Putting The Intelligence Into Airports - Gulf Business
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Putting The Intelligence Into Airports

Putting The Intelligence Into Airports

Technology is key to supporting air passenger growth in the region, says Hani El-Assaad, president, SITA, Middle East, India and North Africa.

Airline passenger numbers are growing rapidly. If current predictions are correct, we will reach nine billion passengers by 2025. And the Middle East is one of the fastest growing regions.

In fact, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA), from 2012 to 2013, Middle East carriers had the strongest year-over-year traffic growth globally at 15.1 per cent.

This trend is expected to continue in countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait Growing passenger numbers and a buoyant outlook are great news for the industry.

However, to proactively manage this growth, airports need to ensure they have a scalable infrastructure. They need smart IT solutions to make informed decisions, and provide end-to-end situational awareness and business intelligence for better forecasting. At the same time, they need to improve productivity and revenues, and, above all, to make the passenger journey as smooth as possible.

Today’s Intelligent Airports track, manage and share accurate, up-to-date information in real-time with all the stakeholders of an airport ecosystem, including airport operators, airlines, passengers, customs and immigration officials, groundhandlers and many others. And we are starting to see more and more airports adopt the Intelligent Airport approach.

Airlines and airports are also showing a renewed willingness to work closely together. For example, SITA’s most recent Airport IT Trends Survey showed that as many as 78 per cent of airports will have implemented, or plan to implement, an Airport Operations Control Centre by 2015. By that time, over two-thirds will also have launched Collaborative Decision Making.

Operating an airport in today’s environment is like running a small city. For example, moving assets in a timely manner and knowing the impact of decisions on service levels and the bottom line are essential.

Having greater control over operations and improving profitability is key to a successful airport. This is why a critical part of an intelligent airport is the airport management system, which gives airports the flexibility to adapt to the demands of the day, by increasing operational efficiency.

Some examples of these efficiency- boosting measures include:

✑ Tracking aircrafts to minimize delays, fuel consumption and general turn-around time.
✑ Informing the mobile workforce of potential changes and disruptions in order to react more efficiently.
✑ Tracking and tracing baggage to improve transfers even from flights that arrive late.
✑ Monitoring runways to minimize delays and prevent dangers for flight crews.

Another component of intelligent airports is what we call end-to-end Passenger Flow Monitoring. This allows airports to capture and access real-
time data at all stages of the passenger journey. For example, spending an extra ten minutes in security reduces the average passenger’s retail spend by 30 per cent.

Passenger flow monitoring can help shrink security queues and get your passengers to their gates quicker, providing more time for them to shop, eat and drink at the airport.

As Intelligent Airports harness the power of emerging innovative technologies, passengers will benefit from new levels of service convenience. This will enable them to pass through the airport more quickly, access all the latest information on the airport and their flight, and gain more control over their journey, which will help reduce stress.

One of the biggest game changers when looking at airport trends is mobile services for passengers. Mobile technology is already in the hands of passengers and can act as a bridge to airports’ and airlines’ own technology infrastructure.

This opens up many exciting possibilities, including extending self- service throughout the passengers’ journey, providing personalised information and generating new marketing-based revenue streams.

As SITA continues to innovate and invest in new technologies for the benefit of all airport stakeholders, we are seeing the day of the Intelligent Airport and the ‘ideal journey’ coming ever closer.


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