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São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU Airport) and RIOgaleão – Tom Jobim International Airport (RIOgaleão) are the first airports in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to deploy SITA Flex to provide mobile passenger services to speed up check-in, bag drop, and boarding. It forms part of a wider five-year contract awarded to global air transport IT provider, SITA, to renew the common-use services at the two airports.

Travel is rebounding fast in Brazil following the COVID-19 pandemic. According to IATA, domestic passenger volumes were up 133.3% year on year in April 2022. Brazil’s domestic passenger market is now the fourth largest in the world. It spells good news for the country’s economy hit hard by the pandemic. However, airlines and airports operating in Brazil will need to act quickly and in an agile way to cope with the travel surge and reduce airport bottlenecks.   

GRU Airport and RIOgaleão are the two key airport operators in the region; respectively, they handled around 43 million passengers and 13.5 million passengers a year pre-pandemic, utilizing SITA’s passenger processing technology. Carriers operating at GRU Airport and RIOgaleão can now leverage SITA Flex – an innovative next-generation common-use technology – to help speed up passenger processing as passenger volumes rebound.

SITA Flex better equips airports and airlines to meet the current challenges of capacity, resource constraints, and disruptions, as the cloud-based platform takes them beyond the limitations of traditional common-use infrastructure. Instead of fixed check-in counters or kiosks, for example, airlines and airports can deploy more mobile passenger services, such as roving agents on tablets or the ability for passengers to use their mobile phones to manage their travel fully. The application programming interface (API) architecture of SITA Flex allows the adoption of existing and future passenger processing innovations, helping to future-proof airport operations.

SITA research has shown a growing appetite for mobile and self-service options, which are directly linked to higher passenger satisfaction levels. SITA’s latest 2022 Passenger IT Insights research also reveals opportunities for increasing technology adoption in the early stages of the journey, such as check-in and bag-drop.

The two airport operators, GRU Airport and RIOgaleão, are at the forefront in the region for deploying innovative technology to enhance the passenger experience and satisfaction. They were the first airports in LAC to introduce self-service bag drop technology in 2018 – SITA Smart Path Bag Drop – to improve the travel experience. They were also the first to implement common-use technology to handle the huge influx of passengers for major sporting events, as used for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

The five-year contract signed with SITA includes upgraded passenger processing technology covering around 800 common-use touchpoints, approximately 550 at GRU Airport, and over 250 at RIOgaleão.

Ricardo Suzano, GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes Operations Coordinator and GRU Airlines Club Chair, said: “We are delighted to renew our services with SITA to upgrade our passenger processing technology and introduce a new mobile self-service capability. These technologies will support our airlines’ existing services while also enabling new cloud-based services to be offered, for more convenient and flexible ways for our passengers to travel.”

Lélia Dias, British Airways Station Manager and GIG Airlines Club Chair, said: “As passenger throughput increases, we turned to our long-term partner, SITA, to help deliver a faster and more seamless airport experience. We’re equipping our airport with the latest common-use technology that our partner airlines can also leverage as we collaboratively strive to offer the best travel experience for our passengers.”  

Matthys Serfontein, SITA President, Americas, said: “We are committed to developing solutions, harnessing the latest technologies to help the industry’s recovery and overcome future challenges. Deploying SITA Flex at both airports will enable greater efficiencies and agility to reduce bottlenecks as travel rebounds, while transforming the passenger experience and future-proofing the airports for the years ahead.”

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