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The new norm

Published on  24 November by Paul Houghton , President, Americas, SITA
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Thanksgiving rush to become the norm at US airports

The US Travel Association just published a study projecting the impact of passenger demands on the US aviation system, and the results indicate airports will soon be busier than ever. Within six years, the country’s top 30 airports will feel the annual Thanksgiving rush on a weekly basis.

With four of the world’s busiest airports based in the US, it’s no wonder. And those loads will continue to grow, according to Airports Council International (ACI). This growing demand, coupled with an aging airport infrastructure, will make it increasingly difficult for airports to deliver an exceptional passenger experience.

Longer wait times at check-in, security, and even throughout the terminal could impact not only passenger flow, but potentially non-aeronautical revenues as passengers have neither the time nor the patience to purchase.

What’s the answer? Expansion, perhaps, but this not an option for all airports. Rather, many innovative airports are turning to technology to optimize their existing infrastructure.

Take retail sales - An extra 10 minutes in security reduces the average passenger's retail spend by 30%. Smart airport operators are using passenger flow monitoring to help shrink lines at security and get passengers airside more quickly, allowing them more time to shop.

SITA’s 2014 Airport IT Trends Survey finds nearly two–thirds of airports plan to increase their annual spend on IT in 2014, and will increase that investment in 2015. They are investing in:

  • Self-service: Over 90% of airports worldwide will provide kiosk check-in by 2017, and we’ll see an increasing range of services provided at the kiosk, including bag tag printing, passport control and airport maps.
  • Business intelligence:  By 2017, 89% of airports plan to implement systems to analyze the massive volume of passenger data to better manage passenger flow and staffing.
  • Mobile: The percentage of airports offering passengers mobile flight status updates will nearly double from 50 to 90 percent by 2017, and most plan to add way-finding and booking services like parking or lounges.

Some US airports are driving the adoption of next-generation technologies to more effectively connect with a growing number of travelers. Jet Blue, for example, recently deployed self-service automated passport control (APC) kiosks at JFK’s new international terminal that use sophisticated biometric technology to more efficiently process passengers going through customs.

We are working together with airports, not just in the US but around the world, to deliver tomorrow’s airport today – airports that travelers are thankful to use everyday.

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