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Airlines, Airports Investing in Biometrics to Deliver Seamless Journey

Airlines and airports are investing to deliver secure and easy travel for passengers, with biometric technology a key priority. This is according to research released by SITA.


The SITA 2018 Air Transport IT Insights show how biometrics are being incorporated into the evolution of self-service at the world’s airports. Over the next three years, 77 per cent of airports and 71 per cent airlines are planning major programs or R&D in biometric ID management.


Barbara Dalibard, CEO, SITA, said, “Secure and seamless travel is a must for the air transport industry. It is encouraging to see that both airlines and airports are investing in biometric technology to deliver a secure, paperless way to identify passengers across multiple steps of the journey. We have already seen great success where we have implemented it at airports across the world.


“As the research shows, integration causes challenges and the variety of legislative demands can be daunting for airlines and airports. To deliver a seamless passenger experience, we must all collaborate – airlines, airports, governments and industry suppliers – and use technology to automate, and even eliminate, tedious processes. We achieve the best results when we work together, this has been most apparent when we incorporate secure biometrics into the passenger journey.”


SITA’s research shows that the industry faces some challenges for the full adoption of biometrics for passenger identity checks. More than one third of airlines cite integrating the tools and technologies at airports, and a lack of standards for processes and technologies for integrating checks, as the major challenges. For airports, the situation is similar, though 39 per cent of them say meeting government and legislative requirements is also a major challenge.


Airlines and airports are also considering new technologies for passenger identity management. One example is blockchain; 40 per cent of airlines and 36 per cent of airports believe the main benefit that blockchain can provide is to streamline this process, for example by reducing the need for multiple ID checks.


Overall, investment in technology is rising. SITA’s research shows investment by airlines over the past two years has been stable but future predictions for both operating and capital spend are very strong in 2018 with a forecast of 3.67 per cent IT spend as a per cent of revenue. Airport spend will be strong too, with a forecast of 5.69 per cent of revenue for this year.


Airlines are also investing in new technologies which offer them strategic and operational benefits. Artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as beneficial across a range of airline operations with 84 per cent of airlines planning to have major or R&D programs in place by 2021. This is up from 52 per cent in last year’s survey. Airports too are investing in AI with 61 per cent planning a major program or R&D over the next three years, up from up from just 34 per cent in 2017.


While both airlines and airports are investing in AI, their uses are different. Airlines are looking at the potential of using AI for virtual agents and chatbots with 85 per cent planning to use it here by 2021. Some 79 per cent of airports are currently using, or planning to use, AI for predictive analysis to improve operational efficiency.


Dalibard added, “It is clear that the will of the industry is to change the way we travel by improving efficiency and making the passenger journey as secure and seamless as possible. This requires a concerted and aligned drive, true collaboration, and SITA is fully committed to this.”


SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights are well established as the global benchmark research for the air transport industry.  Over 180 senior IT executives at the top airlines and airports, representing 39% of global airport and 27 per cent of global airline passenger traffic took part in the 2018 research. The 2018 results once again provide a clear insight on the air transport industry’s IT strategic thinking and developments.

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