The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments and industry to work together to make the best use of modern technology to put the passenger at the centre of the journey and to achieve greater efficiency from infrastructure.
The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac made the call in his opening address at the IATA Global Airport and Passenger Symposium (GAPS) in Warsaw, Poland.
He stated that to improve the passenger experience, technology options should focus on what the passenger wants.
The 2019 IATA Global Passenger Survey, he said noted strong preferences by travelers for technology to enable them to track their baggage in real time and to expedite their journey through the various airport processes.
The industry, he pointed out has solutions for both these passenger expectations—the One ID initiative and RFID for baggage tracking, adding that both need the support of stakeholders, including governments.
De Juniac, said IATA’s One ID initiative is helping the industry to transit towards a day when passengers can move from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token such as a face, fingerprint or iris scan.
According to him, “Biometric technology has the power to transform the passenger experience. Airlines are strongly behind the One ID initiative. The priority now is ensuring there is regulation in place to support the vision of a paperless travel experience that will also ensure that their data is well protected.”
On baggage, the IATA boss stated that airlines and airports were working together to implement tracking at key journey points, such as loading onto and off-of aircraft (Resolution 753), adding that in June, airlines committed to the global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for baggage tracking.
“Implementation of RFID has seen some good progress, especially in China where the technology has been thoroughly embraced. In Europe several airlines and airports are successfully working together to introduce RFID, notably Air France at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Industry needs to be reminded that in addition to meeting our customers’ expectations, implementation of RFID will help reduce the USD2.4 billion cost to airlines from mishandled bags,” said de Juniac.
On infrastructure, De Juniac stated that it would also play a key role in meeting customer expectations, stressing that developing infrastructure that can cope with future demand, without relying on ever-bigger airports, is essential.
He said that in cooperation with Airports Council International (ACI), the New Experience Travel Technologies (NEXTT) initiative explores important changes in technology and processes to improve operational efficiency and the customer experience.
He said that among its 11 work streams, NEXTT was examining several options, including the potential to: increase off-site processing, which could reduce or even eliminate queues, use artificial intelligence and robotics to more efficiently use space and resources and improve data sharing among stakeholders to enhance efficiency.
“Accommodating growth by building bigger and bigger airports will be challenging from a public policy perspective. NEXTT provides a major opportunity to focus on using the latest industry technology standards for a sustainable future. We look forward to seeing Poland take a leadership role in delivering the NEXTT vision with the construction of Warsaw’s new airport- Solidarity Transport Hub. It’s the European Union’s first greenfield airport in over a decade,” said de Juniac.
The Chief Executive Officer of LOT Polish Airlines, Rafał Milczarski, who also spoke at the event, reinforced the need for industry transformation using new technologies to ensure a sustainable future for aviation and how Warsaw’s new airport would support this vision.
According to Milczarski,“As Poland’s flag carrier and the leading airline in Central and Eastern Europe(CEE), we believe that European aviation needs significant transformation and we opt for industry that is fair for all. For airlines to remain competitive and sustainable and to respond to growing passenger demand, it is crucial to implement solutions which will be based on cutting-edge technologies.”
He continued, “Poland and LOT will play an important role in shaping the future of the aviation industry in Central and Eastern Europe thanks to investment in the future hub – CPK (Solidarity Transport Hub). The multimodal project is addressing both the industry’s challenges and passengers’ needs by setting new standards in safety control, carbon reduction by use of SAF and artificial intelligence to manage airport operations, while ensuring shorter MCT and a seamless journey. The opportunity to build a hub airport from scratch with the participation of IATA, global leaders and industry experts will help us to be light years ahead compared to where we are now.”