Airlines and airports are investing to deliver secure and easy travel for passengers, with biometric technology a key priority, according to research by IT provider 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% of airports and 71% 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% 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% of airlines and 36% 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% IT spend as a % of revenue. Airport spend will be strong too, with a forecast of 5.69% 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% of airlines planning to have major or R&D programs in place by 2021. This is up from 52% in last year’s survey. Airports too are investing in AI with 61% planning a major program or R&D over the next three years, up from up from just 34% 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% planning to use it here by 2021. Some 79% of airports are currently using, or planning to use, AI for predictive analysis to improve operational efficiency.