SITA Summit Part 2: Airports sitting on a data goldmine

At SITA’s Asia Pacific Air Transport IT Summit in Singapore on 18/19-Apr-2018 (partnered by CAPA) Airports said they were using data in new ways to improve their customer service and understand customers better.

Adelaide Airport business and information services manager Steve Diamond said the airport is now collecting a lot of information from its car park, pointing out that most Adelaide residents drive to work, and to the airport when they travel. Customer information is also collected as they access Adelaide Airports’ free WiFi, and there is an effort to work more closely with retailers.

Mr Adza said Malaysia Airports is even using data to improve technology and to manage restrooms better.

Airlines embrace digitalisation

Airlines participating in the summit similarly shared their experiences with digital transformation.

Spring Airlines IT department general manager Zhang Zhenyuan shared how China’s largest LCC has used data to link up with China’s second largest ecommerce site. Spring has also used data to introduce baggage tracking, test out a new flexible pricing strategy, and assess pilot performance.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) SVP Operations Ismael Augusto Gozon pointed out that PAL had been an early adopter of Wi-Fi technology, initially opting for SwiftBroadband in 2012.

While at the time the solution selected was “best in class”, it is now obsolete and PAL has gone with the newer and much faster Global Express solution for its future A350 fleet.

SwiftBroadband provides up to 432kbps whereas Global Express provides up to 50mbps. Mr Gozon said PAL quickly learned some lessons with the initial solution, since the system became clogged, as PAL had made the mistake of enabling passengers to use all apps. “Global Express we think will be a major delighter for us”, he said.

SITAONAIR VP Asia Pacific Katrina Korzenowski said although Asian airlines are lagging behind other regions in overall inflight connectivity, they are also pioneers. She pointed to PAL and Singapore Airlines being early adapters of L band connectivity and said “high speed passenger broadband is really the focus going forward”

Technology enables change 

While providing inflight connectivity requires an initial investment, the investment can be monetised by growing ancillaries. Ms Korzenowski highlighted how connectivity can improve passenger experience, safety and operational efficiency.

For example, Mr Gozon shared how PAL has leveraged inflight connectivity to improve cabin management and cockpit efficiency.

Technology is driving change in the air transport industry, but in some cases airlines and airports may not be maximising what it  already has. “Maybe change is there, but we are not taking full advantage of it,” Mr Gozon said.