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Meeting airport passenger growth with technology innovation

Published on  11 February by Carlos Yoshihiro Kaduoka , Director of Strategy, Airport Solution Line, SITA
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Six years after China built a new $3.5 billion passenger terminal at Beijing International Airport – which at the time was the world’s largest – it is building a brand new airport in the southern suburbs of the city. The new airport is projected to cost $13.1 billion, take five years to build and will handle 72 million passengers by 2025.

China is building this new airport since Beijing International is struggling with congestion – last year it handled 84 million passengers, despite being designed to handle just 76 million passengers. This story is being repeated all over the world as airports groan under increasing passenger numbers. But not everyone has the funds required to build a new infrastructure required to support this growth – and even when they do the project will take many years.

In the meantime it is essential that airports can squeeze every last drop of efficiency and productivity out of their existing assets. IT has a vital role to play in transforming airport processes to support the three business imperatives of improving the passenger experience, achieving operational excellence and delivering commercial & financial success.

The passenger priority

Around half of passengers say that there is room for improvement in the travel experience, citing baggage collection processes, transfer to connecting flights and check-in, security and boarding queues as complaints. All of these processes can be enhanced using technology, which is perhaps why 59 percent of airports say passenger experience was their top IT investment priority during 2014.

By focusing this investment in self-service check-in desks, baggage drops and boarding procedures plus mobile and location services, airports can enhance the airport experience, save passengers time, give them more information and improve the airport in general - reducing overheads, lessening the impact of delays and making it a more attractive destination for retailers.

Enhanced operations through agile ICT

Airports are hubs of data, from flight schedules and baggage information to passenger flow, and that data can be converted into information and leveraged accordingly to create an ideal airport experience for passengers. By putting the right ICT solutions in place, starting with a connected infrastructure platform, airports can begin to streamline operations and work collaboratively – making the airport more efficient and productive all over.

Building a shared infrastructure enables connected systems, including check-in desks, bag drops, retail kiosks and boarding gates, which creates a seamless airport experience for the benefit of all stakeholders. This in turn creates more data which can be utilized by Business Intelligence (BI) technologies to make the process cyclical and help future-proof the airport.

Drive new revenues

Gathering and analyzing airport and passenger data creates commercial opportunities for airports, from systems that streamline billing and make it more accurate to the potential revenues available through services marketed directly to passengers themselves. For example, 80 percent of travelers carry their smartphone with them when traveling, so naturally they expect to be able to use it in the airport. Airports can enhance the passenger experience and drive new revenue opportunities by making the airport an intrinsic part of the trip.

Read more about how airports can use technology to optimize their current infrastructure in our white paper.

> Read the white paper

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