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
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.