• AirportResource Manager allows the airport to optimize deployment of 300-plus employees in real-time

Dortmund | November 15, 2016– Dortmund Airport is set to introduce a new operations solution from global IT provider SITA that will allow the airport to optimize the deployment of its 300-plus workforce, ensuring that employees are always in the right place at the right time.

Using SITA’s AirportResource Manager, the airport operator will streamline its operation through intelligent and proactive decision-making, leveraging tools for planning, staff rostering, real-time scheduling and management as well as reporting. Overall this will deliver more accurate and flexible long-term and real-time workforce planning.

The technology also allows employees out in the field to access and update information using mobile devices as well as update in real time the statuses of their tasks. This will ultimately save costs and improve productivity across the airport operation.

Udo Mager, CEO of Dortmund Airport, said “Airports are extremely dynamic environments and having the ability to have the right person in the right place is crucial to a smooth, friction-free operation, benefiting both our employees and passengers. SITA’s technology provides us with a clear picture of which tasks are assigned to which staff member and therefore management can quickly make decisions and respond to developments in the airport as they occur.”

Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe said: “Technology is central to cost-effective and efficient airport operations while helping to improve the overall passenger experience. This is clearly illustrated by the deployment of AirportResource Manager at Dortmund Airport which will streamline the workforce planning function, allowing the airport to maximize their resources through smart, real-time planning, saving costs, improving efficiency and enhancing the airport journey for passengers.”

Dortmund Airport has long turned to SITA to provide its technology needs. Over the past decade SITA has supported the regional airport with several technology solutions, including Common Use Terminal Equipment and Common Use Passenger Processing Systems used across the airport.

  • Frost & Sullivan awards SITA ‘2016 APAC Airport IT Solutions Company of the Year’

Singapore | October 13, 2016– Frost & Sullivan today recognized SITA as the Airport IT Solutions Company of the year in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region for the third time in seven years. The award highlights SITA’s leading role in the air transport industry across APAC, where it provides solutions to 70% of the region’s top 20 airports.

Frost & Sullivan was particularly impressed by the technology SITA has developed to provide a smooth end-to-end passenger journey through the airport. The four key elements highlighted were SITA Smart Path™, which uses biometrics to give passengers a walkthrough experience from check-in to the aircraft door; self-service technology, including kiosks, bagdrop and boarding gates; hybrid check-in/bagdrop desks, that can be used by agents and passengers alike and SITA’s Day of Travel app, that gives passengers the right information at the right time, wherever they are.

A key highlight was SITA’s airport operational expertise. Real time and predictive data is needed by airports to better anticipate, plan and control operations. SITA’s Day of Operations, and its Airport Management solution which is used at more than 150 airports in 48 countries, enable airlines to assign assets and resources more effectively and balance operational efficiency with business results.

Anston Tan Yong An, Industry Analyst Best Practices, Frost & Sullivan, said: “SITA sits right at the heart of the air transport industry. It stands out among its peers in its ability to deliver world-class technology solutions to the airport sector globally and across the Asia Pacific region.

“SITA’s product portfolio is supported by a management that understands aviation and is consistently able to deliver to their customer’s requirements and expectations. It has helped more than 1,000 airports globally operate more effectively while improving the overall passenger experience. And it can always be counted on to deliver unmatched service.”

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “APAC is a fascinating region for the air transport industry. We provide our solutions in the fastest-growing and largest airports in the world, and we tailor our offering to some of the smallest as well. This award from Frost & Sullivan is yet another accolade for our SITA team members throughout the region, who maintain a relentless focus on innovation and service excellence.”

Seoul, Korea | July 14, 2016– Asiana IDT, the IT service provider and affiliate of the Kumho Asiana Group based in Korea, today announced a partnership agreement with global travel technology provider SITA. Together the partners will deliver world-class solutions and customer services to airlines and airports in Korea and across Asia.

SITA is the world’s leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology. This strategic partnership will see its extensive portfolio of solutions for passenger management, cargo, government, and communications and infrastructure services provided to Asiana IDT’s airline and airport customers. SITA’s technology solutions will be fully backed by the extensive regional expertise of Asiana IDT.

As part of the agreement all customers will also benefit from SITA Global Services. This 24/7 customer services organization is unique in the air transport industry having a single global team of 2,000 people spread across the world and available ‘on the ground’ for SITA customers.

Han Chang Soo, President and CEO of Asiana IDT, said: “This new partnership with SITA will allow us to provide our airline and airport customers with the perfect blend of Asiana IDT’s regional expertise and SITA’s renowned global solutions and delivery of world-class customer service. This is the ideal combination for Korea’s air transport industry which is looking to expand its international business and to operate on a global level.”

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “South Korea has a clear focus on developing its tourism industry so it is appropriate that SITA has partnered with Asiana IDT during the 2016-2018 Visit Korea Year program. Together we can support the airlines and airports of Korea to use world-class technology to transform the passenger experience and innovate for the future of the Korean air transport industry.”

Asiana IDT’s parent company, Kumho Asiana Group is one of the largest conglomerates in the Republic of Korea, with affiliated companies and subsidiaries in aviation, construction, transport, logistics, manufacturing, civil engineering, finance and leisure sectors. Subsidiaries in the aviation industry include Asiana Airlines, Air Busan, Asiana Airport and the new low cost carrier Air Seoul, which is due to begin operations over the coming months.

  • SITA’s shared infrastructure AirportHub™ now available at 300 airports worldwide

2016 Air Transport IT Summit, Barcelona, Spain | May 26, 2016– SITA, the air transport industry communications provider, today announced that 300 airports in more than 100 countries across the world, are now equipped with SITA AirportHub™. This unique shared infrastructure allows airlines to connect all their applications and IT systems at an airport quickly and easily. It removes the complexity of dealing with local telecom providers and adds flexibility and agility to route management.

Airports are the center of the industry’s communications and are becoming ever more connected. By 2030, 18,000 airline communication connections will be needed at the world’s airports. The number and size of airports is also rising; 500 new airports – a 30% increase over today – and a 40% capacity growth in existing airports. The challenge the industry faces with this expansion is have reliable, secure, high performance communications – consistently across the world’s airports – for airlines, ground handlers, maintenance companies, other airport tenants and the airports themselves.

SITA AirportHub is an airport-wide shared connectivity platform that ensures airports can provide their airlines, ground handlers and other tenants with secure and reliable bandwidth, including wireless connectivity to access off-airport applications. Today, it is at 300 airports and provides 3,000 connections across the world.

Matthew Billings, Chair of Membership Committee, SITA and VP Technology Services at Virgin Atlantic, speaking at the Air Transport IT Summit being held in Barcelona, said: “SITA’s investment in the AirportHub infrastructure over the last number of years is of huge benefit to the entire air transport community. Now airlines can use AirportHub at 300 airports across the world – from Beijing to here in Barcelona.

“SITA AirportHub makes opening new routes much quicker and easier. When airlines are connecting their systems at an airport they can now do so within a matter of weeks not months. This streamlined approach is efficient and cost-effective. Many airlines are keen to work with their airport partners who don’t already have SITA AirportHub in place to consider its adoption.”

Dan Ebbinghaus, Senior Vice President, Communications and Infrastructure Solutions, SITA, said: “All airlines need high levels of connectivity on demand. Wherever they fly, and whether they are low cost, hybrid or flag carriers, the need is the same. As our airline members have experienced, SITA AirportHub provides this securely and efficiently.

“The rollout of AirportHub across the world’s airports is multi-year investment by SITA on behalf of the airline and airport community. Our plan over the next three years is to have AirportHub at 700 sites reaching 80% of airlines’ international destination airports. This will dramatically expand our coverage transforming the communications infrastructure at the world’s airports.”

SITA AirportHub helps to reduce the total cost of ownership through secure shared infrastructure and global community solutions. It makes connections between all stakeholders at the airport – airlines, governments, ground handlers, commercial operators and other partners – efficient and cost-effective. In addition to cost savings through shared, short lead time to connect and common-use infrastructure, there are vast savings in the time and effort of sourcing from local telecom companies, managing multiple suppliers and having to cope with long lead times.

The 300 airports already taking advantage of SITA AirportHub are located in more than 100 countries. These range from remote and regional destinations serving less than a million passengers to the largest international hubs of the world which together manage hundreds of millions passengers every year.


We continue this week with some interesting people and products we saw during AIX in Hamburg at Astronics and Rockwell Collins.


Astronics:

When you were at AIX you surely would have seen the latest ‘lightweight’ inseat power system from the folks at Astronics. What really caught our attention was the weight of the ‘Direct Current Power Supply’ itself – but we will save that data for the Astronics spokesperson, Ken Adwan, Senior Business Development Manager, who told IFExpress: “The DCPS is actually capable of supporting (30) USB outputs operating at 2.1 Amp simultaneously. The zone-based DCPS, which provides DC power to the seats weighs in at 3.8 lb. (nominal). The result is that a typical narrow body system, providing (175) total High Output USB Power ports to the passenger seats will have a shipset weight and price that are 30% to 40% lower than a traditional seat-based power supply architecture. That system would be comprised of a total of (8) zone-based DCPS units.” (Be sure to check out the high level system graphic for the USB UltraLite system and data sheet for the P/N 1375-2 DC Power Supply Unit (DCPS).) What really caught IFExpress’s attention was the statement on the data sheet: “Power conversion efficiency greater that 85%,”…and that has to be some kind of record for an airborne AC to DC converter. Typically they run about 80% or less!

Rockwell Collins:

“Hi there, I’m Jeff Sare” was our first introduction to the new Vice President, Sales & Marketing Air Transport Cabin Solutions Commercial Systems at the Rockwell Collins booth. IFExpress was told: “We were really impressed with Jeff when he was a consultant to Rockwell Collins and we brought him on board to help out the IFEC efforts. Jeff brings a wealth of industry knowledge about in-flight entertainment and connectivity solutions, an area of growing interest for airlines to keep up with fast-changing passenger requirements,” said Scott Gunnufson, Vice President, Commercial Sales, Marketing and Support at Rockwell Collins. Further, from the Rockwell Collins news release about Jeff; “For more than two decades, Sare has served in a number of leadership roles in the air transport in-flight entertainment (IFE) and connectivity marketplace, from IFE manufacturers and connectivity providers to airline marketing. In his new role, Sare will lead a sales and marketing team focused on Rockwell Collins’ complete portfolio of PAVES IFE and connectivity solutions that meet the passenger engagement needs of any airline, including seat-centric IFE, broadcast and wireless IFE, high-speed broadband connectivity, moving map and passenger services systems,” stated the company. We note, Jeff is a very pleasant, easy to talk to person and we encourage folks in our industry to say hello.

During the interview, we asked where the IFE industry is heading and Jeff indicated the following: “IFE seems to have stabilized. We are seeing appropriate and significant growth in both wide and narrow body aircraft markets. At the same time, IFE Wi-Fi growth is also explosive. The demand for connectivity and some control over your environment is on fire. There is a demand for end-to-end connection to the passenger. Further, new technology opens up new opportunities. B-2-B is driving innovations that help airlines manage their business. Our customers are the airlines… full stop!

“Rockwell Collins’ inseat video has gone into service line fit at both OEMs. In-seat availability is running near 100%. In fact, Biman Bangladesh launched in late November 2015 and they are flying at 99.98% – the .02% was a pinched wire,” said Sare.

We also asked about IFE in the aviation ecosystem and Mr. Sare went on: “There are two business case studies worth mentioning: What Apple did was to build an entire ecosystem that explained their vision for the iPhone and what it could do – think apps here,” he noted. “Further, Tesla is doing the same in the automotive industry.” The company sees that solution, and Jeff implied that Rockwell Collins will take advantage of their IFE solution, and with their acquisition of ARINC, will leverage the aviation communication platform. He went on to say: “There are fourteen thousand commercial aircraft, some five thousand business jets, one thousand airports and some three hundred and sixty airlines in this environment… Rockwell Collins sits in the middle of this aviation ecosystem.” We get it!

We should also note that Rockwell Collins was awarded an Airbus supplier trophy for “Cabin BFE Supplier Support in 2015” at Aircraft Interiors and the team was rightfully proud of their efforts in winning. The awards followed Airbus’s supplier support rating process, which drew in-service feedback from more than 133 of Airbus customers worldwide.” The news release also said, ‘Rockwell Collins, which was also top ranked in the category last year by Airbus customers, was credited for its ability to continuously provide reliable equipment and complementary technical support, its effectiveness of operational support services and finally, customer feedback on cost of ownership.”

If you didn’t get the big picture, one of the big Rockwell Collins focuses is on data. They note: “By 2030, the number of active air transport and business aircraft is expected to grow to 85,000 (Editor’s Note: Given that today there are around 30,000) – with 80 percent of those equipped with new information-management systems. These developments are making a seamless secure and integrated aviation ecosphere a reality.” Aviation and information, two pre-separated words, now have a reality that Rockwell Collins see’s as a future reality. The flow of data along with the future is where Rockwell Collins is placing their bets. Here is a list of future information solutions they see:

1. Intuitive, information-enabled flight decks and aircraft that use data from on-board and external sources to provide new levels of analysis and awareness for pilots, airlines and manufacturers
2. Cabin solutions that change the paradigm from passenger entertainment to passenger engagement while helping airlines achieve their goals
3. Airport operations that streamline passenger processing, increase efficiencies and enhance revenue
4. A robust and flexible network that pairs bandwidth to manage information across the aviation ecosphere with the necessary security to keep our passengers and our airspace safe.
5. A future airspace that leverages the flow of shared information to address the congestion of today with a new model of aircraft and airspace management.

So, if information is the future of aviation data, then they expect massive amounts to infect our aviation space – Massive Amounts! This includes maintenance, scheduling, freight, airplane performance, and much more in networks on and off the aircraft. Rockwell Collins has four Principles when it comes to handling all this data:

Principle 1. Match the Right Data With the Channel.
Principle 2. Interoperability Matters.
Principle 3. Make the Best Use of Data.
Principle 4. Peace of Mind is Paramount.

We also wish to point out the paramount importance of security, and when this subject is addressed by Rockwell Collins, they say: “As systems become increasingly interconnected, interdependent cyber security has become a growing concern in civil aviation. Network security threats are diverse and persistent; a large part of the data that traverses private aviation networks is sensitive and relates to passengers’ reservations.”

They go on: “In this environment, security is essential Today, private aviation networks like those from Rockwell Collins are outfitted with multiple firewalls and security mechanisms to ensure that the security of critical communications is airtight, and that policies and protections align with IATA security rules and mandates. As we explore new channels of communication to meet the needs of the information age, we must ensure that they can support those same levels of security at every moment of transmission.” We couldn’t agree more.

Further they state: “But peace of mind goes beyond ensuring messages are protected at every point of transmission – it’s also about ensuring the information arrives at its intended destination in a timely manner. Even as our industry embraces new technology like ACARS over IP and standardized, web-based applications like XML Web Services, we believe the curation of message delivery is a critical component of information management – knowing exactly where a message is at any given moment, and if something goes wrong, where that error occurred and what backups are available to ensure the message arrives at its destination.”

In conclusion, Rockwell Collins notes: “In aviation’s information age, an ever-increasing volume of data streams across the sky and around the earth. Developing faster ways to transmit, store, process and access that information – leveraging the latest ground- and satellite-based communications technologies – will be necessary to ensure our industry can take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.” Stay Tuned In on this one as aviation data will be taking a big uptick of storage and connectivity in the future… for almost every reason!


Other News:

  • If you have not been following TMF Associates Blog, you might start here: TMF Associates blog » The exploding inflight connectivity market?
  • You might want to watch “The Age of Aerospace,” a multi-piece aviation documentary sponsored by Boeing… now on YouTube
  • If you are planning on attending EXPO Asia and APEX in Singapore at the end of October, be sure to check out the ‘View Location Map‘… and bring your credit card because the Ferrari dealership is a short walk away!
  • If you are in charge of airline food, you probably want to see what foods are trending in favor and declining. Here is a good source of info: Google Food Trends Report. And yes, it might be true in your kitchen as well!
  • We got an interesting email recently that went: Per the following link,  I have a few questions:
    1. I wonder if Airbus also invested in BOC’s aircraft leasing firm?
    2. Does an investment in BOC give Boeing an advantage when selling airplanes into China?  (Duh!)
    3. Is this the cost of doing business, i.e. selling airplanes, in China?
    In answer to the above we found the following:
    1. China will become the “single-most important market” for plane-leasing companies over the next five years, Domhnal Slattery, chief executive officer of Dublin-based lessor Avolon Holdings Ltd., said in an April Interview.
    2. Coy as ever, Cook’s somewhat cryptic remarks naturally led to an avalanche of speculation, particularly given rumors that Apple is  developing its own electric car. Other commentators took the position that Apple’s investment was simply an old-fashioned way to curry favor with the Chinese government. (Check out the full article here)
  • Agreement paves way forward to a future-proof airport

Valletta | May 11, 2016– Malta International Airport has entered into a strategic partnership with global air transport IT specialist SITA which is geared towards boosting the airport’s operational excellence and putting it at the forefront of technology in the aviation industry.

The partnership – which came into effect from May 10, 2016 – will allow Malta International Airport to focus on strategic investment and innovation as SITA takes over the airport’s day-to-day ICT operations. The partnership will help improve ICT service levels, optimize airport operations and enhance the overall passenger experience.

SITA’s experience in managing large-scale ICT transformation programs around the world will be extended to Malta International Airport, and support it in integrating ICT at the heart of its growth strategy over the long term.

Malta International Airport welcomed 4.62 million passengers in 2015 and is expected to grow by more than 2% this year. The company has also unveiled an ambitious investment program which includes a €28m terminal expansion. Work on Phase 1 of the project is scheduled to commence later on this year.

Alan Borg, CEO of Malta International Airport said: “We recognize that developing our ICT infrastructure is fundamental to our future growth. In light of this, we are delighted to be partnering with SITA, the market leader in this industry, and look forward to working together on a digital blueprint to meet our future demands.”

Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe said: “As a global supplier of end-to-end solutions to the broader air transport industry, we are in the unique position of being able to support the full gamut of airport, airline, and government systems found in airports today. This allows us to take our service to the industry a step further, by managing the end-to-end ICT infrastructure for airports while guiding their future investment to ensure cost savings and improved service delivery.”

Abu Dhabi, UAE | January 5, 2016– Abu Dhabi Airports has partnered with global IT provider SITA to introduce its latest technologies across Abu Dhabi International Airport’s (AUH’s) three terminals. The technology transformation is part of Abu Dhabi Airports’ preparations for AUH reaching a capacity of 45 million passengers by 2017.

The investment in SITA’s latest innovations will bring the airport’s entire IT infrastructure in line with the systems that SITA is already implementing in the new Midfield Terminal Building, currently under construction. These new technologies will help improve the airport’s operational efficiency while providing a seamless passenger experience across all terminals.

As part of the five-year contract, SITA will provide a range of advanced and fully integrated airport systems. One of these includes their Airport Management solution which will allow Abu Dhabi Airports to proactively manage the operation of AUH by providing real-time information from across all facilities. This will enable the operations team to plan for events before they happen, while ensuring resources are fully optimized.

Other key products from SITA include AirportConnect® Open, which enables airlines to share check-in areas, kiosks and boarding areas while still having access to their own data, and BagManager which allows bags to be tracked in real-time, providing a clear status on any bag no matter where it is in the baggage system.

In addition to these three systems, passengers will also enjoy new automated boarding gates and flight information display systems.

Eng. Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer, Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “Abu Dhabi International Airport continues to experience double-digit passenger growth and therefore we are investing in new airport facilities that will allow us to accommodate the forecast future increase in passengers. In order to achieve this we require a trusted technology partner, such as SITA, to provide one-stop, integrated IT solutions across the airport.”

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa, said: “We have long admired Abu Dhabi International Airport’s ability to meet the rapid growth it has experienced over the past few years without compromising the great service offered to passengers. We have worked alongside the team at the airport to provide the technology to manage everything from check-in and airport management systems to self-boarding gates, across the existing terminals. Abu Dhabi Airports has recognized the value we bring as an IT partner who can deliver not only improved operational efficiency, but also an enhanced passenger experience.”

Abu Dhabi International Airport currently serves over 103 destinations in 56 countries and in 2014 accommodated over 20 million passengers.

  • Strategic Agreement Enables Access to Boingo Wi-Fi Networks in 35 Major U.S. Airports

Los Angeles and Overland Park, Kanasas | April 30, 2015– Boingo Wireless, the leading DAS and Wi-Fi provider, and Sprint today announced a multi-year Wi-Fi agreement, enabling access to seamless and secure Boingo Wi-Fi networks in 35 major U.S. airports. Leveraging Boingo’s industry-leading network technology, connecting to Wi-Fi will become as easy and safe as cellular.

Sprint devices within proximity of a Boingo hotspot can automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network seamlessly, providing service at the fastest speeds available, be that cellular from Sprint or Wi-Fi from Boingo. The auto-authenticating Wi-Fi connections are available at no additional charge to all Sprint customers with capable devices, and usage while connected to Wi-Fi does not count towards a customer’s monthly service plan. Sprint and Boingo conducted successful market trials with millions of Sprint handsets, which demonstrated the consumer benefits of effortless authentication onto Boingo’s network.

“With Wi-Fi being the world’s largest wireless ecosystem, we view it as a highly complementary layer to our network,” said Stephen Bye, Sprint CTO. “By enabling customers to move seamlessly between secure Wi-Fi and cellular, our customers will have a better mobile experience in more locations, all while lowering their cost of data usage.”

The Sprint network improves daily and the company continues to invest in solutions that deliver the consistent reliability, capacity, and speed that customers demand. As service expands to additional Sprint handsets, customers with Passpoint-enabled devices can be connected to Boingo’s “Passpoint Secure” networks at airports nationwide. By utilizing Boingo’s “Passpoint Secure” networks, customers can enjoy a simpler mobile experience with seamless Wi-Fi authentication and WPA2 enterprise-grade encryption technology.

“Boingo’s relationship with Sprint removes the traditional barriers between Wi-Fi and cellular service,” said David Hagan, Chief Executive Officer for Boingo Wireless. “Sprint is a market leader with the integration of Wi-Fi and cellular, which is a very customer centric solution to provide an always-best-connected experience through either network.”

Sao Paulo, Brazil | March 5, 2015– More airline passengers in Brazil carry a smartphone than in other parts of the world. The SITA-ATW Passenger Survey reveals that 85% of passengers in Brazil carry smartphones compared to the global average of 81%. A significantly higher percentage of these passengers use apps from airlines, airports and travel agencies compared with passengers from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, making Brazil’s passengers among the most connected in the world.

SITA, which provides technology to airlines and airports around the world, conducted its research across 15 countries with nearly 6,300 participants. The results show that passengers in Brazil are using technology to enhance their journey. More than half of passengers who carry smartphones are using airline apps on a regular basis, 43% use travel agency apps and 38% use airport apps.

When it comes to booking their flights, passengers in Brazil are also picking up their smartphones and tablets faster than their counterparts in other parts of the world. Some 43% of them regularly use their smartphone to book flights, this compares to the global average of 31%. In Brazil, 42% take advantage of the larger screen and regularly use tablets to book flights. This use of mobile technology is set to continue to rise – when asked which channels they would use more for tickets and services, if all equally available, 60% of passengers said smartphone apps and 53% tablets.

Mauro Pontes, SITA Vice President, Brazil, said: “Airline passengers in Brazil are turning to technology to improve their journey. They are the pioneers across the Americas, when looking to the future we see that more of them expect (64%) to use smartphone apps for check-in compared to other countries in the region. The rate expected in Mexico is 61% while only 43% the USA.”

More than half of passengers in Brazil (55%) regularly use a smartphone app for flight information. This is higher than in other regions in both Mexico (44%) and the USA (46%). In the unfortunate case of flight disruptions, passengers in Brazil are also turning to their mobile technology to ease the experience.

Pontes added: “Airlines should take note that in the case of disruptions, such as a flight being cancelled, 64% of passengers expect to get a message via a mobile app, while 58% expect a call to their mobiles and 54% an email. This demonstrates the opportunity for airlines to leverage technology to support communications during these challenging periods.”

  • 100% of airports in China investing in social media and mobile services to improve passenger experience

Shanghai | November 6, 2014– Airports in China are focusing their IT investments on improving the passenger experience and introducing new self-service options including bag-tag printing, self-boarding and self-bagdrop. This increased attention to the customer experience has also seen the airports embrace new media with 100% of them investing in passenger services via social media and mobiles by 2017.

This is according to the SITA/ACI Airport IT Trends Survey which was announced today. The research results represent the views of the top 20 airports in China which serve more than 60% of all Chinese airline passengers.

May Zhou, Vice President, SITA China said: “The extensive airport expansion and passenger growth, currently being experienced in China, are major challenges. Airports however are stepping up to these challenges and investing in IT to improve the passenger experience. There is now a real focus to improve the customer experience. We see airports investing in passenger services, and 100% of them are investing in social media and mobile services to provide an efficient and personalized journey.”

The survey shows that the massive growth in passenger numbers in China – up 9.7% in 2013 to 745 million – is leading to further investments in self-service to help improve performance and speed of passenger handling throughout the airports. More than half (53%) of airports consider passenger processing as the most important priority for IT investment. In total, 65% of airports in China are investing in major self-service programs and a further 29% are running pilots.

Investments in common-use self-service kiosks continue, with 35% planning to use them for check-in, while 35% plan to install them for other uses. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of China’s airports are implementing bag-tag printing. Another area of significant development is self-boarding, which 35% of airports have implemented, up from 8% in 2013.

Behind the airports’ investment into new media is a strong desire to develop more personalized customer service through direct interaction, and China’s airports are succeeding here. More than half (53%) rate their social media investments as performing well, or above expectations, for customer loyalty. In particular, airports are using mobile and social media to communicate with passengers in times of disruption. By the end of 2017, 94% of airports in China will have implemented real-time notification via social media and mobile.

Some 85% of Chinese airports surveyed said their total IT expenditures would either increase or stay the same in 2014. Much of this spend will be on infrastructure to support airport development in anticipation of future passenger growth. More than half (54%) are investing in IT for airport terminal expansions, 50% for new terminals and 44% for refurbishments.

  • More than 2,100 travelers share expectations and experiences – calling out mobile, self-service and personalized travel information as critical to their satisfaction

San Jose and Boston, USA | September 23, 2013– Airports and airlines are clearly focused on improving the travel experience. But are the investments they’re making having the desired impact? Based on new research reports — for both airlines and airports — of 2,160 travelers just released from FlightView, the day-of-travel information company, the answer is a resounding “no.”

“Improving technology and infrastructure are massive undertakings for any airport or airline, but as we move further into an era of mobile and self-service dominance, these capabilities will become especially vital from both the travelers’ and providers’ perspective”
“WiFi is and has been the highest priority for travelers, yet satisfaction levels have remained largely the same — with approval for airport WiFi actually decreasing by 4 percent, and improving for in-flight WiFi by a little more than 1 percent, since this time last year,” said Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView. “With more travelers using smartphones at the airport, and 82 percent using them in-flight – improving WiFi is absolutely critical to improving the overall travel experience.”

Talking Holograms, Sleeping Pods and Massage Stations Cool… but Lack Broad Appeal

Despite all of the hype, only 8 percent of those surveyed find value in virtual assistant holograms – which cost airports ~$20 to $30 thousand each. Fewer than 16 percent care about massage stations, and only 30 percent are interested in sleeping pods.

“Meeting customer expectations requires asking before implementing,” said Benjamin. “In this case, some airports have spent upwards of $100 thousand on innovative extras that travelers could take or leave, when what they really want are services that support their connected lifestyles.”

Case in point: When asked which amenities travelers would like to see airports and airlines provide, the responses were nothing revolutionary: 87 percent want more charging stations for electronics at the airport, and nearly 75 percent would value tray tables with electronic hookups and charging capabilities from airlines.

Mobile Functionality and Highly-Personalized, Relevant Information Tops Travelers’ Priority Lists

In order to strike the right balance between innovation and practicality, airlines and airports should focus investments on what travelers crave most: mobile self-service and personalized, actionable travel information.

Among the travelers surveyed, the desire for improved mobile functionality was strong:

  • 84% of travelers want mobile access to personalized flight information like boarding times and the status of their connecting flight
  • 76% want the ability to view security line wait times
  • 59% want the capability to track missing luggage
  • 50% want mobile access to their position on the standby list
  • 45% want the ability to manage and share travel itineraries

Destination-centric information was also paramount — nearly 90 percent of travelers want airlines to push the gate and status of their connecting flight to their mobile device, while more than 60 percent want terminal maps, and 53 percent would value weather forecasts.

Of note to airports, the demand for more personalized, relevant information extends beyond mobile and into the terminals:

  • More than 86 percent of respondents want terminal displays with departure information for nearby major airport hubs where there are frequent connections.
  • Nearly 90 percent of travelers value interactive terminal maps on kiosks that show their current location and provide detailed information on items like nearby restaurants, walking times and directions to terminals.

Adoption Rises for Self-Service Technology

While the initial rollout was slow, mobile boarding adoption is starting to take off. In 2013, more than 60 percent of travelers had the opportunity to board with a mobile boarding pass – a 10 percent increase over 2012. Of those travelers that were presented the option, 70 percent took advantage of it, up 11 percent over last year. The adoption is even higher among business travelers: three out of every four use mobile boarding when given the chance.

More modern methods for flight check-in are also catching on, over the past 12 months:

  • 69% of travelers have checked-in for flights using a mobile device
  • 65% have checked in via personal computer
  • 57% have checked in using the airline kiosks

Despite these more convenient self-service options, more than a third of travelers still go to the airline customer service desk to check-in for flights.

“Improving technology and infrastructure are massive undertakings for any airport or airline, but as we move further into an era of mobile and self-service dominance, these capabilities will become especially vital from both the travelers’ and providers’ perspective,” said Benjamin.

To access the full findings from all 2,160 respondents, stop by FlightView’s booth #926 at ACI-NA or download the 2013 reports for airlines and airports.

FlightView’s research features the responses from 2,160 travelers. The survey was pushed to users of FlightView’s Android and iPhone flight-tracking app, and launched and completed in September in 2013.