Aviation Adapts to Change Through Tech

by | Sep 6, 2021 | Airlines, News

Adapting to change is a fundamental requirement of survival. Embracing change is a core quality of trailblazers and trendsetters. In these challenging times, airlines and airports must accomplish both, adapting to changing market needs and embracing new opportunities to optimise their operations.

In airline retailing news, ATPCO has announced the forging of a new partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will allow ATPCO to modernise and speed up the development process of innovative applications.

ATPCO hosts more than 289 million fares in its database for over 400 airlines. Their pricing and retailing content is distributed through every major distribution channel.

In their announcement, ATPCO report “exponential growth in the types of content the industry needs to do business” and sees a need for “a fast-paced rate of change..to deliver enhanced airline retailing capabilities.”

ATPCO’s Dynamic Offer Creation capabilities and the Next Generation Storefront capabilities will benefit from AWS cloud services with the more rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and more flexible and agile capacity.

“ATPCO supplies pricing and shopping data that airlines, sales channels, travel agencies, and technology providers rely on to ensure every traveller has the most timely and accurate information. The company chose the scalability and availability of AWS to deliver the huge volumes of data to customers around the world with the utmost reliability and security,” said David Peller, Managing Director of Travel and Hospitality, at Amazon Web Services. “By migrating to AWS, ATPCO can more easily expand its global data footprint to EMEA and APAC, and accelerate the delivery of new and more innovative shopping experiences to customers around the world.”

The migration to AWS is already underway.

“Powering the future of flight shopping demands modern solutions, and this collaboration gets us closer to this vision significantly faster,” said John Murphy, Chief Information Officer at ATPCO. “ATPCO prides itself on our reliability to the industry with more than 99.9% availability, and moving to cloud-native solutions is the key to increasing our reliability beyond that. Working with AWS means ATPCO can drive more innovation, reduce technical debt, and free ourselves from the constraints of legacy systems and infrastructure.”


China leads the way in airport automation


A new report by Jamie Fox, Principal Analyst at Interact Analysis, sheds light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the $3bn airport logistic automation market.

While there has been some reduction in demand for automated airport solutions worldwide, adjusting to lower passenger numbers, airports in China are bucking the trend.

“The global aviation industry has been battered by the pandemic, with passenger traffic falling by 61% in 2020 compared to 2019. It’s going to take some time for the sector to recover, and airport automation hardware manufacturers, particularly those supplying equipment for the baggage handling sector, have been feeling the heat. But there is hope for airport automation companies, with revenues predicted to fall only slightly short of pre-pandemic levels by 2022,” Fox writes.



  • The total market size of the airport logistics automation sector fell from $3.1 billion in 2019 to $2.9 billion in 2020.
  • The 2020 airport logistics automation marketplace consisted of baggage handling systems ($1.9 billion), cargo handling systems ($0.4 billion), and software ($0.6 billion).
  • Interact Analysis predicts 3.3% year-on-year revenue growth from 2020 to 2025 globally (excluding China), keeping with inflation.
  • China will see a growth of 7.2% year-on-year.
  • Cargo handling systems revenues for 2021 should surpass 2019 because of the greater demand for air cargo services.
  • The automation software market should grow slightly faster because of the increasing demand for digitisation and greater use of data analytics and simulations for preventive maintenance.
  • Self-Bag-Drop systems revenues are expected to grow from $62 million in 2020 to $154 million in 2025.

“Whilst in China, the government is the key mover in decision-making regarding investment in airport equipment, airport expansion, and the construction of new airports, most countries have a mix of different investment scenarios, depending on the project in hand,” Fox writes. “In the US, the government has a minor, though not insignificant, role, with airlines being the key drivers of investment and development decisions. In Europe, the government has a stronger role, with the Italian government notably taking key decisions regarding the development of airport facilities.”

  • The US accounts for 22% of global airport automation revenue in 2021.
  • China currently accounts for 15%
  • Europe combined accounts for 26%.

However, Fox notes, government policy in China supports large infrastructure projects and aims to “radically modernise the economy”. China plans to grow from around 240 airports to 400 airports by 2035. This rapid pace of change will make the Asia/Pacific region the growth leader in airport logistics automation for the near-term future.

“Change in the airport industry does not happen quickly and take-up of new technologies tends to be a slow process,” Fox notes.


Ay, Robot


In cute technology news, check out DFW airport’s WALL-E styled Bag Transfer system on trial in the bag recheck area. The Vanderlande autonomous vehicle solution, called FLEET, will ease baggage transfers for passengers in the recheck area in Terminal D. These neat little FLEETs can handle nearly 450 bags per hour.

DFW is trialling the helpful little robots to assist transfer passengers who arrive from international flights and connect through DFW. Passengers will drop off their bags in one of four self-bag drop units and select their connecting flight on a touch screen. The FLEET robot moves each piece of luggage to the appropriate baggage belt ensuring passengers’ bags get where they’re going.



“DFW is testing the process to see how we might provide our customers with a more seamless journey using the award-winning technology within our current baggage infrastructure and integrating automation for efficiency,” Khaled Naja, executive vice president of infrastructure and development at DFW, told Robotics Business Review. “As we go through the pilot program, DFW will evaluate this new technology and assess potential applications of robots and autonomous vehicles at different points within the airport.”

However, Interact Analysis’ Fox does not expect mobile robots, like the FLEET, to go mainstream before 2025, assuming trials are successful.

Now, all we need is a few of these very smart Boston Dynamic Spot pups supporting airport security and maintenance.


They’d do a great job tracking activities at the terminal, guarding the airport perimeter, and would be a boon to digital twin programs.