AIRLINES and airports spent a record US$50 billion in 2018 on information technology (IT) in order to improve the passenger experience, and the investment is starting to pay off, according to the SITA 2019 Air Transport IT Insights report published last month. The report revealed 60% of airline CIOs recorded up to a 20% year-on-year improvement in passenger satisfaction, with 45% of them also recording up to 20% improvement in the rate of passengers processed.

Airports reflected similarly positive results, with 63% of CIOs reporting a year-on-year improvement of up to 20% in passenger satisfaction levels while 44% recorded quicker passenger processing times. Both airlines and airports also recorded an improvement in their business performance.

Artificial intelligence is a major priority for airlines, with 89% planning to invest in either a major program or research and development by 2022, SITA revealed, with blockchain technology and robots/autonomous machines also important development areas for airlines.

Business intelligence was named as a focus area for airports, with over half planning to invest in a major program by 2022. The report also revealed biometric ID management and interactive navigation as important research and development areas for airports.

“Growing investment in automating the passenger journey means the industry is providing a faster, more pleasant airport experience…particularly at a time when we expect passenger numbers to double over the next 20 years, with physical airport infrastructure struggling to keep pace. Technology is key to alleviating the industry’s capacity crunch and avoiding negative impacts on passengers,” said Matthys Serfontein, President Air Travel Solutions, SITA.

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