The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments and industry players to work together in leveraging modern technology to enhance passenger experience and achieve greater efficiency from infrastructure.
The call came during the opening address by Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, at the IATA Global Airport and Passenger Symposium in Warsaw.
Passenger first approach
To improve the passenger experience, technology options should focus on what the passenger wants. Travellers showed strong preferences for technology to enable them to track their baggage in real-time and to expedite their journey through the various airport processes, according to a 2019 IATA global passenger survey.
The industry has solutions for both these passenger expectations – the One ID initiative, and radio frequency identification (RFID) for baggage tracking. Both need the support of stakeholders, including governments.
IATA’s One ID initiative is helping the industry to transition towards a day when passengers can move from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token such as a face, fingerprint or iris scan.
“Biometric technology has the power to transform the passenger experience. Airlines are strongly behind the One ID initiative. The priority now is ensuring there is regulation in place to support the vision of a paperless travel experience that will also ensure that their data is well protected,” said de Juniac.
On baggage, airlines and airports are working together to implement tracking at key journey points, such as loading onto and off aircraft (Resolution 753). In June, airlines committed to the global deployment of RFID for baggage tracking.
“Implementation of RFID has seen some good progress, especially in China where the technology has been thoroughly embraced. In Europe, several airlines and airports are successfully working together to introduce RFID, notably, Air France at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The industry needs to be reminded that in addition to meeting our customers’ expectations, implementation of RFID will help reduce the US$2.4 billion cost to airlines from mishandled bags,” said de Juniac.
Infrastructure will also play a key role in meeting customer expectations. Developing infrastructure that can cope with future demand, without relying on ever-bigger airports, is essential. In cooperation with Airports Council International, the NEXTT (New Experience Travel Technologies) initiative explores important changes in technology and processes to improve operational efficiency and the customer experience.
Among its 11 work streams, NEXTT is examining several options, including the potential to increase off-site processing, which could reduce or even eliminate queues; use artificial intelligence and robotics to more efficiently use space and resources; and improve data sharing among stakeholders to enhance efficiency.
“Accommodating growth by building bigger and bigger airports will be challenging from a public policy perspective. NEXTT provides a major opportunity to focus on using the latest industry technology standards for a sustainable future. We look forward to seeing Poland take a leadership role in delivering the NEXTT vision with the construction of Warsaw’s new airport – Solidarity Transport Hub. It’s the European Union’s first greenfield airport in over a decade,” said de Juniac.