The COVID-19 pandemic has refocused IT spending priorities for airlines and airports in 2020 as revenue plunged and the industry faced new health and operational requirements needed to keep flying. Making the check-in process completely touchless is now the main priority for airports and airlines to help protect passengers and staff, improve the passenger experience and drive efficiency.
In a recent report, among the key findings from SITA’s 2020 Air Transport IT Insights, published was an accelerated investment in automated passenger processing focusing on touchless and mobile services. There was also a strong focus on virtual and remote IT services that allowed employees to work from home while ramping up communications with passengers. Cybersecurity and cloud services – that helped automate operations and drive new efficiencies – were key. In 2020, SITA data showed that flight volumes plunged 44 per cent year-on-year due to the pandemic. As a result of this impact on demand, IATA forecast the airline industry’s full-year loss at $118 billion.
David Lavorel, CEO, SITA at Airports & Borders, said, “The severe slowdown in 2020 forced the air transport industry to focus on driving new cost efficiencies. Adding to the pressure, airlines and airports had to rapidly incorporate new health measures such as touchless passenger processing and the handling of new health information and protocols, including PCR testing in many destinations. These efforts have been made in a market that continues to face rapid changes in air travel regulations that make operational planning volatile and last minute.
To solve these challenges, the industry has turned to technology and, in many cases, reprioritised where they invested in 2020. The good news is that airlines and airports were able to capitalise on existing trends to automation and have made significant strides in implementing new solutions that will bring new improvements for the passenger now and into the future.”
Data and automation are key
Making the check-in process completely touchless is now the main priority for airports and airlines to help protect passengers and staff, improve the passenger experience and drive efficiency. Biometric technology is the focus for airport investment with 64 per cent of airports aiming to roll out self-boarding gates using biometric & ID documentation by 2023.