Monday, 25th September 2023

Airlines, airports invest $43.8b in technology to cope with traffic recovery

By Wole Oyebade
01 February 2023   |   3:23 am
Race to cope with post-pandemic traffic rebound has cost world airlines and airports a record investment in technology, estimated to worth $4.3.8 billion in 2022.

Race to cope with post-pandemic traffic rebound has cost world airlines and airports a record investment in technology, estimated to worth $4.3.8 billion in 2022.

SITA’s latest Air Transport IT Insights report, published yesterday, revealed accelerated digitalisation to help airlines and airports meet rising passenger demand amid increased disruptions, baggage mountains, and staff shortages.

SITA, the world’s leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology, noted that operators want to ensure operations are as agile and resilient as they are efficient, with IT solutions seen as central to their success.

This has spurred 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 per cent of airlines and 93 per cent of airports expecting their IT spending to stay the same or increase in 2023 compared to 2022. Last year airline and airport IT spending rose to an estimated $37 billion and $6.8 billion, respectively.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SITA, David Lavorel, said air travel recovered faster from the pandemic than anyone in the industry had initially expected, particularly in Europe and the U.S.

But, “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,” Lavorel said.

Airlines are placing great emphasis on IT tools to manage irregular operations and provide the best passenger experience possible even amid staff shortages. Over the next three years, 90 per cent or more of airlines are investing in IT service management enhancement and disruption warning systems, as well as business intelligence initiatives for aircraft turnaround management, passenger processing, and baggage processing.

Business intelligence solutions are at the forefront of airport IT investment priorities too, with 93 per cent or more planning business intelligence initiatives for asset management and flight operations by 2025.

The emphasis on agility, adaptability to disruption, and prompt communication with customers and stakeholders is clear; by 2025 half of airports aim to implement automated predictive alerts prior to flight disruption events as well as business intelligence initiatives to enable scaling of operations based on demand.

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 resources to focus on more complex tasks. Biometrics and self-service technologies are seeing major emphasis.

Airlines have identified self-service technologies as key to helping manage irregular operations, and this remained their top investment priority in 2022, with touchless solutions and biometric ID management following closely.

To support effective baggage management and empower passengers following a period of significant disruption, a majority of airlines plan to provide real-time baggage tracking information to passengers by 2025.

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