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Investing in IT still key priority for airports


The latest 2022 Airport IT Insights Survey reveals that airports are ramping up their investment in technology to digitalise their operations and streamline the passenger journey through more self-service options.

The report – produced annually by ACI World and SITA – notes that with the quicker than expected recovery of air travel demand, chief information officers (CIOs) are eager to leverage IT 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 93% of airports expecting their IT spend to stay the same or increase in 2023 compared to 2022. Last year’s airport IT spending rose to an estimated $6.8 billion.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira, director general of ACI World, said: “The pandemic and the subsequent recovery has further highlighted the importance of the digitalisation of airport operations, crucial to the overall airport customer experience.

“This year’s Airport IT Insights Report reveals a significant acceleration in the investment of digital solutions to make airports smarter, easier for passengers to navigate, and their interaction with numerous stakeholders seamless.”

Streamlining the passenger journey with smart technologies

According to the results of the 2022 Airport IT Insights Survey, airports are investing in key technologies to smoothen the passenger experience across every step of the journey to help curb bottlenecks and alleviate pressure caused by workforce challenges.

Biometrics and self-service technologies are said to be at the forefront of this change.

Airports, says the report, are prioritising self-service initiatives, placing strong emphasis on self-check-in and self-bag-drop, with 86% planning implementation by 2025.

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, argues SITA, signals a strong commitment to the next-generation travel experience where passengers can breeze through the airport using their face as their boarding pass.

Digitalising operations to achieve more with less

Demand for cloud services said to central to optimising cost, driving efficiency, and introducing new passenger services. Cloud services also offer scalability, which is crucial to managing sudden peaks in passenger volumes.

Business intelligence solutions are also at the forefront of airport IT investment priorities, with 93% 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, a majority of airports are seeking to implement automated predictive alerts prior to flight disruption events as well as business intelligence initiatives to enable the scaling of operations based on demand.

SITA CEO, David Lavorel, 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.”

ACI World and SITA have collaborated for the past 19 years on the Airport IT Insights Survey, the most extensive study of IT trends within the global airport industry.

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