Securing over 300,000 gallons of blended SAF at Emirates’ international hub in Dubai (DXB), the agreement marks a significant step forward for the world-renowned airline. It is also the first time SAF will be supplied through the DXB airport fuelling system.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said:
“We hope that this collaboration develops further to provide an ongoing future supply of SAF in our hub, as there are currently no production facilities for SAF in the UAE. Aviation plays a vital role in Dubai and the wider UAE economy, and we look forward to continue collaborating with like-minded organisations and government entities to look at viable solutions that introduce more SAF, a fuel that is currently extremely limited in supply, into the aviation fuel supply chain and support Emirates’ efforts to reduce emissions across our operations.”
Leading UAE’s sustainability drive, Emirates also completed the first 100 per cent SAF-powered demonstration flight earlier this year and is actively participating in a range of industry and UAE government working groups to scale the production of SAF.
In today’s digital age, data is the lifeblood of innovation. The airport and airline industry, with its intricate operations and vast customer touch points, can create lasting value by harnessing the power of data to improve the traveler’s experience, reduce operational costs, and increase revenue. In our increasingly digital world, unlocking the value in data requires companies adopt a modern data strategy to become more data-driven. Let’s delve deeper into what it means to be a data-driven organization and its implications for airlines and airports.
What is a data-driven organization?
A data-driven organization must do more than collect vast amounts of data. They must:
Harness data as an asset
Drive sustained innovation using these assets
Create actionable insights to supercharge the customer experience
Airports and airlines recognize the importance of data to enhance customer experiences. They’ve shifted from traditional brick-and-mortar activities to omni-channel experiences, driven by evolving customer expectations.
New technologies, like generative AI, are challenging us all to think bigger about what is possible to meet traveler’s expectations. Imagine an airport where real-time insights can predict flight delays, optimize ground operations, and personalize passenger experiences. That’s the power of being data-driven.
By adopting the right mindset, data-driven organizations:
Create compelling new customer experiences
Unlock new revenue streams
Differentiate themselves from competitors
Ryanair, for example, uses data to optimize the supply of food and beverages on 3,000 daily flights with a goal to make sure “no one is disappointed” according to Aoife Greene, Ryanair’s deputy director ancillary and head of retail. Ryanair uses passenger nationality, flight time, flight destination, and time-of-day to predict the right in-flight product mix to delight customers and improve revenue.
Creating a data flywheel with data products
We suggest using the concept of a “data flywheel” to Think Big, Start Small, and Scale Fast to power new experiences and capabilities. It’s an iterative cycle where organizations focus on solving customer challenges using data products. Data products can be thought of as an evolution of traditional data sets. They represent a curated, managed, and trusted presentation of data or insights for a specific purpose.
In the same way we shop grocery aisles and ecommerce sites for physical products, data products are easily discoverable and accessible by anyone with access rights. For example, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Ryanair worked together to make MAG’s airport gate change events available as a data product to improve the customer experience. The real-time data product ensures gate change information is aligned across MAG’s airport flight information display screens and Ryanair’s customer facing applications.
In the broader context, data products and adopting the flywheel approach can help companies use data to improve use cases spanning the end-to-end traveler experience and operations. For example, data can be used to enhance and personalize in-flight entertainment, to streamline baggage handling and visibility, or even optimize flight paths for fuel efficiency based on weather conditions.
Just as other industries are embracing experimentation to test consumer reactions to new features and experiences, airports and airlines can adopt a similar approach. By continuously designing experiments, such as A/B or multivariate tests, and leveraging data-driven insights, they can stay attuned to changing passenger expectations and innovate accordingly.
This is the power of the “data flywheel”.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) use the flywheel as an integral part of our AWS Data Driven Everything (D2E) program that helps customers unlock value using data. D2E is used by hundreds of customers to activate priority use cases using the flywheel and Amazon’s working backward approach. By continuously collecting feedback and iterating, organizations can create data products that add value consistently and repeatedly for priority use cases.
Building a modern data community
At the heart of a data-driven organization is the Modern Data Community that supports empowering employees with data-driven insights and decision-making capabilities. By pushing decision rights to the edges and promoting a culture of experimentation, airports and airlines can foster agility and innovation.
The community is comprised of three stakeholder groups. First, data producer teams are often aligned with business domains (flight operations for example) sharing data in the form of products and ensuring their quality. Next, data consumer teams may use a collection of data products to gain insights. For example, marketing consumers may use products containing traveler’s past purchases, booking preferences, and customer service interactions to fine tune customer segmentation models.
Consumers drive the creation of new insights and innovations using data and often become data producers by creating new, higher-order data products. In the marketing example, the fine tuned customer segmentation model can be published as a higher-order data product for use by consumers.
Last, data platform teams form the backbone that operate the marketplace ensuring data products are accessible, reliable, and secure. They can use tools like Amazon Lake Formation and Amazon DataZone to facilitate efficient and secure sharing of data products across the organization.
What about data governance
Being data-driven doesn’t mean compromising on governance. Modern data strategies balance innovation with compliance. Tools like Amazon Macie, which uses machine learning to discover and protect sensitive data, ensure that organizations can innovate responsibly. AWS Clean Rooms helps customers and their partners more easily and securely collaborate and analyze their collective datasets—without sharing or copying one another’s underlying data—protecting personal identifiable information (PII). For the aviation industry, where safety and compliance are paramount, achieving a balance between security and collaboration is crucial.
The aviation industry is on the cusp of a data revolution. From enhancing passenger experiences to optimizing operations, the possibilities are endless. As technology evolves, airports and airlines that embrace a data-driven approach will lead the way, setting new standards for efficiency, customer satisfaction, and innovation. Generative AI, for example, is a transformative technology that requires a modern data strategy and foundational ecosystem to realize its full benefits.
By understanding the principles of a modern data strategy, the data-driven organization, and leveraging modern data platforms, the airport and airline industry can soar to new heights, delivering unparalleled value to passengers and stakeholders alike.
To learn more, join myself (Brian Buch) and Craig Suckling, AWS Global Lead of Data Strategy, at the World Aviation Festival September 27-28 in Lisbon, Portugal to discuss how a modern data strategy can help maximize value using data.
“The aviation industry is a key area where AI can play a really significant factor. It goes from everything like personalised customer service, dynamic pricing, predictive maintenance, flight operations optimisation. To everything through from baggage tracking to handling of systems, biometrics and identity, autonomous vehicles, moving towards a dark airport, and robots…”
Reflecting on the significance of AI in the industry, Glenn Morgan, MD, Airfusion Ventures highlighted some of emerging trends to look out for at the World Aviation Festival.
Joining as a moderator for several AI panels at the event, Glenn will be covering the tech’s human adoption, applications on the ground, and much more with representatives from airlines including Emirates, easyJet, United, and Cathay Pacific.
As MD, Airfusion Ventures, and an active investor in AI companies, Glenn is well positioned to engage in dynamic discussions around aviation’s engagement with upcoming technologies. Airfusion Ventures is an innovation advisory firm building bridges between leading global corporations and the emerging tech economy. As IATA Chair, Glenn also launched the industry airline digital retailing program NDC, one Order.
Watch the full discussion below to hear Glenn’s thoughts on applications of AI in the industry and a short introduction into his sessions.
The future of aviation has always seemed like a distant one. But the future we look to today – of flying EVs and net-zero flights – might be out of reach for decades.
Innovation has undeniably been slow. There hasn’t been a quantum leap in ages – only incremental nudges towards better ops, safety and efficiency.
In a sector characterised by intense competition and paper-thin margins, funnelling cash into R&D for technologies that might be a dead end isn’t the smart choice right now.
So what is the smart choice? The answer so far has been ancillaries.
But in the face of mounting environmental awareness and evolving customer expectations, the industry needs to start looking beyond its siloed offering if it wants to stay relevant and keep the cash flowing.
Ancillaries – how did we get here?
The concept of ancillary sales in aviation didn’t really exist until low-cost carriers (LCCs) emerged. Up until this point, all-in bundled fares were the norm. But as LCCs started to displace flagship carriers and take more market share, the adoption of product unbundling and ancillary sales became increasingly common.
In 2022, ancillary sales totalled US$102 billion – 15% of total airline revenue. In the US domestic market, seat bookings alone account for more than US$4 billion.
That’ll only continue if passengers keep choosing air travel as their main mode of transport. But today, consumers are hyper-aware of their impact on the climate.
Travellers and governments are pressing aviation to do more to fight global warming.
Ancillaries aren’t going to remain sustainable, unless aviation retailing starts to think beyond the flight.
Moving beyond the airline ecosystem
Carbon offsetting isn’t cutting it anymore. People are demanding more action on the environment from aviation.
Retailing has always offered relevant products like airport transfers, car hire and hotel for decades. What’s new is the inclusion of modes that would traditionally be seen as eating the aviation industry’s lunch.
The potential opportunity here is staggeringly vast, and this doesn’t even account for cross-border rail travel.
But ultimately, multimodality is better for the customer.
Keeping up with customer expectations
Customers want to feel represented by the brands they buy from, including travel brands.
Allowing them the flexibility to book air, rail and road transport in a single booking wins you the direct booking and the ancillary revenue, instead of forcing customers to book piecemeal trips – or into the arms of your competitors.
For corporates who’ve got all eyes on their ESG strategies, this kind of tangible reduction in emissions is extremely attractive. This isn’t just a “nice to have” anymore, thanks to the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).
Multimodal travel will have a profound effect on the outcomes of sustainability reports, and adoption will likely be widespread. But as timely and on-point as it may be culturally, climate action is only a fringe benefit.
Because when the chips are down, most customers are all about convenience.
Visit most airline.com sites, and you’ll only be able to search for airports they fly to – not destinations. Passengers don’t travel to airports; they travel to resorts, hotels and experiences.
Aviation’s missing link is completing the whole journey in a single booking.
Imagine being able to search for a destination, and getting the nearest airport, plus a rail or public transport connection to take you the rest of the way – without having to book anything separately.
Travellers get a better experience. The airline increases ancillary revenue, with higher-quality data on what their customers actually want: data that can be measured against events that impact mass travel – like Taylor Swift’s tour, World Cup matches and festivals.
Multimodality is an affirmation of customer values, in an experience that reflects them as an individual. Facilitating their freedom is precisely what airlines should be doing.
So, how do we get there? Well, the tech to do this already exists.
Because we built it.
The road to multimodality
There are several routes into a multimodal future – all riddled with problems.
The travel ecosystem is a fractured, fragmented collection of disparate, often old systems: GDS, EDI/EDIFACT et al.
These can only support a limited number of verticals, like air and hotel – not rail, ferry, ride hailing, or any other modes. Attaching these modes to bookings takes airlines into a further fragmented realm of micro vendors, with literally thousands of APIs and platforms dedicated to single functions.
Airlines could consume multimodal content via all these distinct APIs – but imagine how resource-intensive it would be to integrate each mode, each supplier, each platform.
Even existing aggregators only offer a limited breadth of products, requiring multiple integrations.
Snowfall has created the answer to this, with Junction – our flagship travel technology platform.
Discover the tech behind multimodal travel at World Aviation Festival
Come and see the future of aviation for yourself – meet us at stand 1-106 at World Aviation Festival 2023.
Yesterday, the Immigration (Amendment) Bill was passed to allow for end-to-end biometric clearance at the airport and checkpoints. From the first half of 2024, this will enable passengers departing Changi Airport to pass through automated immigration clearance without showing or scanning their passports.
Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Home Affairs of Singapore said:
“This will reduce the need for passengers to repeatedly present their travel documents at these touchpoints, allowing for more seamless and convenient processing. Our immigration systems must be able to manage this high and growing volume of travellers efficiently and provide a positive clearance experience, while ensuring our security.”
The Second Minister for Home Affairs also addressed concerns that this could present problems for elderly passengers or those with disabilities, explaining that manual clearance will still be possible where necessary. Answering further questions around the use of data, Josephine continued:
“The Changi Airport Group (CAG) will be bound by the terms of a data sharing agreement with ICA. It puts the onus on CAG to take all reasonable measures to ensure that the data is protected against unauthorised access, use, disclosure, modification or misuse. This includes setting up relevant access controls such as ‘Two-Factor Authentication’. ICA will audit CAG’s compliance and conduct regular checks on CAG’s system.”
Using biometrics to create a “single token of authentication” is predicted to enhance the efficiency of passenger processing at the airport and empower Changi to manage the increasing number of travellers passing through its gates.
The industry’s become really good at using that data and those tools at optimization on days where things are going well and delivering a really good experience for passengers. But I think where AI in particular has a place is the bad days, the days where there’s weather or some other issue. And then once those delays start, the whole system becomes more challenging and unpredictable.”
Paul Gibson, VP of product at FlightAware explained AI’s potential for elevating operations. Predictive data can help to guide airports and airlines, optimising their available resources and improving decision-making. As the industry battles with increased disruption from extreme weather and staff shortages, the ability to harness the full power of data using AI can open up a considerable competitive advantage.
Looking towards the future, Paul also pointed out several ways the uses of AI will evolve from longer term predictions around mass disruption to sustainability.
Get your ticket for the World Aviation Festival to hear more from Paul who will be joining speakers from Emirates and United Airlines, answering the question, “How can we better-integrate AI to improve overall operations?”
FlightAware, is best known for the flight tracking website and app, but it specialises in collecting data from multiple sources to tell the story of each flight. The data is then interpreted and enriched, including with some AI technology to deliver information to customers so they can use it to empower their business. For two years, FlightAware has been part of the Collin’s Aerospace family, enabling an even greater impact on the industry.
For more on what to expect at this year’s World Aviation Festival see:
Reducing disruption with climate resilience: Extreme weather
SITA recently published anarticle on leveraging technology for climate resilience. It highlighted that disruption caused by weather conditions account for 75 per cent of air traffic delays, “costing airlines billions of dollars each year in extra fuel, maintenance, crew, and compensation expenses.”
Patrick Edmond, Managing Director, Altair Advisory told Aviation News:
“Airlines have always had to deal with disruption, often caused by extreme weather. The reality of climate change is that this kind of disruption will become more frequent – whether it’s due to extreme high or low temperatures, wind, rain, or snow – and increasingly airlines will have to treat this as ‘business as usual’ instead of something exceptional.”
Extreme weather events are on the rise and, although they are just one of the many symptoms of climate change, they form the focus of this article. Confronted with the challenges of a hostile climate, the industry’s response comes in two broad parts:
The first, a push towards sustainable aviation. The industry must resolve its negative contribution to climate change; this requires extensive investment and commitment, willingness to embrace new technologies, and experimentation with alternative energy sources.
The second, which is explored here, is climate resilience: the need to adapt to the environmental consequences of climate change. This will enable the industry to navigate the impact of complex weather conditions whilst minimising disruption for passengers.
The impact of extreme weather on the industry
An informal survey by the World Aviation Festival had a look at the impact of extreme weather events on travel experiences and the results can be seen below.
Although this was just a small sample to canvas opinion on the topic, wider research shows the number of extreme weather events has grown “substantially” over the past 10-15 years and this has very tangible consequences for travel. As these events become more frequent and intense with the rising global temperature, this translates to delays, cancellations, and more disruption to passengers.
EUROCONTROL’s article, ‘Understanding the impact of climate change on aviation’ highlighted several of the ways weather events impacted the industry, ranging from damaged communications equipment, flooded control towers, and even melted runways when, in 2012, high temperatures melted the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, trapping a plane as its wheel became stuck.
In addition to disrupting operations, the necessary counter actions themselves can result in further sustainability setbacks.
Research by Professor Paul Williams found that flight paths may become more convoluted to avoid stronger and more frequent patches of turbulence, lengthening some journey times and increasing the overall consumption of jet fuel. Similarly, the EUROCONTROL article reports that in 2019, over 1 million km were flown as a result of avoiding a major storm. This corresponds to over 6,000t of extra fuel consumed, or over 19,000t of CO2 produced.
While the industry strives to meet sustainability targets, it must also build climate resilience to combat the challenges posed by climate change.
“The ability for the aviation system operations and infrastructure to be able to withstand and recover from external perturbation resulting from the impacts of climate change. Therefore, anticipation of and adaptation to these impacts are vital to ensure a reduction in the magnitude of consequences of climate change to the whole aviation system.”
Technology plays a pivotal role in climate resilience. Innovative solutions help to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from adversities caused by climate change. These include but are not limited to, advanced air traffic management (ATM) systems, remote sensing and satellite technologies, and advanced weather forecasting systems. A couple of examples of technologies employed to address the surge in extreme weather occurrences include:
American Airlines’ HEAT tool which “dynamically moves flight schedules around to ensure that customers, crew, and aircraft keep moving when weather threatens to disrupt the schedule.” HEAT optimises data about weather, customer connections, gate availability, volume of passengers on each flight, and any air traffic control or crew constraints. American’s algorithm has so far prevented nearly 1,000 flight cancellations across their network.
SITA eWAS and SITA Mission Watch. This aggregates multiple weather feeds, ensuring accuracy and reliability in weather forecasts. These solutions provide pilots and dispatchers with high-resolution, real-time, 4D weather forecasts, enabling them to visualize flight plans over weather conditions.
In building climate resilience, it is imperative the industry invests in and leverages cutting edge technology. At World Aviation Festival, there will be a specific IROPS Summit looking at how to manage disruption by utilising technology. The sessions will include speakers from AirAsia, WestJet, Lufthansa, KLM, and more.
Additionally, sustainability will form a core topic at the event exploring everything from digitalisation, ecosystem collaboration, and preparing for optimal SAF production, in the first day alone. Speakers include Lauren Riley, Chief Sustainability Officer and Managing Director, Global Environmental Affairs at United Airlines, and Jane Ashton, Sustainability Director at easyJet. Patrick Edmond will be moderating a panel asking “When can we expect the industry to be prepared for optimal SAF production, and what will this bring?”
“Those types of capabilities where it impacts the passenger’s experience greatly provides a negative context to what used to be pretty glamorous air travel. The last thing anybody wants going on vacation or even a business trip is disruptions. So a lot of airports and airlines as well are investing heavily on how to prevent, or when a disruption does happen, how to recover quickly and with the least impact to the travellers.”
Noting how COVID accelerated the adoption of technology in airports, Bill Carleton, Director of Advanced Recognition Systems, NEC Corporation of America mapped out some of the ways that the industry has leveraged technology to improve the passenger experience post-pandemic. NEC Corporation of America is a leading technology integrator with a special focus on safety, security, and efficiency.
Exploring the potential that the World Aviation Festival has for driving progress in the digitisation of airports, Bill explained the event:
“Bring[s] together both the the executive levels, travel technology companies, and pretty much everyone in between who helps make things work both front house and back end house in the airports; to catalyse innovation by just having conversations and talking about what are the problems being faced in this region or that part of the world.”
Watch the full interview below.
For more on what to expect at the World Aviation Festival see:
To keep pace with the ever-increasing needs and demands, airports worldwide are constantly evolving. With air travel on the rise again, airports are not just expected to facilitate passengers and cargo movement; they also need to expand their horizons to cover other crucial aspects, like:
execution of seamless operations with low to minimal manual intervention,
augmenting safety and health protocols,
optimizing the use of facilities, preventing wastage, and becoming sustainable,
scaling up scrutiny and security, and,
boosting passenger experience.
At the same time, with the high scarcity of human resources in most of Europe and North America, the need to establish measures to utilize resources efficiently has never been as critical.
The challenges are not new; airports have been addressing them over the years by embracing technology at different stages of their growth. However, each of these challenges has evolved and needs airports to adopt state-of-the-art technologies to keep up with the changed dynamics. This evolving era of airport digitalization and digital disruption, which saw its inception decades back, constitutes what we call ”smart airports”.
Within the smart airport ecosystem
Smart airports stimulate the need for an integrated and comprehensive ecosystem that demands the airports to be not only fully functional but also intuitive, efficient, and predictive. This also requires that the manual airport processes, which are often slow and error-prone, be reduced and digitally governed to bring automation, efficiency, and accuracy to day-to-day functioning.
Smart airports are functional, intuitive, efficient, predictive, and digitally governed.
Therefore, it becomes imperative that digital technologies and solutions like cloud networks, biometrics, mobility solutions, data science and related fields, immersive technologies and IoT, and other sensors-based solutions, be leveraged increasingly to encompass the diverse areas of airport operations and processes.
Although the smart airport concept is blooming in several spheres, the following are the three regions where we think airports can drive maximum gains:
1. Achieving airport operational efficiency through data and digital engineering
Airports are structurally complex, and a single channel does not drive their smooth functioning. A deeper understanding of the intricate association and dependency of various airport departments has brought awareness that siloed operations cannot be the solution to achieving operational efficiency and resilience. Airport stakeholders need to be transparent and readily available with real-time data they can exchange to deliver consistent and exceptional performance.
With the right technology and data solutions, airport stakeholders can achieve efficiency and productivity.
To achieve this, more and more airports should start adopting networking and collaborative frameworks like AOP (Airport Operational Plan) and ACDM (Airline Airport Collaborative Decision Making). These frameworks encourage initiatives to promote data sharing and transparency within and between airports.
Data science and AI must be leveraged to derive meaningful insights from past and present data. Building such data-rich integration platforms can help airports extract immediate and real-time information from various interconnected departments. This will help smoothen communication and increase responsiveness in multiple ways. For instance:
Swift and efficient allocation of gates and counters to airlines
Smooth passenger flow management with better predictability
Better resource management
Improved runway slot adherence
Further, airports can also employ sensor-based solutions in various areas to improve efficiency. For example, using RFID-based solutions that can read data instantly from numerous items like luggage and cargo and can aid in bulk item transportation with proper tracking and tracing. Also, it simplifies the manual and time-consuming inspection of assets by instantly reading information like expiry date, next due scan date, etc., from the asset and sending it back to the data source.
Similarly, technology in the form of mobile solutions can also stand out in comparison to the usual paper-based checks. Their highly interactive and data-rich interfaces allow airport staff to send immediate updates, retrieve data, and take corrective actions.
2. Upscaling the passenger experience
Since passengers spend more than 60% of their total travel time at the airport premises, their comfort and convenience put a lot of onus on the airport’s authority. Even with many initiatives to smoothen the process, passengers invariably express their distress towards adhering to the airport’s elaborate checks and protocols. The actual journey that begins from flight take-off for passengers exhausts them beforehand due to the:
need to reach airports hours before flights take off,
long and unpredictable waiting times in several queues,
the exhaustive process of baggage tracking and collection,
extensive scans and scrutiny, and,
being unheard and feeling lost in the complex airport maze.
Understanding passengers’ needs, their interaction with various touch points across the whole journey, predicting their next move, recommending them with the right offer, and intuitively guiding them in the right way are some areas where airports can effectively act. Again, customer data plays an important role here. Keeping track of customer preferences, concerns, and historical transactions can help airports in improving those relationships and bring in a personal touch.
The long-term vision of airports for a passenger aims to shift the notion of “being stuck inside the airport” to “experiencing a world of leisure and excitement.”
With features like smart parking, virtual queues, digital identities, baggage notifications, personalized merchandizing and recommendations, smart menus and smart washrooms, virtual assistance, and an immersive feel, more and more airports can work to provide a different experience beyond the usual to the passengers.
3. Bringing in greener initiatives
Now that the aviation industry’s contribution towards global greenhouse emissions is well established (around 3% of the total emissions), airports need to pace up to achieve their target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 or before. The path to net zero is long and challenging, and although there are measures being taken, much is yet to be done in this zone.
By embracing smart operations using data and analytics, airports can reduce their carbon emissions.
Some ways to become a green airport would involve the following:
Tracking & Mitigation
The first step requires thorough analysis and regular tracking of direct and indirect sources that contribute to emissions. After that, airports need to define immediate short-term and long-term sustainability targets. To achieve this, airports must start by leveraging sustainability tracking solutions and showing progress towards net zero objectives. For example, using cloud-based sustainability platforms that offer detailed dashboards and provide periodic details on fuel consumption, offset achieved, emissions via waste, business travel, etc., and other sources and provide a clear progress report using science-based targets.
Moderating the consumption
Although some airports are also considering shifting towards renewable energy sources by setting up solar panels and using CNG, reducing incidents from day-to-day airport operations (wherein the consumption of resources like fuel, water, and electricity goes much beyond the need) should also be tracked. Keeping a continuous and consistent check on these expenditures would certainly go a long way in keeping up with the net zero goals.
Technologies like sensor-based IoT devices could also be harnessed to regulate the usage of electricity, water, and air conditioning as per need by sensing a human presence. Similarly, computer vision-based ML solutions could be used to build smart dustbins that identify types of waste and help in proper disposal. Leveraging AI and analytics could aid airports in measuring the food, paper, and other waste passengers generate. This can help drive eco-conscious passenger initiatives.
In the stride to become exceptionally performant, there is a continuous need for airports to explore further upcoming avenues and adapt. Also, emerging technologies and innovations play a huge role in curating specific solutions, and the coming times will see them being leveraged even more. It would be apt to say that with all these digital disruptions, the long-term vision of airports will be to bring efficiency, comfort, and luxury inside the terminals.
We at Nagarro bring in the much-needed technological and domain capabilities for building smart airports. To know more about how we can support you in your net-zero journey, contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the current landscape increasingly focused on digitization, AODB solutions sit at the backbone of modern airport operations, playing a pivotal role in the transformation of the aviation landscape. As the single source of truth, these solutions harness the power of real-time data and seamlessly integrate the complex array of airport systems and processes.
Making AODB solutions future-proof
The dynamic needs and ambitions of digitally-driven airports represent a difficult challenge for existing AODB solutions and their static software architecture: accessibility becomes increasingly important and providing stakeholders with access to AODB solutions from anywhere will ultimately become the status quo of modern airport operations, crucial for streamlining the operational workflows. Additionally, scalability is of utmost importance as the operational demands dynamically fluctuate throughout the year: AODB solutions should be able to scale both up and down based on changes in the volume of traffic. Therefore, highly accessible and easily scalable solutions are highly sought after, providing real-time data integration on a collaborative platform with particular focus on predictive capabilities, intuitive user experience and flexible integration with an unlimited number of airport systems.
An important operational concern of any airport is the ability to maintain uninterrupted operations at all times. Airports strive to minimise scheduled downtimes and the digital transformation process should increasingly enable continuous operations, upgrades, and maintenance without causing disruptions to the vital functions of the aviation ecosystem. Given the pivotal role an AODB plays in the operational management, the ability to ensure zero downtime and seamlessly provide software upgrades to AODB solutions without any impact to stakeholders and live operations is not simply a convenience – it becomes a necessity of utmost significance.
Complexity – no longer sufficient
As the operational brain of any airport, AODB solutions have become increasingly complex but the new era of digital transformation in airports deems this complexity no longer sufficient: the large volume of real-time data that can be harnessed for a variety of purposes means that standard AODB solutions which are operated separately and only used by a small group of stakeholders fail to maximise the potential of these data powerhouses.
Due to its highly strategic role within airport operations, AODBs tend to be last in line to undergo significant transformation and implement innovative changes. In reality, the innovative transformation within these solutions should sit at the centre of digitisation and should provide stakeholders with access to a highly accessible solution, providing a comprehensive suite of features designed to streamline and enhance every facet of airport operations. Some key features that quickly become an absolute necessity in AODB solutions include:
Real-Time Data Integration – flexible data engines should enable AODB solutions to seamlessly integrate live data from various airport systems, providing users with real-time processing of all operational data. The sharing of operational information with a wide variety of stakeholders promotes informed decision-making and cross-functional collaboration between all parties involved in the management of airport Additionally, any such solution should allow extensibility of its data model to include both new types of systems and data that appeared recently or will appear in the future.
Collaborative Platform: collaboration is key in streamlining airport operations and AODB solutions should become a platform which fosters this among all airport stakeholders, including airlines, ground handlers, airport staff, authorities and any other relevant Important capabilities such as A-CDM tools along with the implementation of collaboratively-agreed rolling plans as part of the AOP module make AODBs a centralised hub for communication, enabling synchronised operations in real-time and facilitating swift responses to unexpected operational changes or scenarios. Importantly, existing licensing models based on usage or number of users have rapidly become outdated and modern solutions must enable stakeholders to access the solution with the appropriate level of permissions based on their role in managing airport operations.
Predictive Analytics: as the single source of truth, AODBs have access to a very large volume of operational data and while reporting historical data is a key functionality, predictive analytical capabilities are becoming a key element in the process of transforming digital operations and increasingly critical for any AODB solution. Predictive capabilities should leverage the power of data analytics in order to provide predictive insights into potential disruptions and operational By proactively identifying issues, airport staff can take preventive measures, minimising disruptions and enhancing operational efficiency.
User Experience: In the realm of complex and efficiently managed airport operations, the success of AODB solutions often hinges on their ability to simplify complexity. Given the large volume of operational data that needs to be managed, providing stakeholders with a pleasant user experience is paramount: it enables them to fully focus on the critical decision-making for operational
The Cornerstone of Digitisation
As the aviation industry propels into the digital age and airports focus on the digitization of their operations, AODB solutions should become the technological cornerstone of this digital transformation process and empowers airports to not only meet but exceed their expectations in this new era of agile, data-driven, and passenger-centric airport operations. They should harness the power of real-time data with a suite of innovative yet fully comprehensive features that allows airports to streamline their operational workflows whilst providing all stakeholders with the insights required to adapt swiftly to dynamic operational scenarios.
In an industry where efficiency, collaboration, and passenger satisfaction reign supreme, AirportLabs’ SkyCore AODB emerges as a beacon of innovation and is a proven solution in some of the largest and most complex operations in the world, as well as in airports of a smaller scale.
Pay us a visit on September 26th – 28th at the World Aviation Festival in Lisbon, where you can schedule a demo of SkyCore AODB, take part in our our keynote presentation about the future of airport operations and engage with us during the panel discussion, where industry leaders will share insights on the role of emerging tech innovation in shaping the aviation industry.
The aviation industry connects people, boosts economies, and fosters international collaboration. To enable its long term benefits to continue, aviation urgently needs to decarbonise.
For now, the path to a decarbonised aviation sector is not yet clear, with hydrogen, SAF, synthetic fuels or batteries, and many more approaches all working towards a greener future.
This week, major players in the UK aviation and renewable energy sectors established the Hydrogen in Aviation (HIA) alliance. Members including easyJet, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Ørsted, GKN Aerospace and Bristol Airport will work collaboratively to accelerate the delivery of zero carbon aviation, urging more attention should be paid to the potential of the direct use of hydrogen.
Composed of members that have already begun developing new hydrogen powered aircraft and tested hydrogen powered jet engines, HIA is well positioned to fast-track the industry’s progress.
Sabine Klauke, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus said:
“As Airbus continues to mature the aircraft technologies needed to deliver hydrogen-powered flight, a united industry voice is needed to secure a robust ecosystem of renewably-sourced hydrogen. Joining our peers from across the UK aviation landscape in a targeted approach to policy and investment action brings us closer to a decarbonised future of flying.”
The alliance urges collaboration across policy makers, promising to work constructively with Government, local authorities, and the aviation and hydrogen sectors. Eager to position the UK as a global leader of hydrogen in aviation, Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet and first Chair of HIA, said:
“There is no doubt that the UK has the potential to become a world leader in hydrogen aviation, which could bring with it a £34bn per annum boost to the country’s economy by 2050, but in order to capture this opportunity, rapid change is needed and the time to act is now.
We must work together to deliver the radical solutions required for a hard to abate industry like aviation so we can protect and maximise the benefits that it brings to the UK economy and society and that we know British consumers want to be preserved.
HIA looks forward to working with the UK Government to ensure the right funding, regulatory and policy changes are implemented to accelerate the delivery of zero carbon aviation.”
It is likely we will see more alliances and partnerships forged, as the industry strives towards sustainability.
At this year’s World Aviation Festival, Jane Ashton, Sustainability Director, easyJet will be speaking alongside Caroline Drischel, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Lufthansa Group, Gonçalo Pires, Chief Financial Officer, TAP Air Portugal, Yvonne Moynihan, Chief Corporate and ESG Officer, Wizz Air, and others discussing how the aviation ecosystem can work better to achieve global sustainability goals. Book your ticket now to hear what they have to say.
The most crucial identity industries, defined by FindBiometrics and Acuity Market Intelligence are: financial services, government services, healthcare, hospitality, and travel. These foundational sectors rely on a complex, rapidly evolving ecosystem that spans big tech, web3, authentication, identity verification, targeted biometric solutions, biometric identity platforms, core biometric technologies, and identity platforms. This ecosystem is envisioned in the Biometric Digital Identity Prism, a proprietary visualization describing the current digital identity landscape as it relates to the aforementioned industries.
The aviation industry is evolving quickly as flight volumes return to pre-pandemic levels. With over 4.1 billion travelers expected to fly in 2023, airports and airlines are being put to the test as passenger demand meets the reality of operational challenges. Digitization technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics are being looked at to ease the burden in coordination with identity automation.
Aviation is a unique sector in the context of the Prism. The needs of airports, airlines, government travel and border agencies are interrelated and cannot be served by discrete, siloed solutions. From booking to arrival at a destination, passenger identity must remain consistently trusted and secure throughout the journey, not just for the best possible customer experience, but for the sake of security and operational efficiencies. While identity platforms are well suited for this sector, companies in the Prism’s ”Big 3” segment best serve the complexity of the passenger identity lifecycle.
Passenger demands shape the future of aviation
The passenger experience is the catalyst for evolution in the aviation sector. Today’s passenger is a technology-literate traveler who expects a mobile-first experience and is not accustomed to delays. Operational struggles experienced by airlines and airports in 2022—from misplaced baggage to significant delays and cancellations—have marred the travel experience in mainstream and social media. Thankfully, enhancing the customer experience by reducing friction within the passenger journey has the effect of improving operations through streamlined throughput, automation, and enhanced security.
Following the passenger journey, one sees a map of identity transactions: booking, check-in, bag check, security, boarding, flight, customs, and baggage pickup. And that’s not including the retail and service transactions along the way. Every time a passenger interacts with an airline, agency, retailer, or other stakeholder during their travel journey, they must prove who they are. The easier that is, the less friction and stress they experience.
According to SITA—the world’s leading aviation IT services provider with deployments in over 200 countries—the most pressing pain points for passengers are the touchpoints with the most friction: health checks, security screening, and bag collection. Invasive, time-consuming, and out of the passenger’s control, these three processes are in opposition to on-demand services. Thankfully, they are also the areas seeing the highest levels of innovation, and therefore the greatest rate of improvement.
Following passenger demand, we see the evolution of aviation trending toward frictionless, identity-first gateways that leverage consumer mobile technology and robust IT infrastructure to allow for fast and reliable identity checks at every touchpoint. By the end of the decade, the travel experience will allow travelers to enroll their biometrics and identity data when they book a trip on their phone, check-in and drop-off their bag in a fully automated fashion, speed through security without invasive measures, purchase food, retail items and airport amenities with their face or their phone, and board their plane in record time without having to dig through their belongings for their physical ID.
And while that’s all great for the customer, it’s even better for the airlines and airports…
“Travelers are telling the industry loud and clear: the more they are subjected to clunky and inefficient processes, the more likely they are to consider other options. They demand that the industry offer the same digital options they use in their daily lives to make travel easier.
As the industry pushes for a seamless travel experience, boosting efficiency and digitisation, it is vital that passenger expectations are understood.
SITA’s 2023 Passenger IT Insights report, released earlier today looks at the evolving landscape of passengers expectations and technology adoption, providing a useful guide as aviation continues to invest in digitising the travel experience.
SITA 2023 Passenger IT Insights
Here are twelve key findings from the report:
Passengers are increasingly comfortable using technology and demanding new services during travel.
Rates of technology adoption are on the rise at each stage of the journey with 92 per cent of passengers using booking tech in 2023.
The two areas showing the biggest increases in technology adoption this year have been dwell time (+7 per cent) and check-in (+6 per cent).
The use of mobile devices has grown steadily over the years and travellers rely more on mobile apps for booking and connectivity during dwell time and on board.
Areas like baggage handling and border control lag behind in the availability of technology and passenger comfort levels with its use.
Boarding, security, and identity verification remain the three areas where average comfort levels are highest when it comes to the use of biometrics – Boarding (7.59), security (7.57), and identify verification (7.42) out of 10.
Passengers want to see better flight options and more automated checks before arriving at the airport, enabling them to arrive at the airport ready to fly.
Three in four passengers expect to book intermodal trips in the coming year, with growing interest in technology to streamline processes such as baggage handling across the entire journey.
When identifying valuable smart solutions on an intermodal journey, 33 per cent expressed desire for a feature enabling them to drop off their baggage at the journey’s start point and have it seamlessly delivered to the destination.
Sustainability initiatives have grown in importance to passengers in 2023.
Despite playing a key role in the passenger decision-making process, sustainability may not influence their decision to travel more.
At the booking stage, passengers have indicated that the primary source of anxiety is now flight delays and cancellations.
Expressing confidence in the industry’s investment in digitisation, David Lavorel, CEO, SITA said:
As the industry looks to ramp up spending on technology, they can rest assured that passengers will welcome automated, self-service options in the airport. It will also help airlines and airports grow without sacrificing the passenger experience.
With the demand for travel looking strong and the industry committed to technological advancement, the findings of this report will help to keep the industry at the forefront of innovation whilst prioritising passenger expectations.
In two months, Abu Dhabi International Airport will welcome travellers to its new state-of-the-art terminal: Terminal A.
Highlighting the airport’s commitment to elevating the passenger experience, Elena Sorlini, Managing Director & Interim CEO, Abu Dhabi Airports, said:
“Terminal A underscores our dedication to providing our international passengers and partners with a premium airport experience. The terminal exemplifies our commitment to excellence and offering exceptional services that meet the evolving priorities of today’s travellers. Through leveraging the latest technologies, Abu Dhabi’s reimagined airport experience will offer a seamless passenger journey, fostering connectivity, interactions, business, trade and tourism, all of which are essential elements in strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position on the world stage.”
Built to accommodate 45 million people the terminal leverages a range of interconnected biometric systems, making it capable of processing 11,000 passengers per hour. Moreover, the journey from pre-travel to boarding gate will be digitised and checkpoints streamlined to create an elevated and efficient experience for passengers.
Image credit: Abu Dhabi Airports
In addition to winning international design awards for its striking architecture, the new terminal has been constructed with sustainability as a core principle. The building boasts a fully integrated solar photovoltaic system on the car park roof currently powering a three-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant saving nearly 5,300t of CO2 annually.
As the product of cutting-edge technology, dedication to passenger experience, and commitment to sustainability, the new terminal will explore what can be achieved when innovation, customer-centricity, and sustainability converge.
In an industry as dynamic and transformational as aviation, the notion of a “festival” might seem frivolous. After all, we’re talking about a sector responsible for the safe and efficient transport of millions of people and shipments every day around the globe.
I’m asking the question of mood because my mind is in two places at the same time. On the festive side, you have heard that passenger volumes have recovered pre-Covid levels after three years of crisis, and States have agreed on a net zero CO2 emissions goal by 2050.
At the serious side, we are moving into an era of uncertainty related to energy transition environmental sustainability, and you can hear, especially in Europe, that the public is skeptical about the aviation’s goal to cut their share of CO2 emission, currently at 2% of the world’s total emissions.
While the continuous benefits of aviation and the new developments are worth gathering and celebrating, the pressure on decarbonizing faster is a growing concern.
Reducing aviation’s environmental impact
The big picture of CO2 emissions is that the industrial age, powered by fossil fuel combustion, is generating greenhouse gas (GHG) which contribute to climate change and global warming. The official source for data on this topic is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the “United Nation’s body for assessing the science related to climate change”. Their latest “Summary for Policymakers” provides trends, by type of emission or by region, and solutions, by type of energy, to limit global warming.
For simplicity, according to 2016 figures, with global GHG emissions of 50 billion tonnes, see below, the industry roughly represents 24% of GHG emissions, agriculture 18%, buildings 17%, and transport 16%. All sectors have got their respective plans to reduce their emissions. In transport, road (12%), air (2%) and maritime (2%) add up to the 16%. While road has started deploying electric vehicles powered by batteries, the plan for air transport is a new synthetic fuel called SAF (for Sustainable Aviation Fuel).
Air transport needs an energy transition away from fossil fuels. In some regions the transition is driven by the pressure of climate change and global warming forecast, in other regions the end of the supply of fossil fuels in the coming decade will require a similar transition. In the last 12 months, States, collectively under their organization for aviation, ICAO, have adopted a Long-Term Aspirational Goal for net-zero emission by 2050, and the airlines’ association, IATA, has published their plan, called Net Zero Roadmaps. While there is a long way to go, and 2050 sounds far away, it is re-assuring to know that States, airlines and the entire aviation industry has a goal and a roadmap to reduce their CO2 footprint.
The real challenge, for aviation and the world, may be elsewhere, in the geographical differences and geopolitics. If you look at the CO2 emissions in the world in the past 50 years, the world went roughly from 17 Bn tonnes to 37 Bn tonnes, more than double. At a personal level, the CO2 in atmosphere was 332 parts per million when I was born in 1973 and is now 411 ppm. Interestingly, Europe’s emissions have decreased in the past 50 years, from about 4 Bn tonnes per year to 3 Bn, while the rest of the world grew indeed from 13 Bn to 34 Bn. The population in Europe (and the developed world) benefits from a mature economy and from historical infrastructure investments which help reduce emissions, while the rest of the world has a developing economy and growing needs for energy, production and transport.
We’ve almost recovered from COVID
Air traffic has almost fully recovered post-Covid, reaching in June 2023 95% of the same period in 2019. During this year of recovery and mechanically strong growth (traffic was 31% higher than same period in 2022), demand grew faster than supply, as airlines and the supply chain struggled to put aircraft quickly in the sky. The result of the supply / demand profile is higher airline fares and consequently strong profitability.
For example, Emirates reported their most profitable year, at US$ 3 billion profit for 2022-2023. This profit alone however is not big enough to compensate for the Covid losses. Similarly, IAG reported record Q2 profit in 2023 at €1.2 billion. At industry level IATA expects profits $9.8 billion in 2023, which is only 1.2% profit margin and not enough to make the industry financially sustainable.
If traffic numbers airlines have recovered from Covid, and airlines have shown profits recently, airlines have not compensated the losses accumulated during the Covid crisis and the entire industry is still fragile.
Benefits of aviation
The suspension of air travel during Covid reminded everyone of the benefits of aviation. We remember the value of something once we miss it. The impossibility to visit friends and family, to go on holidays or to meet clients and partners for business made us travel. The limitations on the cargo supply chain slowed down the entire economy, reducing the food deliveries or availability of consumer electronics. Some countries, like island states, which are highly dependent on aviation, suffered the most from the suspension and isolation from the rest of the world.
The alternative mode of transport often quoted to replace air transport is rail. In mature markets like Europe, where a broad network is available, the operational (environmental) cost of rail is lower than air transport. However in the majority of the world where rail is not available, the (environmental) cost of building the rail infrastructure is very high. Studies show $1m to $2m for 1km of conventional rail, much more for high-speed rail. If we add a tunnel or bridge, the cost is $10m to $100m per kilometre. It means that a developing country has a choice of paying nothing to connect two airports by air over a distance of 1000km or paying $1bn-$10bn to connect the two train stations over the same distance. Whenever the transport infrastructure budget competes with health, education and other budget, the decision to invest billions in railway infrastructure is not obvious. For the same cost, would you build one railway or a thousand schools and hospitals for your country?
Time for gathering but too early for celebrating
Given the climate change issues and the benefits of aviation, the debate may not be so much about the value of air transport, but about the viability if we don’t implement sustainable solutions quickly. The energy transition, away from fossil fuels, at global level, translates for the aviation sector into the production and distribution of new fuels.
The World Aviation Festival is the opportunity for gathering and debating many topics which can make the air travel experience better and the air travel industry more sustainable. The aviation sector has faced major challenges since the inception of the international framework in 1944, including the unprecedented events of 9/11 and Covid-19. The next challenge may be its biggest ever, but it is not a surprise: the need to decarbonize the industry, while dealing with a reduced growth in traffic.
Personally, I will attend the World Aviation Festival in Europe, as I’m in the mood for gathering with passionate people who want to make air travel sustainable. Europe has demonstrated the ability to cap CO2 emissions over decades, and may be able to lead the way to net zero emissions in aviation.
Originally intended to commence on August 31st, Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru’s (BLR Airport) Terminal 2 (T2) is now scheduled to begin international operations on September 12th from 10:45am.
A spokesperson explained the last minute decision to postpone was:
“Taken after careful evaluation and consideration of various factors, including regulatory compliance, operational efficiency, and passenger convenience.”
Singapore Airlines is set to operate the first flight (SQ 508) to arrive at the new terminal at 10:55am.
Credit: Str/Xinhua. Terminal 2 of Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore, India.
The new terminal is built on the key pillars of technology and sustainability and will play a crucial role in boosting the economic growth of the region and the country, by creating more opportunities for businesses in and around the airport. To learn about the tech advancements integrated into the airports’ operations and its sustainability initiatives watch this interview with Hari Marar, MD & CEO BLR from January.
Last week, Bloomberg reported that Royal Schiphol Group plans to cut capacity by eight per cent starting this winter were at an impasse due to legal challenges as well as Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government moving into caretaker mode ahead of elections in November.
Publishing its response to the proposed cuts yesterday, IATA urged that pushing through the flight cuts now would be “irresponsible on several levels,” citing the below in a robust defense of their stance:
It will demonstrate a contempt of the necessary democratic and legal scrutiny required of such a highly irregular and economically damaging proposal.
It will place the Netherlands squarely in conflict with its trading partners defending their rights under international agreements and bilateral treaties,
It should provoke the EU to defend its own laws which require rigorous application of the Balanced Approach, and
It will cause significant harm to the economy and jobs.
Willie Wash, Director General, IATA added:
“Airlines are fully committed to addressing noise issues at airports under a proper Balanced Approach process. It is essential that any decision be postponed until a fully functioning and accountable government with a fresh mandate is in place. This unprecedented and complex proposal can then be considered carefully, with the legal questions settled and the full facts and implications understood and in the public domain, and with sufficient time for the air transport industry to adapt if necessary, when a final decision is known.”
Last month, a World Aviation Festival poll asked whether people thought Schiphol could serve as an example for other airports to follow in decreasing their flight capacity:
Has IATA’s latest response changed how you would vote?
Later this month, Willie Walsh will be giving a keynote interview and speaking on a CEO panel at World Aviation Festival answering the question “What is the future of the global aviation industry as we return to profitability and how will sustainability challenges, digital experiences, macro economics, tech trends and passenger behaviours help shape the outlook for 2024 and beyond?” alongside the CEOs of Pegasus Airlines, IAG, TAP Air Portugal and the President of Emirates. Book your ticket now to hear directly from industry leaders.
“We’re investing in technology that takes processes traditionally only available at an airport and makes them possible from your smartphone. This new Mobile Verify technology creates a seamless airport experience for guests traveling internationally — eliminating the uncertainty that comes with having to wait in airport lines.”
Here, Charu Jain, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Merchandising at Alaska Airlines highlights the technology that is bringing the airline closer to its goal of getting passengers through the lobby in five minutes or less.
Yesterday, Alaska Airlines showed it will be using biometric identities to elevate the airport experience, reimagining passport verification as a digital, offsite self-service instead of an airport bottleneck. As a result of the airline’s new partnership withAirside, international travellers with a US or Canadian passport will now be able to securely verify their passport at home for free, skipping the airport check-in desk.
Passengers will be able to do this days or even weeks before their flight through the Airside app. Notably, the app can verify and store passengers’ passports, temporarily sharing it with the airline for that specific flight. The result is passengers only need enrol once, further contributing to its efficiency.
Self-service tools are central in enhancing convenience, elevating the airport experience, and delivering a more personalised service for passengers. This is the latest show in Alaska Airlines’ innovative approach to leveraging the power of mobile tech.
Travel disruption is predicted to last for days after more than a quarter of UK flights were cancelled on Monday.
Yesterday, a “technical issue” with the UK’s air traffic control system occurred and although the problem was resolved the same day by 3:15pm BST, it has continued to cause widespread disruption. The scale of disarray was amplified by the August bank holiday, where approximately one million passengers were scheduled to fly on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
So far, an estimated 1,200 flights to and from the UK were cancelled as a result of the National Air Traffic Services’ (Nats) failure, affecting around 250,000 people. Today alone, British Airways had to ground more than 60 flights, while easyJet was forced to ground over 80 flights.
Despite the fault lying with air traffic control, the industry’s response has caused discontent. The Times reported that passengers who were “abandoned in airport departure lounges last night, complained at being unable to find help on the ground, facing closed call centres and airline apps that keep crashing.”
One passenger stranded in Palma, told The Times:
“We were really surprised at the lack of communication throughout, [from the airline] you had to go onto the app yourself, they didn’t notify you at all. We’d been thinking perhaps if you were a bit older or not particularly tech savvy, you really would have struggled. You could have travelled to the airport and it would have been very very difficult.”
Disruption is to some degree inevitable. However, the way airlines and airports are able to respond to this can make all the difference to passengers. Effective communication and assistance are crucial to minimising the inconvenience and distress travellers must endure.
It is therefore crucial the industry’s ability to manage disruptions is not overlooked as it concentrates on prevention. This incident raises questions around the role of tech in facilitating communication with passengers and highlights the necessity of ensuring a smoother experience for passengers when navigating unexpected events.
At World Aviation Festival in September, the IROPS summit sessions will look at customer recovery as well as prediction and prevention. Here, the importance of prioritising communication with passengers and the human aspect of disruption is explored whilst also touching on the applications of technology. To hear from speakers from airlines including AirAsia, TAP Air Portugal, and United get your ticket now.
Airlines and airports want to simplify and automate processes as much as possible to deliver superior passenger experiences by improving operational performance, as well as have smarter usage of data to maximise existing cost structures and generate new and more valuable revenue streams. All that together will lead to higher customer satisfaction and retention, that will generate more income and maximise usage of precious existing staff and infrastructure.
Why biometrics are gaining ground
Travellers are increasingly demanding a seamless journey experience, enabled by contactless and easy-to-use technologies, which put their safety and data privacy at the forefront. Airlines and airports are determined to simplify and automate processes as much as possible to be able to build sustainable and long-term growth.
Biometrics are unique personal identifiers, which can be used to verify, identify and automate bureaucratic processes. Therefore, facial recognition provides greater security and efficiency in an airport environment where passengers are normally required to show government-issued photo identification and boarding pass. This applies all the way from check-in to boarding – and can be extended to the ultimate destination and afterwards.
How are biometrics transforming the ecosystem?
The IATA (International Air Transport Association) Annual Review 2023 mentions that the “Digital identification IATA’s One ID will allow passengers to streamline their journey with advance information sharing and a contactless process at the airport based on biometric recognition”. In turn, “airlines can offer a seamless experience across different channels and touchpoints”.
Travellers can move from the check-in to the gate using a single biometric travel token, that can provide their information direct to governments without airports and airlines acting as intermediaries.
There are tangible benefits of the technology for stakeholders in the airport ecosystem. Boarding an aircraft using biometrics through a seamless journey increases efficiency, and Vision-Box observed that biometric technology is capable of boarding 480 people in 20 minutes – about half the normal boarding time.
Putting the focus on the passenger
The key elements of seamless travel experiences are the passengers themselves and their motivation is to have a smooth and stress-free experience – the airport can be an incredibly stressful environment. Integrating external services and leveraging biometric tokens enable the personalisation of each journey, enhancing security, convenience, and overall travel efficiency. Embracing these advancements in technology helps opening the path to a future where travel becomes an effortless and memorable experience for every passenger.
A critical aspect of achieving this seamless experience lies in personalisation. Each traveller’s journey can be tailored to meet their specific needs and preferences. The use of a single biometric token plays a significant role in digitising the entire experience, enabling more efficient, seamless, and personalised processes.
Getting the most out of the journey
A traveller-centric focus is the first prerequisite to get the most out of an investment in biometric technologies. Reducing both stress and friction, by simplifying the steps that passengers require to get through the airport, should be the primary goal.
The speed and accuracy of data capture and recognition are also critical to effective biometric operations. Using a system with real-time recognition help to keep the transaction time at each touchpoint to a minimum. Both hardware and software infrastructures also need to be easy for airport/airline staff to use and integrate with their existing systems.
Going further, a biometric layer that integrates smoothly with existing infrastructures at the airport contribute to the return on investment by aviation stakeholders, and a reduction in the total cost of ownership. At Vision-Box, we are strongly committed to helping airlines and airports to get into the digital travel world and create seamless travel experiences, so they can grow and scale their own businesses organically. In this light, using biometric technologies to deliver seamless travel journey is the future-proof solution that will highly leverage competitive advantage.
Article by Alessandro Minucci, Chief Product Officer at Vision-Box
As a legacy-ready ecosystem, Vision-Box’s Seamless Journey Platform enables the airport to shift towards contactless travel, permitting a controlled upgrade path from non-automated and non-biometric boarding pass-based workflows, towards a full automated biometric-enabled journey.