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Monday, February 11, 2013

Report: Air Transport Services Digital Overhaul Coming in 2015

Woodrow Bellamy III

By 2015, the way airlines, airports and customers interact and exchange information will be modernized by IT innovations, according to a report released by European air transportation communications specialist SITA.

Based on SITA’s recent surveys of airlines, airports and passengers worldwide, by 2015 airlines and airports expect the Web and mobile phones to be the top two sales channels used to purchase airline tickets. Additionally 90 percent of airlines will offer mobile check-ins and provide flight updates using smart phone apps and more than 80 percent of airports and airlines will invest in business intelligence solutions (BI) aimed at improving customer service.

“We are seeing more than a 100 percent increase year-over-year in booking flights and ancillary revenue purchases via our mobile apps,” said Phil Easter, director of mobile apps for American Airlines.

According to the report, self-service, aided by smart phones, will continue to increase for air travelers as well. Near-field communication (NFC) chips is a technology being developed and improved to be embedded in smart phones so that passengers can check-in or board their flights with their flight information stored in the chips. Japan Airlines currently has an Android app that it hopes will soon allow passengers to tap to pass through boarding gates at airports equipped with NFC readers.

SITA said passengers expressed some concern with the privacy issues related to the modernization of the travel experience being offered by airlines and airports, with 55 percent of passengers surveyed refusing to sharing personal data.

However, with the International Air Transport Association predicting that airlines will carry about 3.6 billion passengers in 2016 — an increase of 800 million from 2011 — airlines and airports are looking to collaboratively use technology to ensure that they can handle the predicted increase in capacity in a cost-effective way.

“The outlook for collaboration and data sharing over the next three years is positive,” SITA said in the report. “The challenge for airlines and airports is to break down the barriers to sharing and collaboration. Furthermore, to access better information about their customers they will need to work harder to convince them of the benefits.” More

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