The air travel industry is continuing to invest in digital transformation initiatives. SITA’s latest Air Transport IT Insights report suggests that the industry is particularly interested in passenger screening and sustainability programs that can make air travel more efficient as passenger volume picks back up in the next few years.
In that regard, SITA noted that the vast majority of both airports and airlines (81 and 84 percent, respectively) are planning to increase or maintain the amount of money they spend on automated passenger processing solutions. Those numbers are up from 67 and 56 percent in 2021, which indicates that automated passenger screening is a growing priority for many travel sector stakeholders.
That’s especially true when it comes to the health checks that were introduced in response to COVID-19. The majority (81 percent) of airlines are still asking employees to check vaccine credentials and COVID-19 test results manually. Many are now hoping to automate that process, with 45 percent planning to deploy self-service kiosks and 51 percent planning to use mobile apps to accomplish that objective within the next three years.
The apps and kiosks are also expected to help reduce congestion at the airport more generally. The technology can be integrated with a biometric identity system to enable self-bag drop services, and speed up screening at security and boarding gates. On that front, 74 percent of airports are already investing in biometric identity solutions.
Key sustainability initiatives include a shift to external data centers that support carbon neutrality efforts, and the construction of more environmentally friendly airport infrastructure. Airlines are also hoping to use flight path data to optimize their routes and minimize the amount of fuel needed for each trip. All told, the majority of airports are already starting to implement sustainable IT solutions, or plan to implement such tech before 2024.
“The industry faces an urgent need to reduce costs by optimizing operational efficiency while also adhering to new operational hurdles connected to COVID-19,” said SITA Airports and Borders CEO David Lavorel. “Smart technology, automation, and digitalization are the only ways our industry can thread the needle between profitability, safety, and sustainability.”
January 24, 2022 – by Eric Weiss