A new report published by SITA it, which serves the global air transport industry, says that while IT budgets remained largely unchanged last year, IT managers at airports and airlines are banking on technology to support the recovery from covid-19, while significantly increasing spending on digitalization and sustainability as key priorities by 2024.
Sita's IT concepts for airport transportation 2021 represent the perspectives of more than 180 IT decision makers and airlines in 45 countries.
According to the report, most airlines (84 percent) and airports (81 percent) expect to spend the same amount or more in 2022 compared to 2021, as the cost of automating passenger handling increases significantly. This is compared to 56 percent of airlines and 67 percent of airports that planned to invest in automated passenger service in 2021. Creating a more optimized flight with digital capabilities to increase passenger confidence and increase comfort is a priority for airlines and airports.
Automation of validation processes
The report identifies the verification of passengers' medical certificates as an area of urgent interest as airlines and airports invest in digitizing the process. During 2021, employees of 81 percent of airlines resorted to manual verification of medical certificates in paper or scanned form. However, airlines want to automate this process over the next three years, with most of them investing in checking mobile applications (51 percent) and almost half in health checks using kiosks (45 percent).
A digital medical certificate for travelers is also an urgent requirement for airports that need to standardize verification methods. In order to take into account the increased passenger traffic and expected congestion, almost half of the major airports surveyed plan to introduce mobile app verification. Almost a third plans to check through kiosks by 2024.
Airlines are also increasingly investing in areas such as self-service via mobile services, self-check-in, boarding gates and bag notifications. Non-touch and low-touch technologies, designed to make travel easier, faster and safer, have firmly entered the investment portfolio along with investments in passenger identification management using biometric data. Almost three quarters of airports (74 percent) are currently investing in biometric passenger identification management solutions to improve safety and efficiency in the covid-19 era.
David Laforel, CEO of Sita airports and Borders, said: "The industry is facing pressure from all sides due to the urgent need to reduce costs by improving operational efficiency, as well as meeting the new operational hurdles associated with covid-19. In addition, sustainable development is an ongoing concern of the industry, as there is a growing understanding that transformations must take place today to achieve future emission reduction goals. Smart technologies, automation and digitization are the only ways our industry can find a balance between profitability, security and sustainability.”
Steps to ensure sustainable development
Airlines have put sustainability at the top of the IT agenda: more than half (56 percent) have implemented new technologies to increase sustainability, and a third (32 percent) plan to do so by 2024.
Many are exploring how they can support their own sustainability goals and ambitions by responding to pressure to reduce carbon emissions under the Green House Gas Protocol, which focuses on direct emissions from owned or controlled sources and indirect emissions from purchased electricity generation.
Most airlines are currently prioritizing new information technologies to make their operations more sustainable, including optimizing flight paths based on data to improve on-board efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.
Sustainable development is equally important for airports, where most initiatives have been implemented, such as the construction of airport infrastructure (green spaces, the use of natural lighting and renewable energy sources), widely accessible waste disposal facilities, as well as intelligent construction technologies and automation.
S. Sebastian Faber, CEO of Sita aircraft, added: "According to industry experts, improving flight operations and infrastructure can reduce emissions by up to 10 percent. Airports and airlines can achieve significant emissions savings almost immediately while maintaining their facilities for the future by investing in advanced technologies that ensure such efficiency.”
As the industry moves towards digitalization, the dependence on data centers is growing. The results of the report show that most airlines plan to adopt selection criteria for external data center providers who prefer carbon neutrality or other environmental considerations.