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Stuck at base

Published on  29 September by Matthys Serfontein , Vice President, Airport Solutions, SITA
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Hasta la Vista Panama City ... hello Athens?

For the first time in my life, I feel stuck. Sitting in an office in Atlanta, USA wondering when I can step on a plane and get out in the world again.

It’s not that I don’t have anywhere to go, with more than 400 airports using our common-use systems and about 1,000 using other SITA airport solutions, I’m actually spoiled for choice.

It is just that – and here comes the confession – I don’t have a passport. I won’t bore you with the details of my recent change to US citizenship, but let’s just say the wait for my passport has been tough.

One of the hard things was missing ACI World. It is one of the biggest annual airport events and a personal favorite as I always get to catch up with old friends and colleagues. This year it was held in the dynamic Panama City and hosted by Tocumen International Airport. Even though I wasn’t able to travel we had a great team from SITA attend and they got to spend the few days with hundreds of the world’s leading airport execs.

If like me you missed the event, make sure you read Catherine Mayer’s blog Waves of the future, which details how airports must transform. Along with Catherine’s great analysis, there were three major messages for airports to take home from Panama: 

  1. Seamless journey
    The end-to-end passenger process must become fully self-service, seamless and incorporate biometrics throughout.

  2. Flexible platforms
    Airports need to ready their technology platforms for the ‘Internet of Things’ and for technologies that haven’t yet even emerged.

  3. Doing it right
    Disruption management is high on the agenda and airports need to use IT systems to be proactive, react faster and to communicate better particularly in these days of social media. In essence, they need to “Do it right when things go wrong.”

I’m glad to say that our airport team at SITA is already fully focused in these areas, working with customers on every continent delivering smart technology for smarter airports.

We are helping to create the best passenger experience, providing agile and shared infrastructure and helping airports better anticipate and manage disruption.

So, for now it’s “hasta la vista Panama” but what’s next? Well for me, I hope to head to Athens, Greece for the EURO ICT Forum on October 28th and then to several other European countries to meet with some of our airport customers.

Of course, all of this is dependent on my passport being issued in time so that I can cross all those borders and say "Hello, Athens!"

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