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Airport Investment in IT Set to Take Off

Over 60 per cent of airport IT

executives   expect   increased   budgets   to   boost   their   IT   and

telecommunications investment from the current average of 4 per cent of

airport revenues. This is according to the results of the first Airport IT

Trends Survey - conducted by Airports Council International (ACI), SITA and


Airline Business magazine.  Overall,  airports worldwide are estimated to

invest approximately US$2 billion in IT and telecommunications each year.

Robert J.  Aaronson,  Director General, ACI commented: “IT is a strategic

issue   central to airports worldwide and with this survey we have

established a set of benchmarks to track the key trends. Not only will IT

be crucial to bolstering security in the years to come but it must also

further reduce costs across the airport and, perhaps most essentially,

provide passengers with a seamless journey.”

IT infrastructure projects were rated the top investment priority, closely

followed by security related solutions, passenger and baggage processing as

well   as   the integration of current systems,  with improvements in

operational efficiency ranked the lowest priority. The Airport IT Trends

Survey shows that over 80 per cent of airports have already implemented

Internet Protocol (IP) systems and this is expected to rise to 93 per cent

by 2006.  In addition, while just 13 per cent have a Voice Over IP (VoIP)

system already implemented, another 60 per cent plan to introduce it in the

next two years.


When asked about the major obstacles to overcome when implementing their IT

strategies,  airport executives stated a lack of budget, the lack of an

agreed airport wide IT strategy,  security issues and a lack of Board

support as the top issues.


Peter Buecking,  President, SITA added: “Smart investment in IT is crucial

to a speedy and sustainable recovery of the aviation business globally. An

integrated IT infrastructure will improve airport flexibility so that

changing passenger volumes can be accommodated by opening new kiosks or

gates at a moments notice. Improving passenger, baggage and networking IT

systems is vital to ensuring the highest levels of safety, security and

operational efficiency.”




Passengers will benefit from the introduction of wireless and web services,

as over 96 per cent of airports surveyed plan to implement these services

by 2006 (wireless access expected to grow by 54 per cent, and web services

for passengers expected to grow by 52 per cent). In the next two years 40

per cent of airports also expected to trial e-commerce facilities for

tenants and mobile-commerce payment services.


Common-use self-service (CUSS)  kiosks shared by multiple airlines while

allowing individually branded services, are also expected to proliferate:

over 50 per cent of airports in the survey said they intended to deploy

these CUSS kiosks in the next two years.


Biometric Security Trends

Around   25   per   cent   of   airports surveyed already use biometric

identification for employees, and by 2006 this group grows to over 50 per

cent.  Only 4 per cent planned to introduce biometric identification for

passengers in the next year, but another 20 per cent plan to implement the

technology within the next two years. The biometric technologies used for

employee trials were fingerprint (67 per cent), hand geometry (17 per cent)

and facial recognition (8 per cent). Biometric technologies to be used for

passenger trials included: fingerprinting (24 per cent), iris scanning (24

per cent) and facial recognition (6 per cent).


The survey also showed that 8 per cent of responding airports currently

offer radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking for passenger baggage,

but that plans are in place for this to grow to around a quarter of

airports in the next two years. A few plans are in place to expand RFID

systems across cargo services in the next four years.


The Airport IT Trends Survey was conducted by NSM research in the last

quarter of 2003 and first quarter of 2004. 48 responses were received from

the Top 200 airport groups, representing 50 per cent of industry revenues.

Commissioned by Airports Council International (ACI), Airline Business and

SITA,  the survey covers strategic management issues,  outsourcing and

security.  A detailed report and listing of the aggregate data is available

to purchase on CD-Rom and provided free to responding airports.