SITA’s latest Air Transport IT Insights report has revealed that airport CIOs see IT as key to ensuring operations are agile, resilient and efficient
Faced with increased disruptions, baggage mountains, and staff shortages, airports and airlines are ramping up their investment in technology to digitalise their operations and speed up the passenger journey by offering more self-service options.
SITA’s 2022 Air Transport IT Insights report shows an acceleration of digitalisation, with airlines and airports looking to key technology solutions to fortify their operations against disruption while automating the passenger experience.
The industry’s IT spend is projected to continue its steady year-on-year growth trend since 2020 to support this push for digitalisation, with a full 96% of airlines and 93% of airports expecting their IT spend to stay the same or increase in 2023 compared to 2022. Last year airline and airport IT spend rose to an estimated $37bn and $6.8bn, respectively.
David Lavorel, CEO, SITA, said: “Air travel has recovered faster from the pandemic than anyone in the industry had initially expected, particularly in Europe and the US. While the recovery is welcome, airports and airlines have found themselves on the back foot with staff and resource shortages.
“This has put strain on operations, resulting in an increased risk of congestion, delays, cancellations and mishandled baggage. Digitalisation is seen as key to addressing these challenges, providing more scalability and flexibility.”
Achieving more with less
According to the SITA report, over the next three years, 93% or more of airports are planning business intelligence initiatives for asset management and flight operations. The emphasis on agility, adaptability to disruption, and prompt communication with customers and stakeholders is clear; by 2025 half of airports are seeking to implement automated predictive alerts prior to flight disruption events as well as business intelligence initiatives to enable scaling of operations based on demand.
Streamlining the passenger journey
Both airlines and airports are investing in key technologies to smooth the passenger experience across every step of the journey, to help curb bottlenecks and in turn allow redistribution of key staff resource to focus on more complex tasks. Biometrics and self-service technologies are seeing major emphasis.
Airports are prioritising self-service initiatives, placing strong emphasis on self-check-in and self-bag drop, with 86% planning implementation by 2025. Airports’ implementation of a secure single biometric token across all touchpoints has surged from just 3% in 2021 to 39% in 2022, with over half planning implementation over the next three years. This signals a strong commitment to the next-generation travel experience where passengers can breeze through the airport using their face as their boarding pass.