While aviation remains under extreme pressure amid the global pandemic, what weʼre seeing now is a confirmed recovery phase, according to David Lavorel, CEO of Airports and Borders at SITA.

Speaking during a media briefing to present its 2020 Air Transport IT Insights on Tuesday 23 February, Lavorel said the lack of passenger traffic over the past 12 months had refocused spending priorities for airports. The report’s key findings show that there has been an accelerated investment in automated passenger processing solutions, with the industry focusing on touchless and mobile services in response to COVID. There is also a spotlight on virtual and remote IT services to accommodate the need to work from home and more efficient IT operations to help ramp up communications with passengers. Cybersecurity and cloud services also remain vital areas for investment.

Lavorel pointed out that 89% of airports are currently investing in automated check-in solutions, while self-bag-drop solutions continue to be a rising trend, with 79% of airlines working towards enabling this technology in airports.

As one of the newer trends brought about in response to lockdowns, virtual IT operations have seen greater investment, with 84% of airports investing in this area. Meanwhile, more than 90% of airports plan to invest in more efficient IT operations, and 87% of airports are focused on business intelligence and exploiting their data for better operational decisions.

“The COVID crisis has accelerated a number of trends that were already present. In particular, thereʼs been a strong push for automation and data-based collaboration between industry players,” said Lavorel. “And we see investments being made that are going to be important in managing the crisis and recovery period, but that will also lead to more efficient, better passenger-friendly operations.”

But is there a fear that regional airports and cash-strapped smaller airports will be left behind when it comes to the wider roll-out of automated and touchless passenger processing solutions?

“It’s a question thatʼs certainly in need of attention,” said Lavorel,  as he explained that SITA is already working on a range of solutions to cater for different sized facilities and budgets. “We’re developing a number of products that bolt-on and build on existing IT assets that airports have already invested in,” he said. SITA’s President Europe, Sergio Colella, added: “In addition to making best use of an airport’s existing infrastructure, itʼs also about leveraging the cloud architecture.”

As the industry turns its attention to new automated technologies, itʼs vital that no airport is left behind, but that new solutions deliver consistent improvements to the passenger experience no matter which airport they start or finish from!

I hope you enjoy this weekʼs newsletter and have a great weekend,

Chloë Greenbank,
Editor, Regional Gateway.

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