Four big picture take aways from the SITA sustainability report
Recently, SITA released their SITA Sustainability Report 2022 which covers the activities associated with SITA Group from 1 January to 31 December 2022. Mapping out the strategic context, the report identifies “a handful of the ESG-related trends of the prevailing forces that are impacting today, as well as shaping tomorrow’s landscape.” The four key drivers listed in the report are explored below, echoing SITA’s conviction that the impact of these applies to the wider industry and is not limited to SITA Group.
Climate change and sustainability
The high numbers of catastrophic weather events including Storm Ana, floods in Pakistan, and typhoons causing the evacuation of Kyushu Island are symptomatic of the escalating weather extremes induced by climate change. As noted in the report, these weather phenomena are “an increasing cause of flight delays, reduc[ing] aircraft performance, and damag[ing] infrastructure like airport terminal buildings and aircraft.” Moreover, this has caused changes in flight patterns and is predicted to impact airport operations posing a considerable number of challenges the industry must adapt to including improved weather forecasting, infrastructure resilience measures, more efficient aircraft design, and sustainable operational practices.
The report also reiterated the negative impact of the industry on the environment and air transport’s commitments to net zero which is already shaping the development of aviation and will continue to do so.
Global energy crisis
The research also points towards “global concerns around the fossil-fuel energy supply chains, the reliance on fossil fuels, and the need to transition to renewable forms of energy,” citing the ongoing events in Eastern Europe acted as a catalyst.
Pointing towards sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as well as energy optimisation as key strategies in this transition, the report outlines the global energy crisis as a key force impacting the industry, intensifying the determination to shift away from traditional fuels.
Shifting staff culture and skills shortage
As per the report, the aviation industry’s investment in the digitalisation of the passenger journey and wider operations comes in part from the significantly reduced labour pool. It shares the WTTC statistic that 62 million travel and tourism jobs were lost during the pandemic in 2020, many of which are unlikely to be reinstated. This seismic alteration in the workforce had fed into the push for digitalisation which was explored in detail in SITA’s 2022 Air Transport IT Insights report. This has in turn led to the increasingly “widespread adoption of biometrics and mobile passenger journeys as well as more automated operations” which allow the redirection of the work force to focus their efforts on tasks that require interpersonal skills, critical thinking, and problem solving abilities.
The report also highlighted how the ‘Great Resignation’ altered workplace culture and employee expectations. Now, employees desire the opportunity to hybrid work and have higher expectations for areas of health, diversity, equity, inclusion, and development. These values are fundamental to talent acquisition and retention across industries which will continue to shape how aviation refines its cultural environment. For more on this topic read here.
Digital travel, digital identities, data, and privacy
One of the defining trends the report picks out is the movement away from physical travel documents. It describes:
“A future where passengers can travel from anywhere to anywhere without ever needing to present travel documents and without needing to stop to confirm their identity, check-in, cross border, or access any number of services at their destination – all while keeping control of where and when data is shared.”
This transformative shift envisions a seamless travel experience leveraging technology to not only simplify but also enhance security across the passenger journey. Working towards this future, further investment in tech and an increased focused on innovation will be required.
The recently released SITA Sustainability Report 2022 sheds light on drivers that are impacting SITA and the wider industry. As aviation continues to navigate the complex landscape, this report provides valuable insights into influential trends and their implications.