Airports turning to self-service

A survey of IT Trends among the world’s top 200 airport operators has found that tackling congestion and meeting security demands are the main drivers behind IT investment as 2.1 billion passengers enplaned last year and their numbers continue to grow at over 5% per annum.

The 4th Airport IT Trends Survey* carried out by SITA, the global provider of airport IT and communication services, in conjunction with Airline Business and Airports Council International (ACI), was made public today in Buenos Aires at the annual gathering of industry figures attending the ACI World conference.

The 2007 survey results show that airports are embracing new technology in order to use their existing airport capacity more efficiently. Over the next two years, airports plan to make significant changes, particularly in the area of passenger self-service and shared-use systems to meet the twin demands of phenomenal growth in passenger traffic and stricter security regulations.

John Jarrell, SITA Senior Vice President for Airport and Desktop Services, said: “Delays at security, check-in and baggage collection are all touch points which frustrate the travelling public and they are now at the top of the airport IT agenda when it comes to investing in new technologies such as self-service kiosks, remote passenger check-in, fast bag drop-off and biometrics.

“Passenger and baggage processing are the priorities for the overwhelming majority of respondents to this year’s survey when it comes to IT investment and this is mainly driven by a desire to improve customer service.


“When many people think about ‘congestion’ at airports, they often refer to passengers standing in queues at the check-in counters or security checkpoints.  These are problems that self-service technologies such as web check-in, kiosks, mobile solutions and other off-airport processing will continue to address. We expect to see vast improvements in passenger processing in the coming years as travellers continue to become more comfortable with this transformation.

Jarrell added: “Security challenges at airports need to be tackled on two fronts; physical and data security.  Airport executives are planning to invest in passenger security such as biometrics at border control, next generation of CCTVs, perimeter and parking surveillance systems, access control systems as additional layers of physical security.  Airports are also planning to improve data security by investing in disaster recovery plans, PCI compliance and other information security management concerns.

The survey finds that airports are set to invest heavily on improving airside operations to address traffic and aircraft movement congestion.. Investments in new Geographic Information Systems (GIS), ground and vehicle tracking systems, and Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) tools are on top of the airport operations IT ‘shopping list’ for the next two years.