by DION HENRICK
CAPE TOWN – A SIGNIFICANT increase in spending on digitalisation and sustainability are forecast as key priorities by 2024 as airports and airlines bet on technology to support their recovery from COVID-19.
The forecast by SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques) is contrary to 2021 when information technology (IT) budgets have stayed largely flat.
SITA is a multinational information technology company providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry.
According to its 2021 Air Transport IT Insights, representing the views of more than 180 IT airport and airline decision makers across 45 countries, a majority of airlines (84 percent) and airports (81 percent) expect to spend the same or more in 2022 compared to 2021, with spending on automation of passenger processing seeing a significant rise.
This compares to 56 percent of airlines and 67 percent of airports that planned investment in automated passenger service in 2021.
Creating a more streamlined and digitally enabled journey to boost passenger confidence and enhance convenience is a priority for airlines and airports.
SITA has noted airline investment is also increasing in areas such as self-service through mobile services, unassisted bag drop, boarding gates and bag notifications.
Touchless and low-touch technologies stay firmly in the investment mix, combined with investments in passenger identity management driven by biometrics.
Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of airports now invest in biometric identity management solutions for passengers to drive safety and efficiency in the era of COVID-19.
David Lavorel, SITA Chief Executive Officer at Airports and Borers, said the industry faced an urgent need to reduce costs by optimizing operational efficiency while also adhering to new operational hurdles connected to COVID-19.
In addition, sustainability is a continued concern, with growing need to achieve emission reduction goals.
“Smart technology, automation, and digitalization are the only ways our industry can thread the needle between profitability, safety, and sustainability,” Lavorel said.
Airlines have moved sustainability high up the IT agenda, with more than half (56 percent) implementing new technology to improve sustainability and a third (32 percent) planning to do so by 2024.
Sébastien Fabre, SITA CEO for Aircraft, noted industry figures estimate that improving aviation operations and infrastructure could reduce emissions by up to 10 percent.
“Airports and airlines can achieve significant emission savings almost immediately while future-proofing their organizations by investing in the cutting-edge technologies that deliver these efficiencies,” Fabre said.
– CAJ News