The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on governments and industry to work together to make the best use of modern technology to put the passenger at the centre of the journey and to achieve greater efficiency from infrastructure. The call came during the opening address by Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, at IATA’s Global Airport and Passenger Symposium (GAPS) in Warsaw, Poland.
To improve the passenger experience, IATA says technology options should focus on what the passenger wants. Its own Global Passenger Survey, for example, noted strong preferences by travellers for technology to enable them to track their baggage in real time and to expedite their journey through the various airport processes. The industry already has solutions for both these passenger expectations—the One ID initiative, and RFID for baggage tracking, but both “need the support of stakeholders, including governments,” notes Mr de Juniac.
IATA’s One ID initiative is supporting 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,” explains Mr de Juniac. “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.”
On baggage, airlines and airports are working together to implement tracking at key journey points, such as loading onto and off-of aircraft (Resolution 753). In June this year, airlines committed to the global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for baggage tracking. “Implementation of RFID has seen “some good progress,” according to IATA, especially in China where the technology has been “thoroughly embraced”.
IATA acknowledges that in Europe several airlines and airports are “successfully working together” to introduce RFID, notably Air France at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. “Industry needs to be reminded that in addition to meeting our customers’ expectations, implementation of RFID will help reduce the USD2.4 billion cost to airlines from mishandled bags,” adds the IATA CEO Mr de Juniac.
Infrastructure has also been identified as playing a key role in meeting customer expectations. Developing infrastructure that can cope with future demand, without relying on ever-bigger airports “is essential,” says IATA. In cooperation with Airports Council International (ACI), 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,” says Mr de Juniac.
The CEO of LOT Polish Airlines, Rafał Milczarski, also spoke at the event and reinforced the need for industry transformation using new technologies to ensure a sustainable future for aviation and how Warsaw’s new Solidarity Transport Hub airport would support this vision.
“For airlines to remain competitive and sustainable and to respond to growing passenger demand, it is crucial to implement solutions which will be based on cutting-edge technologies,” according to Mr Milczarski. He says the Solidarity Transport Hub multimodal project is “addressing both the industry’s challenges and passengers’ needs” by setting new standards in safety control, carbon reduction by use of SAF and artificial intelligence to manage airport operations, while ensuring shorter MCT and a seamless journey.