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Banishing lines - airports invest in technology for a better passenger experience

Location: Miami
13 November 2018

As more than 350 airport leaders gather in Miami for the annual ACI-LAC Annual Assembly Conference and Exhibition, global IT provider SITA revealed that airports are investing in technology to banish waiting in lines and better manage rising passenger numbers. Passenger flow management, self-service at every step, and biometrics are some of the technologies being used to effectively manage the rising numbers of passengers at airports according to the SITA 2018 Air Transport IT Insights.

The results of SITA’s global research, conducted in partnership with Airports Council International (ACI), show that 42% of airports have wait-time monitoring in place, a jump from 31% in 2017. The latest solutions for managing passenger flows at airports use intelligent technologies such as predictive analytics to anticipate bottlenecks before they even occur. It is clear, too, that airports using these technologies intend to share the information with their passengers. By 2021, 58% plan to provide passengers with wait time notifications to their mobile devices. This is a rise from 17% doing so today.

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President, Latin America, said: "Rising passenger numbers, while welcome, can put a real strain on airport resources. Today, airports are investing in technology to help alleviate capacity constraints. In particular, they are implementing intelligent technologies to manage wait times as effectively as possible.

“Combined with this, self-service continues to reduce passenger processing times at the airport. Passenger processing at off-airport locations is another element in the tech-savvy airport’s toolkit. By 2021 nearly half (46%) plan to have off-airport services.”

SITA’s Insights show that already, check-in kiosks are the norm with 88% of airports having them in place today and 95% expecting to do so over the next three years. Self-service for baggage is also common-place with more than half having assisted bag drop today and 84% planning to offer it by 2021, and by then 78% plan to have unassisted bag drop. Biometrics are being incorporated into the evolution of self-service at the world’s airports too. Over the next three years, 77% of airports are planning major programs or R&D in biometric ID management.
 
The SITA 2018 Air Transport IT Insights show that the overall airport IT spend is expected to reach $10 billion in 2018, up from US$8.6 billion in 2017. With this increased investment, it is interesting to see the airports’ priorities.  Cybersecurity and self-service processes are top of the list with a massive 95% of airports planning major programs/R&D in these areas by 2021. Along with this, 86% have plans for business intelligence programs and 85% for applications for mobile services and common-use infrastructure programs.

SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights are well established as the global benchmark research for the air transport industry.  Over 180 senior IT executives at the top airlines and airports, representing 39% of global airport and 27% of global airline passenger traffic took part in the 2018 research. The 2018 results once again provide a clear insight on the air transport industry’s IT strategic thinking and developments.

The full results of SITA’s 2018 Air Transport IT Insights are available here.

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