(24 Feb 2021)
The ongoing global COVID19 pandemic refocused IT spending
priorities for airlines and airports in 2020 as revenue plunged
and the industry faced various new health and operational requirements.
Among the key findings from SITA’s 2020 Air
Transport IT Insights, published on 24 February, was an accelerated
investment in automated passenger processing focusing on touchless
and mobile services.
There was also a strong focus on virtual and
remote IT services that allowed employees to work from home while
ramping up communications with passengers. Cybersecurity and cloud
services – that helped automate operations and drive new
efficiencies – were key.
In 2020, SITA data showed that flight volumes
plunged 44% year-on-year due to the pandemic. As a result of this
impact on demand, IATA forecast the airline industry’s full-year
loss at $118 billion.
David Lavorel, CEO SITA at Airports & Borders,
said, “The severe slowdown in 2020 forced the air transport
industry to focus on driving new cost efficiencies. Adding to the
pressure, airlines and airports had to rapidly incorporate new
health measures such as touchless passenger processing and the
handling of new health information and protocols, including PCR
testing in many destinations. These efforts have been made in a
market that continues to face rapid changes in air travel
regulations that make operational planning volatile and last
“To solve these challenges, the industry has
turned to technology and, in many cases, reprioritized where they
invested in 2020. The good news is that airlines and airports were
able to capitalize on existing trends to automation and have made
significant strides in implementing new solutions that will bring
new improvements for the passenger now and into the future.”
Making the check-in process completely touchless
is now the main priority for airports and airlines to help protect
passengers and staff, improve the passenger experience, and drive
Biometric technology is the focus for airport
investment with 64% of airports aiming to roll out self-boarding
gates using biometric and ID documentation by 2023, three times as
many as in 2020. Airlines have doubled implementations and plan to
double investment for self-boarding using biometric and ID
documentation by 2023 (82%).
Similarly, airlines are prioritizing a completely
touchless check-in process, and most want mobile touchless payment
options for all services provided. The majority (79%), is focused
on enabling self-bag drop for passengers. All essential customer
services will become contactless from booking to arrival,
including automated lounge access and mobile delayed baggage
Airline mobile applications for passenger services
is a priority with nearly all (97%) of airlines having major
programs and R&D in place by 2023. By 2023 the majority of
airlines plan to send passengers real-time notifications on their
mobile devices about their bags and plan to provide real-time
bag-tracking information for staff.
In response to the pandemic, most airlines and
airports are investing more in in-house virtual and remote IT
services allowing employees to work in a more agile and effective
way while speeding up communications with passengers.
three-quarters of airports and airlines will continue to invest in
data exchange, cloud services, cybersecurity, and business
intelligence to accelerate their digital airport processes. This
includes increasing services on passenger mobile apps and ensuring
staff services are accessible via mobile or tablets.
You can read the full report in .pdf
Airports, Air Travel and COVID19 – Exclusive Interview with SITA’s
President of Asia Pacific, Sumesh Patel (July 2020).
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