An organization of 80 airlines and ground handlers at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has chosen IT provider, SITA, for another five years. The Schiphol CUTE Local User Board (CLUB), which represents the airport's common-use technology users, has signed a new contract for SITA's AirportConnect Open passenger processing platform. Deployed in a virtual environment, AirportConnect Open helps provide an efficient journey for the airport's 52 million annual passengers.
With SITA's expertise in near field communications (NFC), Schiphol has also become the first airport in Europe to "future-proof" its passenger processing platform by connecting it with NFC technology. Using NFC-enabled smartphones, passengers will be able to quickly and easily pass through a special boarding gate at the airport with the simple tap of their phone. The gate will automatically read their boarding passes, even if their phones are turned off or out of battery. This same NFC equipment will also read the traditional two-dimensional boarding passes in use today.
Jan Bruns, Chair of the Schiphol CUTE Local User Board, said: "We're currently celebrating more than 25 years of collaboration with SITA. During this time, we've worked together on many innovations to improve the passenger experience including common-use technology, self-service solutions and now NFC.
"As more smartphones incorporate NFC, more airlines will start asking for this technology. That's why we have already equipped a gate with NFC and connected it to our common-use passenger processing system-and we're inviting airlines to try it."
Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe, said: "The Schiphol CLUB is always interested in collaborating on new innovations that improve airport operations and provide better service. AirportConnect Open helps improve operational efficiency and flexibility, while maximizing airport real estate. Combined with NFC, it will help the airport future proof its passenger processing technology and enable passengers to board more quickly."
SITA's AirportConnect Open enables airports, airlines and their handling agents to access their respective IT applications in real time on shared equipment. It also allows any airline to use any agent desk, gate position or self-service kiosk for passenger check-in, bag drop and boarding.
The Schiphol CLUB's AirportConnect Open renewal with SITA covers some 700 positions at check-in desks, transfer and reclaim. It also includes 90 common-use, self-service kiosks, which passengers can use for check in.
With virtualization, the airport can run the latest technologies and incorporate upgrades to its system efficiently and cost-effectively. It also allows airlines to seamlessly operate at any desk, gate or work station throughout the airport, which improves the operational environment and enhances service.
More than 300 airlines use SITA's AirportConnect Open to process millions of passengers every day in more than 400 airports around the world.
SITA is also the industry leader in NFC, which allows passengers with smartphones to move through airport checkpoints with a simple tap of their phone. In 2012, the company's technology research team, SITA Lab, ran the world's first live SIM-based NFC trial at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France.
Schiphol's NFC gate marks the first deployment of SITA's proposed industry standard for NFC. In 2013, SITA introduced the "Tap n' Fly"TM industry standard for NFC, which builds on the GSMA's vision of seamless, secure and reliable SIM-based NFC worldwide. Tap n' Fly combines a common-use applet to store passenger information and a standard boarding pass format to ensure interoperability, while also allowing airlines and airports some customization. It is also backward compatible with existing bar-coded boarded passes.
SITA worked with Access IS, specialists capturing and transferring information into electronic systems, to certify its NFC readers with the SITA Tap n' Fly standard and AirportConnect Open.