opened New Istanbul Airport.

Phil Balaam

President, Inmarsat Aviation 

As President of Inmarsat Aviation, Philip Balaam is spearheading the company’s efforts to transform the global aviation industry by bringing complete connectivity to every aircraft and flight path in the world.

He was appointed as Inmarsat Aviation’s President in September 2017, having previously served as Inmarsat’s Chief Strategy Officer.

Before joining Inmarsat, he was responsible for international sales, strategy and business development at AsiaSat in Hong Kong. Prior to this, he was with Arianespace for 13 years, including the role of sales director based in Paris, and subsequently as sales and marketing director for Asia Pacific based in Singapore.

Phil has a First Class degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Southampton, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from the Open University.

Kevin Birchmore

Director of Sales Technical Products and Solutions, Spafax

With over 10 years of IFEC tech experience, Kevin takes a customer-focused approach to his role as Global VP Technical Sales at Spafax. Since joining Spafax, Kevin has successfully sold and supported the implementation of a wide range of digital products and services. Airline clients include Lufthansa Group, British Airways, Air Canada and American Airlines.

Kevin’s IFEC tech expertise informs Spafax’s digital product strategy. He works closely across the business to ensure Spafax’s digital products and services are continuously driving value for clients worldwide and deliver top-notch data.

Howard Blankenship

Vice President of Airlines, Americas, Cell Point Digital 

Howard Blankenship is VP of Airlines in the Americas region for Cell Point Digital, a leading global provider of sales and payment-side mobile technology solutions for the airline and travel sectors. Operating from the company’s Dallas location, Howard provides strategic sales and revenue development in North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean markets. Prior to joining Cell Point Digital, Howard spent over 15 years at Sabre Airline Solutions as a Senior Solution Partner supporting large and complex airlines in multi-million-dollar long-term deals. Howard has global leadership, technology and industry experience in Sales & Customer Management organizations. He has also held key positions across Product Management, Marketing, Solutions Delivery, and Operations.

Patrick Brannelly

Division Vice President Customer Experience – IFE , Connectivity, & Inflight Retail, Emirates, Dubai

Patrick has been with Emirates since 1992 and has been responsible for shaping the at-seat customer experience. He created Emirates’ “ice” inflight entertainment & communications product, winning the Skytrax Best in world award for the past fifteen consecutive years, as well as a wide range of first in class innovations employed in the industry.  Today ice offers well over 1,000 movies, 4,500 channels of entertainment including Live TV & Sport.

When heading Emirates digital & online, Patrick drove the Emirates mobile & B2C strategy and the launch of the Emirates App – critical for future CRM and increasingly important in terms of direct revenue. 

Patrick sits on the board of Emirates Innovation Lab, and has served three terms as President of the World Airline Passenger Experience Association.

Brittany Brunson

Assistant Manager, WiFi/IFE, Southwest Airlines

As a member of the Southwest Airlines WiFi/IFE Team, Brittany is responsible for defining and delivering new enhancements and products in the Inflight Portal. She has a passion for ensuring the Customer has the best possible experience while flying onboard a Southwest aircraft. New offerings Brittany has worked on during her tenure at Southwest that have drastically improved the overall experience include, but are not limited to, free Messaging and free Movies while also leading the development and implementation of Captive Portal and Apple Pay.  

Brittany began her career at Southwest Airlines as an intern on the WiFi/IFE team, immediately diving into the inflight entertainment and connectivity industry from the beginning as she loves the ever-changing technology and advancements in the field.

Brittany grew up in the Dallas area and graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BS in Marketing and a BS in Supply Chain Management. Additionally, she is currently pursuing her MBA at the University of Texas at Dallas.  

Andres Castañeda

Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Experience Officer, Aeroméxico 

Andres Castañeda is a leader in marketing, specializing in team leadership, with more than 12 years of experience in strategy development in the marketing and customer experience field.

His analytical and data interpretation skills are evident in his ability to develop new markets and in the successful campaigns he’s overseen. He was named one of the Monstrous de la Mercadotecnia (Marketing Monsters) by the magazine Expansion, as well as one of the 50 Leaders in Marketing by Merca 2.0, another leading publication. He was also nominated in the Marketers Latam 2018 awards by Ad Latina.

As a result of his communication, negotiation, and business development skills, he has successfully created and led multidisciplinary teams where he also participates as an active member.

Currently he is a board member of both PLM and APEX, leading a group of over 300 professionals focused on marketing and customer experience.

Linda Celestino

Vice President Guest Service & Delivery, Ethiad Airways

Linda Celestino, Vice President Guest Service & Delivery at Etihad Airways, is widely recognized as an industry leader with an impressive track record in her native Australia and the Middle East.
Having spent more than 36 years in the airline industry, Linda started her career at Ansett Australia and later moved to the Middle East, where she held senior positions at Emirates Airlines, Gulf Air, and Oman Air. As part of her tenure, Linda was responsible for cabin crew selection and training, product and service development and design, and the overall end to end guest experience.

As President of the Board at New York-based Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), she played an important role in setting new standards of guest experience and service on an international level.

In 2005, Linda took on the role of Vice President Guest Services at Etihad Airways, overseeing 7,000 crew members and ensuring safe, inspired, consistent and innovative services, both onboard and across the airline’s global lounges. In 2017, Linda was named Vice President of Guest Experience & Delivery, one of the largest commercial divisions at Etihad Airways, overseeing not just the in-flight product and service delivery for cabin crew, but the entire guest journey: from the contact centres through to guest relations; from cabin interiors to the Midfield Terminal; from brand and product to the global lounges; from in-flight entertainment and connectivity to guest research. Currently, Linda is the Vice President of Guest Service & Delivery, a move that brings her into the airline’s Operations divisions, where she leads the In-Flight and Ground Service Delivery & Hospitality, In-Flight and Ground Service Training, Culinary Operations, Catering and Food Services, Hub and Global Lounges, Operations Communications, and Cabin Crew teams.

Michael Childers

Chief Consultant, Content & Media Strategy, Lufthansa Systems

With more than 40 years’ experience in inflight entertainment & connectivity, and non-theatrical distribution, Michael has combined 12 years as COO of the first and largest independent content provider in IFE with more than 20 years’ experience in content management and delivery. His current focus is the integration and automation of the IFE content delivery supply chain, content security protocols, and content acquisition and licensing. His specialties include content acquisition and licensing, content management, supply chain integration & automation, and IFEC business modeling and planning.

He has served on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) PED ARC and was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ACCESS Advisory Committee. Michael has been active in WAEA since 1979, and was COO of the first independent content provider in IFE. In 2006 he became CEO of LightStream Communications Group focusing on automation and integration of the content delivery supply chain. He became an independent IFEC consultant in 2000, was Managing Director, Content & Media Strategy, for The IMS Company from 2006 through 2009, and has been Chief Consultant, Content & Media Strategy, for Lufthansa Systems since 2011. During this time he has also been an industry journalist, including two years as Managing Editor of the APEX Newsletter, and as a contributor to EXPERIENCE Magazine, Aircraft Interiors, and others.

In September 2013 he was honored by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) with its Outstanding Contribution Award. He was the seventh recipient of the award since the Association was founded; Sir Richard Branson was the first. Michael is a member of the APEX Board of Directors and chair of its Technology Committee.

Kimberly Creaven

Vice President of Advertising, Sponsorships & Partner Marketing, Global Eagle Entertainment

Ms. Creaven manages all aspects of GEE’s global advertising and sponsorship team, media operations and marketing specializing in aviation media including inflight entertainment, digital media, on-line, connectivity and print. In addition, she manages all airline partner relationships and developing innovative media opportunities to generate airline media ancillary revenue. Ms. Creaven oversees and develops media infrastructure, IT support and media campaign inventory tools and new CMS platform for media sales.

Ms. Creaven’s previous experience includes positions with Delta Air Lines, Cumulus Media, and American Airlines.


Justin Erbacci

Chief Operating Officer, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)

Justin Erbacci was appointed Chief Operating Officer in August 2019. He is responsible for overseeing a realigned executive organization focused on implementation and delivery of LAWA’s $14 billion ongoing modernization program. As COO he leads the integration of the capital development, guest experience, innovation, commercial strategy, information technology, environment and sustainability and operations and facilities management functions.

Justin first joined LAWA in October 2016 as Chief Innovation and Technology Officer (CITO) and Deputy Executive Director where was responsible for implementing LAWA’s overall Information Technology vision and strategy, in addition to leveraging innovative technologies and processes to enhance operations at Los Angeles International (LAX) and Van Nuys general aviation airports. In January 2018, Justin’s role was expanded to Chief Innovation and Commercial Strategy Officer (CICSO) where, in addition to his previous role, he also sponsored and led the Terminal Development and Improvement Program and shaped commercial and business strategies.

Justin brings over 15 years of experience in global IT and executive leadership from inside and outside of the aviation industry. Prior to his appointment with LAWA, he served as Vice President of Customer Experience & Technology for Star Alliance, a global airline network comprised of 28 airlines serving 640 million passengers annually. In this role, he was responsible for the development, implementation, architecting, operations, and maintenance of all global IT applications and infrastructure components, and led all Star Alliance product and service activities at the over 1,300 airports where its airlines operated. Additionally, Mr. Erbacci has served as the Director of Global Product Management for Credit Suisse, and as a Manager of Business Planning and Technology at United Airlines.

Justin has also served as a senior IT consultant for firms including Reese McMahon LLC, Cambridge Management Consultants, and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Prior to consulting, he practiced law as a civil rights defense litigator.

Justin earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Vienna School of Economics/Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, and a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University of Chicago’s School of Law. He also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Loyola University of Chicago.

Miguel Ferreira

IFEC Manager, TAP Air Portugal 

Miguel Ferreira is responsible for the IFEC Customer Experience at TAP Air Portugal. His role is to manage the IFEC projects and strategy, content agreements, sponsorships, and partnerships.

Over 10 years of experience in the IFEC world helped leverage the A330 NEO and A321 LR IFEC program. The TAP A330 NEO and A321LR IFEC systems are more than a media player, they’re an airline’s digital marketing platform, part of the airline digital ecosystems. The system has the capability/capacity to promote content and interact with passengers during the flight, delivering a personalized experience, in a unique way in commercial aviation.

Miguel also led the project to revamp the airline IFEC AVOD legacy systems, which despite being made on the original hardware, led to a significant increase in the NPS score for the Entertainment category.

Craig Foster

Senior Consultant and Co-Founder, Valour Consultancy

Craig Foster is the co-founder of Valour Consultancy, a leading provider of market intelligence and consultancy services. He has extensive experience covering a wide variety of technology markets including the Internet of Things, M2M, smart home, smart grid, maritime connectivity, in-flight entertainment and connectivity and cabin technology more broadly. Foster has been an industry analyst for more than a decade and is based in Grantham in the United Kingdom.

Prior to establishing Valour Consultancy, he was a principal analyst at ABI Research and a market analyst at IMS Research. At ABI, he launched a new research area devoted to the home automation market, before focusing his efforts on expanding the research portfolio of the company’s M2M service. At IMS, Foster’s research focussed on the power transmission and low voltage products markets, after which he moved on to take responsibility for the company’s then-nascent aerospace research group.

Foster is a regular speaker and participant in panel discussions and has been widely quoted in trade journals, magazines, and other forms of online and print media. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Leicester.

Ryan Ghee

Head of Strategy, Engagement & Content, Future Travel Experience (FTE)

Ryan Ghee is the Head of Strategy, Engagement & Content at Future Travel Experience (FTE), which is part of the APEX family. Ryan oversees the editorial content for FutureTravelExperience.com and contributes to the strategic direction of the FTE-APEX Asia EXPO, FTE Global, FTE EMEA, and FTE Ancillary events. He also leads FTE’s thought leadership activities as well as the FTE Innovation & Startup Hub, which is a first-of-its-kind air transport innovation network that brings together the most pioneering airlines, airports, and startups. As part of his role, Ryan keeps on top of the latest end-to-end passenger experience and technology trends, and actively explores how airlines, airports and their partners should adapt to these wide-reaching developments.


Dominic Green

Director of Media Services, Panasonic Avionics Corporation 

Dominic’s career in IFE and Connectivity spans more than 23 years, with a diverse range of content management experience gained from roles at companies such as British Airways, Spafax and Panasonic Avionics. He also contributed towards the current success of APEX with almost a decade served on the APEX board of directors. In his current role he is responsible for the management of Panasonic’s content solutions portfolio, including live television, gaming and other premium media services.

Aaron Heslehurst

TV Presenter, BBC World News

Aaron Heslehurst is one of the main faces on BBC World News. He’s been a high profile BBC business news presenter since February 2002.

In May of 2017 he launched his own named show Talking Business with Aaron Heslehurst, a daily half hour global show delivering the big business stories and the latest innovations in technology, cutting through the jargon with top CEO interviews.

Aaron has also interviewed some of the world’s biggest corporate leaders and leaders, from the World Bank, the IMF, the European Union and the World Trade Organisation. His passion and specialty lies in the global aviation industry. Aaron has interviewed the heads of most of the world’s largest and leading airlines.

In 2018 Aaron was named in the top 120 of the World’s Most Influential Business Journalists list by Richtopia, and in 2009 he won “Best Industry Commentator of the Year” , voted by the British Public in the Daily Telegraph Wealth Management Awards.

Over the past 16 years Aaron has presented across the BBC, including on the 24 hour News Channel, the BBC Travel Show and as part of the presenter team on BBC Breakfast, the acclaimed morning program on BBC One in the UK.

Prior to joining BBC World News, Aaron was a Senior News Anchor with CNBC Nordic, a branch of NBC America, based in Denmark. He was the European Bureau Chief for Paramount Pictures and Real TV News in the USA and later in London. Aaron graduated first in his class from university in California with an honours degree in Broadcast Journalism and Media Studies. 

Aaron is a native of Sydney, Australia.

Hua Jiang

Director of the News and Media Division, Department of Global Communications, United Nations

Hua Jiang is Director of the News & Media Division of the Department of Global Communications. Ms. Jiang joined the United Nations in 2002 as the Deputy Spokesperson for Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, after which she served in UN Missions in Kosovo, Vienna, Sudan, South Sudan, and Libya as Director, Public Information and Communication. She also acted as Senior Media Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar. Prior to joining the United Nations, Ms. Jiang worked as producer and Editor, News and Current Affairs in the BBC World Service.

Hasse Joergensen

Manager, Passenger Experience and Facilitation International Air Transport Association – IATA

Hasse graduated from the Danish Design School, Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1994 holding a major in Airport Planning.

He began his career at Copenhagen Airports in 1995 and held numerous positions over his 21-year career with the airport. Besides a long career as airport planner he spent a decade as Head of Passengers Department responsible for the overall customer experience on ground, including customer surveys, wayfinding, check-in, security screening, border inspection, boarding and arrival.

Over the past five years his insight on passenger touch points and processing technology has been a leading thread in his ambition to significantly reduce airlines’ operational costs at airports. His dedication to the industry has also given him more than 10 years in various IATA working groups and boards. Among other he held vice chair positions in the Fast Travel Working Group and the Facilitation Working Group in 2009-2016.

He joined IATA in Montreal in August 2016 to continue pushing the aviation industry to improve the passenger experience throughout the entire journey – ultimately reducing costs for all parties involved.

Brian Kelly

Chief Executive Officer & Founder, ThePointsGuy (TPG)

Brian Kelly is the founder and CEO of The Points Guy (TPG), the preeminent voice when it comes to loyalty programs, credit cards and travel. Kelly launched TPG in 2010 during his time as a Wall Street road warrior, where he developed his keen sense for maximizing travel experiences while minimizing spending. Since then, Kelly has grown the company into a powerhouse travel and lifestyle media platform, and through a team of distinguished editors and freelancers that span the globe, has expanded its editorial content to include flight and hotel reviews, curated travel guides, immersive video reviews, as well as global event activations.

Voted Forbes #1 travel influencer in 2017, Kelly is the industry leader, shaping the way consumers and brands approach travel. Today, TPG has a dedicated fan base, receiving 10 million unique monthly visitors and more than 3 million followers on social media. An avid believer in using travel as a force for good, Kelly is a passionate advocate for causes around the globe, using his platform to create change and supporting organizations close to his heart.

As a Committee Member for Rainbow Railroad, he is intimately involved in the organization’s cause to provide transportation for LGTBI individuals to flee persecution and seek asylum. He’s also an active Global Ambassador for the PeaceJam organization, where he brings Nobel Peace Prize winners to promote peace and support young leaders in communities all over the world. Kelly is also a Goalkeeper for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, committed to donating 5 million air miles for the Goalkeepers’ Women’s Movement Accelerator, which helps women activists to have their voicesheard by decision-makers on important issues. In addition, Kelly is a member of PTTOW, a year-round community of innovative and creative leaders across business, sports, arts, and culture.

Steve King

Chief Executive Officer, Black Swan 

Steve King is the CEO and Co-Founder of Black Swan, one of the fastest-growing start-ups in the UK, which combines cutting edge data science and software development to accurately predict trends in consumer behavior. He graduated in 2000 from Exeter University in Cognitive Science. He honed his technical and data optimization skills managing development teams across several innovative technology companies including Movietrak, Yoomedia, and Digital Jigsaw before founding Black Swan in 2011. Since reading Cognitive Science the 90s, Steve has applied his tech, coding and visualization skills to solving his clients’ challenges, helping them work out what will be important tomorrow by arming them with products that transform the way their brands create value from data.  Black Swan works with some of the world’s leading consumer-faced brands including Pepsico, Panasonic Avionics, Tesco, and GSK. 

Stefan List

Head of Cabin Market Insights, Airbus Commercial Aircraft

Stefan heads the Cabin Market Insights department, covering trend research, passenger and airline-related market research and innovation concept testing with customers. He and his team constantly collaborate with customers in order to guide cabin developments and to support the definition of operator’s next cabin experience. Before this activity, Stefan was in charge of the cabin innovation strategy within Airbus Commercial Cabin & Cargo, developing futuristic cabin concepts as well as cabin products flying today. With the Concept Cabin 2050, a disruptive consumer-centric approach to design aircraft cabins, he and his team created a vision well known in the industry. Before joining Airbus, Stefan worked 12 years at the Daimler Future Research Think Tank in Berlin, Palo Alto, and Kyoto. He was involved in the development of various car concepts, concepts for autonomous driving as well as new forms of mobility.

Andrew Litavis

Product Manager, Aircraft Interiors + Inflight Technology, JetBlue 

Drew is a JetBlue loyalist-turned-Crewmember, currently managing the development of JetBlue’s cabin interiors including both the Core and the Mint® Experience, inflight entertainment platforms and content strategy, and their industry-leading Fly-Fi® product. As a Customer champion, he is passionate about improving the onboard experience and maintaining JetBlue’s “cult-following” through a relentless focus on listening to and nimbly executing on Customer feedback. Prior to his role in Product Development, he has also served in several roles across the Commercial organization including Loyalty, Sponsorship Marketing, and Revenue Management. Drew graduated from The George Washington University School of Business with concentrations in both Finance and Marketing.

Hamish McPharlin

Head of Insight, BBC Global News 

Dr. Hamish McPharlin is Head of Insight at BBC Global News. His research team tracks the health and consumption of the BBC News brand worldwide, using the latest in analysis technologies and data visualization techniques. In addition, his audience research programme assists in optimizing Distribution and Advertising strategies for BBC World News and BBC.com. Prior to the BBC, Hamish was Director of Research at award-winning London-based research agency Decipher for 10 years. He has a Marketing Degree and a Ph.D. in Communications Studies from Murdoch University.


Mustafa Mucahitoglu

Customer Experience Supervisor, Turkish Airlines

Having a background in business management and marketing, Mustafa has specialized in customer experience and brand management. He provided brand and communication management consultancy services to Turkish companies from Textile, Tourism and Construction industries. Starting from 2013 he worked as a brand specialist at Turkish Airlines Brand Management department where he coordinated projects regarding brand strategy, valuation, and corporate identity. From 2015 he has been working as a Customer Experience Supervisor of the airline. With his team comprising data analysts, engineers, designers and specialists he is coordinating experience research, improvement and design initiatives on more than 90 customer touchpoints of Turkish Airlines.


Zina Neophytou

Vice President, Out of Home, BBC Studios

Zina heads the Out of Home team at BBC Studios, where she’s responsible for maximizing distribution and revenue of BBC Studios Channels, the BBC Programme Catalogue and BBC World News across all Out of Home outlets globally. She also oversees strategy and business development within this area of distribution, with a focus on emerging technology and new out-of-home aggregators.

David Parry

David Parry is the Managing Director of TRT, the Gate Group / Black Swan Joint Venture which aims to disrupt the passenger retail experience with data.

With 15+ years in digital technology and experience, including senior executive positions at Cognizant and Razorfish (now Sapient.Publicis). 

Erwan Perhirin

Customer Experience and Onboard Products Managing Director, American Airlines

Experienced and customer focused leader with a demonstrated track record of driving growth, innovation, cost control, team development, and operational excellence. Erwan has over 20 years of Asia/Pacific, European, and U.S. airline industry experience across a broad range of disciplines including Sales, Marketing, Alliances, Marketing, Operations, Finance and Planning, and IT.

Currently based in Dallas Fort Worth, Erwan leads Americans Onboard Products and Customer Experience Strategy team. Previously based in Japan, Erwan was responsible for American Airlines’ activities in the Asia Pacific region and leading the expansion and development of American’s commercial presence in the region.

Before relocating to Japan, Erwan was Managing Director Strategic Alliances, where he worked on the successful implementation of joint business agreements with Japan Airlines and Qantas and also had responsibilities for developing American airline partnerships across Asia.

With American since 1996, Erwan has also spent time in various technology and planning roles. During his tenure in IT, he was a key figure in launching transformational e-commerce/AA.com initiatives, as well as key re-engineering and cost-saving airport automation projects. All initiatives were central in transitioning American towards a more customer-centric business model and technology platform.

Prior to joining American, Erwan worked for AOM French Airlines in Paris and Tokyo in Airport Operations and Sales roles.

Erwan earned a Master of Business Administration degree at Paris’ Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees and was raised in Europe and Australia. Additional education and time spent as a volunteer in Latin America has given him a unique cross-cultural background, multi-lingual skills (English, French, Spanish, and Japanese) and experience.

Donald Prater

Associate Commissioner for Imported Food Safety, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Dr. Donald A. Prater is the Associate Commissioner for Imported Food Safety.  In his current capacity, reporting to the Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response (FPR), he serves as a member of OFPR’s executive leadership team providing direction and management to all imported food safety programs under the jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner FPR.  In addition, he serves as a senior scientific advisor and technical expert, supporting the Deputy Commissioner FPR on matters related to human and animal food safety and the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply.


Previously, Dr. Prater was the Assistant Commissioner for Food Safety Integration serving as the principal spokesperson on behalf of FDA’s Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program for imports discussions with external stakeholders, including foreign governments, as well as being responsible for import-related strategic resource planning activities.  During his FDA tenure, Dr. Prater was Director of FDA’s Europe Office in Brussels, Belgium and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Country Representative to the European Union.


Dr. Prater received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (Government and Corporate track) in 1996.  Following a three-year residency in anatomic pathology, he joined FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) in 1999 as a Veterinary Medical Officer.  He served in several roles including Leader of the Aquaculture Drugs Team, CVM Pathologist, and Director of the Division of Scientific Support.

Phil Silver

Leader, Transportation – State & Local Government, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Phil leads Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) public sector transportation vertical, including activities with airports, seaports, transit agencies, tolling authorities, traffic departments, parking, DOTs, MPOs, and COGs – practically anything where state and local government operates transportation infrastructure. He works with the state and local government field sales, solution architects, partner development, and professional services teams that support ISVs who build with AWS.

Over the past twenty years, Phil held sales and strategy leadership roles in global systems integration firms who are specialists in payments, fare collection, traffic management, tolling, parking, traveler information, logistics, e-commerce, IoT, and advanced analytics. Through it all, he has developed a great network of end-users, technology providers, and consultants. He also gained an appreciation for the technology challenges and opportunities faced by public sector agencies and authorities engaged in smart transportation initiatives focused on improving services to their patrons. Concurrently he served in the U.S. Navy, capping a 25-year active duty and reserve career with command of two expeditionary warfare units that deployed overseas in support of our Naval Forces, retiring as a Captain.


Along the way, Phil earned a Masters in Executive Leadership from University of San Diego, an MBA from Fordham University, and Bachelor degrees in Chemistry and History from the University of Florida.

Brian Sumers

Senior Aviation Business Editor, Skift 

Brian Sumers is a Los Angeles-based reporter covering the global airline industry for Skift, the largest business intelligence and marketing platform in travel. Previously, Brian was a regular contributor to Conde Nast Traveler and Aviation Week. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly.

As an expert on aviation, Brian has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and PRI’s Marketplace, as well as on CBS News, CNNI and BBC World television. He has also been quoted about airline news in the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler, among other publications.

Brian is a magna cum laude graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. Earlier in his career, he reported for the Tampa Bay Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Southern California News Group, parent company of the Los Angeles Daily News. 

Jerry Thomas

Marketing Director, Thales InFlyt Experience

Jerry Thomas is Marketing Director at Thales InFlyt Experience. With close to 20 years of leadership expertise in the aerospace industry, Jerry is the frontrunner in identifying industry trends and market requirements for the inflight experience. Over the course of his career, he has held key positions in product and service strategy, IFE product management and airline planning with major airlines such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and U.S. Airways. Jerry leads the way in development for new value propositions to meet market needs.

Jerry holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce, Finance and Marketing Concentrations from the University of Virginia

André Valera

Director of Business Development, Touch Inflight Solutions

André is the Director of Business Development at Touch, being responsible for the company’s sales strategies, product differentiation and business growth. With a background in engineering and business strategy, Andre started his career in the oil industry but soon embraced the world of aviation, aggregating experience in airport services, engineering services, ground handling, VIP lounges and inflight entertainment over the last 6 years.

Vladislav Voron

Product Manager Leisure & Smart Solutions, Spiriant

Vladislav Voron is the Product Manager Leisure & Smart solutions for Spiriant, where he oversees the strategic development of inflight equipment product portfolios. Voron also provides strategic expert counsel on sustainable solutions while building partnerships with well-known sustainable brands.  Prior to his current role, he served as Packaging Manager and Senior Packaging Manager, where he led the development and realization of packaging products from first design to finished product.

Amanda Walsh

Director Partnerships, Stellar Entertainment

Amanda is responsible for leading Stellar’s global partner relationships with airlines and content providers. She works to ensure airlines not only have the best inflight entertainment experience available now but are confidently prepared with innovative solutions for the future.

She brings 20 years’ experience of digital content delivery and thought leadership with both the BBC and ABC, combining a thorough understanding of product development and content strategy with the technical knowledge necessary to work closely with engineering teams, including a BAFTA nomination for technical innovation in interactive entertainment. 

Nicole Williams

Director Field Marketing, Thales Identity and Biometric Solutions

Nicole Williams, Director of Field Marketing for Identity and Biometric Solutions brings fifteen years of technology experience. She joined Gemalto in 2012 and now focuses on the development of North American federal marketing initiatives with a focus on border and travel security. She maintains key industry relationships with CBP, TSA, airlines, and airports as they engage in next-generation biometric initiatives. Nicole was the lead on the 2018 DHS S&T Biometric rally with winning results as well as the biometric pilot at LAX T4 to execute a one-step boarding process using facial recognition.

Max Xia

Chief Executive Officer, TD Link Technology (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd., A BlueFocus Company

Max Xia joined TD-Link Technology as the Chief Executive Officer for its Hong Kong subsidiary responsible for international business development. Prior to that, he had worked with Panasonic Avionics Corporation for over 22 years in various capacities ranging from engineering, project/program management to account management and sales. Mr. Xia was born in Shanghai, received his B.S. from Fudan University in 1992. He moved to California in 1996, received his M.S.E.E. from USC in 1997 and MBA from UCLA in 2003, As the Director of China market for Panasonic, in close collaboration with airlines, regulatory authorities, and partners, Mr. Xia was instrumental in making the monumental breakthrough in inflight connectivity service offering which has allowed Panasonic to maintain the leadership in China IFEC market. While he isn’t obsessed with airplanes, Mr. Xia spends time listening to music, reading books, playing soccer, and is a diehard Liverpool fan. He currently resides in Orange County, California with his wife and child. 

Chen Yizhen

Chief Service Officer, Xiamen Airlines 

Ms.Chen Yizhen has been working in Xiamen Airlines for 34 years and held various leadership positions including General Manager of Cabin Service Dept., General Manager of Catering Dept., Assistant President. Currently, Ms.Chen is the COO for Customer Service. She is the greatest contributor in establishing Xiamen Airlines’ branded cabin service and catering service. Under her leadership, Xiamen Airlines has been chosen as the Best Airlines in Services Evaluation Report, the foremost report in China’s civil aviation industry for 26 consecutive quarters. In 2016, Ms.Chen led the team of Xiamen Airlines to win the China Quality Award, the top award for quality conferred by the Chinese government.

Ms.Chen Yizhen is an expert in the civil aviation service area. She had participated in writing and establishing a series of national industrial standard. And she won numerous national awards such as “National Labor Medal” during her 34-year career life.

APEX/IFSA Awards Ceremony

Join us on Monday, 9 September at 17:45 – 19:15 for the inaugural APEX / IFSA Awards Ceremony to be held in the Los Angeles Convention Center Concourse Hall. Thanks to our sponsor gategroup, Spafax, Thales. Also thanks to our bar sponsor, Paramount Pictures. 

Official Airline Ratings™ Awards


APEX once again partnered with TripIt® from Concur®, the world’s highest-rated travel-organizing app, to gather anonymous passenger feedback based on neutral, third-party passenger feedback and insights. Using a five-star scale, more than one million flights were rated by passengers across nearly 600 airlines from around the world between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019. On the same screen, passengers were given the opportunity to provide anonymous ratings in five subcategories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment, and Wi-Fi. The single screen rating allows airline passengers to easily rate their flight in less than 15 seconds.

Passenger Choice Awards™

APEX once again partnered with TripIt® from Concur®, the world’s highest-rated travel-organizing app, to gather anonymous passenger feedback based on neutral, third-party passenger feedback and insights for the 2020 APEX Passenger Choice Awards. Using a five-star scale, more than one million flights were rated by passengers across nearly 600 airlines from around the world between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019. On the same screen, passengers were given the opportunity to provide anonymous ratings in five subcategories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment, and Wi-Fi. The single screen rating allows airline passengers to easily rate their flight in less than 15 seconds.

Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation


This new APEX Award was created to award airlines and/or their vendor partners who have created a new inflight innovation that is elevating the passenger experience via GUI design, features/applications, streaming, hardware, seat integration, etc.

Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation


This new APEX Award was created to award airlines and/or their vendor partners who have created a new inflight innovation including interactive connectivity onboard, unique WiFi features/offerings, etc.

Best Lounge Innovation

This new APEX Award recognizes achievement in creating a new lounge innovation, idea or offering.

Best Marketing Innovation

This new APEX Award recognizes achievement in creating a new marketing campaign or idea.

APEX / IFSA Best Product or Service

This new APEX/IFSA Award recognizes innovations in passenger comfort, including seats, design, lighting, temperature control, air quality and more

APEX / IFSA Best Cabin Innovation

This new APEX/IFSA Award recognizes outstanding achievement in creating a thoughtful new cabin environment, including galleys, lavatories, and means to increase efficiency for crew.

Newcomer of the Year Award

The Newcomer of the Year Award is for a product or service created by a new member company within the last two years. This award is designed to recognize a specific achievement which an airline has successfully used and implemented in the past year.

APEX EXPO Cool Award

The APEX EXPO Cool Award was created to recognize the innovative APEX spirit showcased each year at the APEX EXPO. In short, you and your fellow exhibitors will be watching for cool innovations out on the show floor, and the exhibitor with the most votes will win! Up to 10 votes can be cast from each member company in attendance to select one exhibiting, trend-setting company that deserves the award.