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Newsletter - 23 July 2019

Published on: 23 July 2019

A Summer of New Highs

This summer we’re seeing not only record temperatures but record passenger numbers too. New technologies will play a key role in how airports deal with this growth
When people think about airports in the summer, they often conjure up nightmarish images of hour-long queues and delays. While this may be exaggerated, it is true that the summer period places significant pressures on airports and our employees.

Moreover, this pressure will not simply disappear once the summer comes to an end, given that passenger numbers generally are expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. By harnessing new technologies, however, we can respond effectively to these new challenges while continuing to provide the best possible service.

Digitalisation has a history of streamlining travel

Airports have never been shy in embracing the opportunities afforded by new technologies and they’ve demonstrated a great track record in using these technologies to improve the passenger experience. Digitalisation, for instance, has been an evolving process over the last decades, with the first automated baggage sorting systems, electronic check-in desks and e-tickets emerging in the 1990s. These innovations revolutionised the way we work. As we respond to the influx of holidaymakers this summer, many of us will ask ourselves how our industry ever did without the tools provided by digitalisation.

Digitalisation is now being taken to the next level by airports around the world as they work with technology giants to develop integrated systems that cover every aspect of our operations. This allows resources to be managed and allocated better, especially in demanding peak periods and ultimately optimises the passenger experience. Examples of current projects include the partnership between Huawei and Dubai International Airport, as well as McLaren and Deloitte teaming up together.

Everyone is talking about biometrics

According to SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights 2018, 77% of airports are focusing their attention on biometric technology. Some have already been leading the way. Finnair has introduced biometric boarding at Los Angeles International Airport, while Athens International Airport has been the first in Europe to trial biometric technology at its security gates. 

The hope is that with biometric technology solutions, passengers will be able to move seamlessly through the airport without having to show their passport or boarding card. In other words, biometric technology will help dispel the automatic association between summer travel and long queues in the minds of many people. Travel should be a joy in all seasons, and we in the airline services industry are committed to delivering that for passengers.

The rise of the robots

With an estimated four billion bags handled every year, and the number set to rocket in the coming years, airports are looking at ways to enhance this indispensable operation. Rotterdam The Hague Airport has been a trailblazer in this regard, working with Dutch logistics automation specialist Vaterlande to create FLEET, an automatic baggage handling system which replaces fixed conveyors and sorting systems. As well as providing a cutting-edge solution to increasing pressure on baggage handling, FLEET is also sustainable as it uses 50% less energy than traditional systems. 

Our industry has already made great strides in improving baggage handling, with 70% fewer bags lost today than 10 years ago. Automation can help us reduce that figure further and ensure in the future that no summer traveller is left without their holiday wardrobe.

Yours Sincerely,
Fabio Gamba

News from our Community

Invitation to participate in ONE Order Meeting
IATA is hosting the ONE order meeting on 28-29 August 2019 and is seeking the participation of GHSPs. The aim of this workshop is to bring together airlines, delivery, accounting and order management providers to discuss ONE order. Your input is very much welcomed at the meeting.

ONE Order is an industry-led initiative aiming to simplify the airline reservation, delivery and accounting systems by gradually phasing out the current booking (PNRs) and ticketing records (e-tickets and electronic miscellaneous documents, or EMDs). ONE Order combines those multiple records into single retail and customer-focused Order. It leverages the data communications advances made possible by the implementation of the New Distribution Capability and removes inefficiencies inherited from paper-based industry processes. You can register here. 

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