Two Digital Trends Breakout Sessions – 2019 Passenger Experience Conference

In last week’s issue of IFExpress we reviewed the opening session from the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) held in Hamburg, Germany earlier this month. This week, we will focus on the conference’s Digital: The New Reality Breakout Sessions. We found these panel discussions to be informative and pertinent to the current trends in our industry.

From an important perspective, The Digital: The New Reality stream looked at how digital tools are surpassing the current mobile apps and will eventually be integrated across the entire journey, creating a seamless digital user space.

The keynote address for this stream was Practical applications of digital in the passenger experience. The cabin is a 3-dimensional object but the 4th dimension is time, and was presented by Anaïs Marzo da Costa, Head of Aircraft Interiors Marketing, Airbus. Anaïs discussed the current digital trends that Airbus has been looking at.  She said that Airbus has been working at connecting the airplane and they are now focusing on trying to connect the cabin. She stated that studies indicated there were 3 billion smartphone users in 2018 and that number is estimated to double to 6.1 billion by 2020.  Anaïs continued by stating that Airbus anticipates 23,100 aircraft to be equipped with connectivity by the year 2025. Looking back, there were zero airlines connected in 2007, and ten years later, in 2017 there were 106 aircraft connected. Needless to say, the forecasted rate of implementation over the next nine to ten years is impressive and enhances the fact that the integration of digitalization is growing rapidly.

How is connectivity coming onboard? Smartphones are used by travelers for booking and check-in – smartphones are the #1 travel companion. What does this information translate to onboard the aircraft? Passengers want choice! Airbus stated that the 2017 SITA IT Trends Survey & the Gogo Global Traveler 2018 Survey foresee more multi-screen environments in the future – both BYOD & inseat screens. This degree of digitalization provides an opportunity for a more tailored/targeted service and airlines are in the process of developing personalized offers that are enabled by: mobile connectivity, data analytics, and the passenger’s willingness to share personal data (right now that is roughly 27% of consumers).

Airbus has been actively pursuing the future of the connected cabin (the wireless network that links everything in cabin: galleys, overhead bag bins, flight attendants, passengers, cargo bays, lavatories, etc.), creating a cabin ecosystem for seamless connectivity of the various cabin elements, enabling additional value for both the airlines and the passengers. “The idea is to have every commodity in the cabin talking to each other, creating value for the airline and the passenger.”

Anaïs said, “There are three (3) pillars of the connected experience: 1) Operational Efficiency, 2) Ancillary Revenue, & 3) Passenger Experience.” Examples are:  Operational Efficiency – predictive maintenance, cabin crew operations and turnaround times; Ancillary Revenues – personalized inflight retail, tailored advertising, and news services; and the Passenger Experience – personalized catering, individual comfort settings, personalized services and the amount of bag bin space available. All the aforementioned will be achieved by using an IoT platform.

“At the moment we (Airbus) are doing predictive maintenance with the aircraft data but we want to be able to map that over to the cabin as well. Airbus is working with other aircraft manufacturers and suppliers in order to facilitate this in the near future. We, as an industry, are working on a common and secure language because this will benefit both the airline and the passenger”. In closing, Anaïs said, “I’ve recently asked Fritz Urban (Airbus’ cochair of the ARINC CSS committee) if CSS is going to write a standard for this network. As of today, there has been no response.”

The First Panel Discussion on Digital Trends pertained to Creating the Complete Digital and Physical Journey. This stream focused on how biometric technologies are providing an opportunity to reach the passenger on their journey through the airport and onto the aircraft.

Russell Holmes, Strategy Director & Partner of ico Design, was the first to address attendees. Mr. Holmes has been working with the London Luton Airport team over the past 5 years and has been instrumental in developing their brand.  His message evolved around the concept of looking at best practices. He said, “Everything should be underpinned by something that is not working as individual silos.” He went on to say, “The airport identity needs to work not only in a physical space but also in a digital space.” The airport identity should be completely flexible. One cannot look at the airport as static space. The question then is: How do you create something as a brand that can live in both the physical and digital space?

The next panelist was David Bartlett, CTO of Panasonic Avionics. David spoke to the assembly about the concept of competitive differentiation and the concept of the 4th Dimension/Place. He explained that for people the First Place is Home, the Second Place is Work and the Third Place (as defined by Ray Oldenburg in 1989 who stated it was critical to modern society, democracy) is a place that you go that you opt in (think coffee shop or a café). A prime example of a company that has really leveraged the concept of the Third Place is Starbucks. Mr. Bartlett sated, “We at Panasonic Avionics are proposing that Travel is the Fourth Place. Why is travel the logical fourth place?  We believe the travel experience is the co-mingling of the first 3 places. When you travel you socialize, work, sleep, eat.”

The concept of the 4th place is it must be a place that people look forward to being in. This is achieved by removing a lot of the friction points. How do we do this? How do we make the journey more of a place that people want to be in? How do we do this an industry? People want an experience that is seamless and gives them an immersive experience. How do we, as an industry, provide them with one connected experience starting from the home, throughout the journey, then back to the home? In other words, how do we provide a more personally curated experience? Panasonic cannot do this alone. It is an action call to the industry to leverage the entire ecosystem to work together in a new and more open way to achieve this.

The third panelist was Simon Krasowski, SVP Digital Transformation, Diehl Aviation; who discussed Digital Aviation Transformation. Simon said, “The world is shifting and becoming more complex. We are moving from complicated to more complex systems. How do we solve the problems and tackle them? It is more about testing different options. So, we need to change the way we work, take risks and allow failures.” He went on to say that we must make certain that we, as an industry, have seamless processes through the value chain. Right now, competitive priced products may be an answer, but in the future, it will be more about customer concentricity and speed of innovation – in other words, design thinking. “We must work closer within our work ecosystem and work with partners in order to achieve better and faster results. In other words, the key for success is collaboration within ecosystem. This calls for a balance between traditional working methods and agile working methods.”

The fourth panelist was Anne de Hauw of IN Air Travel Experience. Ms. De Hauw started her presentation stating that traditionally, airlines focused on safety and the passenger focused on the experience. Today, the question is should the focus be on the customer or technology? “At IN Air, we believe that time is your customer’s most valuable resource.  Airlines are going from creating technologies to services. They will do this by using technology as an enabler (AI, block chain). Technology (AI) will be crucial in customer service and convenience will be the new loyalty.”

Anne went on to discuss the 5 Key Pillars that will be needed, and they are: 1) Data-Driven: data gathering, machine learning and rapid analysis. This will lead to predicting behavior > intelligent offers > higher revenues. 2) Connectivity: onboard connectivity is transforming the travel experience to an open & connected world. Passengers behave like usual digital consumers. 3) Customer-Centricity: Reinvented offerings to evolve into hyper-personalized, immersive and emotional experiences. 4) Personalization: Faster and more efficient personalized services. 5) Collaborative Eco-System: Stakeholder interaction, passenger engagement and data sharing to create a positive and competitive experience.

She went on to discuss the New Brand Hierarchy, where, companies like Apple, Google and Amazon hold the top tier. Airlines are located on the second tier. She asked the question of how to play on that level? IN Air believes the answer is in providing ultimate convenience to the passenger. It has to be fast, easy and fun (FEF). This is achieved by being a combination of both digital and human interface. The best of the digital conveniences would be comprised of: seamless and single token, AI and Service Bot, Data analytics, connectivity. The best of human interface would be comprised of: hospitality, culture, emotional experiences, service. The best of both: Personalization/CURATION, Loyalty/COMMUNITY, engagement/CREATION and convenience/CONNECTIVITY. Anne wrapped up her presentation with the following, “The human interface will become the new premium service. The human interface is comprised of empathy, passion and creativity, with emotion at the core.” “The airline must care,” said Anne. She used an example of economy food service. What the food looks like, how it is presented, etc. and stated that this is an example of how the human interface currently needs to be improved in today’s market. She asked, “Why can’t the food look appealing and be presented in a more appetizing fashion? This is not helping the cause. There are technologies that are disrupting airline catering. New initiatives are on the cusp for utilizing the digital advancements to get this going. This is what we as an industry need to strive for!

The last speaker from this session of the Digital Trends stream was Elizabeth “Bess” Chapman, Operating Principal of JetBlue Technologies (JBT). She works with portfolio companies to create compelling value propositions for JetBlue, source new technology and identify emerging trends. She stated that innovation is a big part of JetBlue’s airline identify but she has found it has become more challenging to become more innovative. “We want to find the next Uber in aviation,” said Bess.

How does JetBlue Technologies work? They scan the global ecosystem for start-ups. Once they find one that is appealing JBT partners with them. They help them get going then bring them back into JetBlue. “We work with startups both via investment but with time as well,” said Bess. Over time, they have invested in 22 companies.

“Brand is an identity former. Look at Apple. They have incredibly strong brand identity. If they were to launch an airline, who wouldn’t fly it?! Virgin has a very strong brand identity, but many others do not,” she said. “People and their interaction and empathy are very significant. Again, look at an Apple store vs. an airline counter at an airport.”

One challenge now is to test and take risks and see what really works, but also, the industrialization to make certain you have the best product for your customer.

Disruptions in a business like an airline is very different from an electronics giant like Apple. Whether it is a delay, etc. How do you get that irate passenger to come around and change their position from being annoyed to appreciative? Is it offering them free Wi-Fi, a glass of champagne? You really have to know the individual’s wants/needs. This is another advantage in digital technology – it is not only cutting cost but being able to deliver. And reliability is very important.

Value Perspective: What is the next big value disruption? With regards to AI, a lot has been done with biometrics via facial technology for within the airport that allows passengers to board using biometrics, so there is no need for a boarding pass, because facial recognition is so secure. With this digital information, there is then the opportunity to target those people with sales/shopping en route to the gate. JBT also believes that the insights from the data will be absolutely game changing for our industry.

Another area that JBT finds significant is the airlines that want to boost their customer service and personal interaction are the airlines who are looking at the concept of virtual assistants, so it really is a better balance, it isn’t actually trying to depersonalize the experience. How people interact with a virtual assistant may be key. You tend to talk with them in a neutral way vs. the way you may interact with a person or your partner. This may be a way that the technology understands who I am, how quickly I need to get through the airport, etc. All reducing the stress of the journey.

Next week the IFExpress team will wrap-up the Digital Trends Stream with “Taking the Pain Out of the Digital Journey” and the final session “Enhancing Your Reality”.


ASTRONICS

Astronics Corporation announced that it will supply inflight entertainment system hardware for a next-generation inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) system being developed by one of the largest airlines in the United States. Under the agreement, Astronics’ products will equip nearly 50 of the airlines’ new widebody aircraft. Provided by Astronics CSC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Astronics Corporation, Astronics is now delivering production units that are a combination of new and existing products, both standard off-the-shelf and custom designs.


GOGO

Gogo Inc. announced the pricing of the previously announced private offering of $905 million aggregate principal amount of 9.875% senior secured notes due 2024 (the “Notes”) to be issued by its direct wholly owned subsidiary, Gogo Intermediate Holdings LLC (“Holdings LLC”), and its indirect wholly owned subsidiary, Gogo Finance Co. Inc. (the “Co-Issuer” and, together with Holdings LLC, the “Issuers”).  The offering is expected to close on April 25, 2019, subject to certain closing conditions.


EDITOR’S NOTE

While IFExpress’ primary focus is IFEC, we have been flooded with news about the 737 MAX. We recommend this April 18, 2019 article from the IEEE Spectrum. It is both descriptive and technical and represents the observations and operating conditions of the aircraft by an author who is both a pilot and software developer.  How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer – IEEE Spectrum


OTHER NEWS

  • L-Band is being tested in Germany for the future of aviation communication and one of the reason is data rate – 2.6 Megabits/sec versus a few kilobits. Notes Avionics International: “First, it is an alternative link that pilots and controllers can use to digitally exchange much of the same information they communicate today verbally. Secondly, it can serve as an alternative positioning, navigation and timing signal for correcting aircraft navigation accuracy when global navigation satellite system links such as Galileo or EGNOS in Europe are interrupted or unavailable.” Flight Tests of LDACS Prototype Under Way in Germany – Avionics International
  • If you are into antennas, or you want to learn more about antennas, check out this site. The Antenna Theory Website As they (and Einstein) say: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

 

 

 

  • A biometric, single-enrollment identification streamlines the passenger’s outbound and return journey at multiple airports
  • SelfPass will be on display at this week’s Passenger Terminal EXPO

Annapolis, Maryland | March 27, 2019– Passengers traveling through England’s Bristol Airport and Ireland’s Dublin Airport can look forward to a new streamlined journey with Collins Aerospace’s SelfPass biometric solution. The solution, now being trialed at Bristol Airport and Dublin Airport, is believed to be the first biometric solution that enables passengers to use a single enrollment in multiple countries. SelfPass will be available for demonstration at the Passenger Terminal EXPO in London, England this week in Collins Aerospace’s booth — number 6030.

Passengers are already taking advantage of a streamlined journey at Bristol Airport with multiple biometric checkpoints, making the process easier from the time they check-in for their flight to the time they board. When SelfPass launches in Dublin next month, passengers will be the first to take advantage of the multi-country solution.

“Dublin and Bristol Airports are changing the way passengers travel and making the process easier and more efficient. For example, it takes less than one second to capture and process a passenger’s facial image and eliminates the need to repeatedly present travel documents,” said Christopher Forrest, vice president of Global Airport Systems for Collins Aerospace. “We see this as another leap forward for our biometric technology to play a key role in making the connected aviation ecosystem a reality.”

At Bristol, the new trial will biometrically enable multiple touchpoints, including:

  • Check-in
  • Self-bag drop
  • Security
  • Boarding gates

The initial trial will be extended to include:

  • Website and mobile enrollment
  • Lounge access

“The passenger growth at Bristol Airport is increasing, and we are looking at using technology like the Collins Aerospace biometric solution set to help make our airport a high-quality experience for our customers,” said Graeme Gamble, chief operating officer for Bristol Airport. “The cooperation of Collins and the Bristol Airport team is making Bristol a leader in Airport innovation and customer service.”

“We are really pleased to be an early adopter of this new technology designed to further enhance the experience for both our passengers and our airline customers at Dublin Airport,” said Frances O’Brien, vice president of PMO for daa. “We are delighted with the progress of the trial so far and look forward to extending the offering to a wider audience, including those travelling to the U.S. in the coming months.”

  • JetBlue trialing Collins Aerospace biometric self-boarding gates at JFK
  • Passengers can now use SelfPass facial scan technology to streamline the boarding process.

Annapolis, Maryland |March 26, 2019–JetBlue is advancing the boarding process at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) with SelfPass — a biometric facial scanning process implemented by Collins Aerospace, in cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Passengers using SelfPass, with fully integrated self-boarding gates, may board international flights through one gate in Terminal 5 and experience a more streamlined process. Boarding is performed in a matter of seconds and eliminates the need to present traditional boarding and identification documents.

With SelfPass, there is no pre-registration required. Air travelers simply step up to the camera for a facial match against their travel document — such as CBP photos previously loaded in the system — then proceed to board the aircraft.

“Biometric solutions are the future when it comes to improving the passenger experience at the airport, and JetBlue is playing a crucial role to make this transformation a reality,” said Christopher Forrest, vice president of Global Airport Systems for Collins Aerospace. “Not only are we reducing the amount of time it takes a passenger to move through the airport, but we’re also adding a heightened level of security.”

“The innovative use of biometrics for customer processing is driving the aviation industry forward and aligns with IATA’s One ID concept,” said Ian Deason, senior vice president of customer experience for JetBlue. “By working together with Collins Aerospace, we’re bringing JetBlue customers a personal, helpful and simple experience each time they fly.”

SelfPass doesn’t just benefit the passenger. It enables airports and airlines to implement and grow their biometric capabilities at various touchpoints by being uniquely scalable and hardware independent. By implementing a more efficient boarding process, airlines can improve on-time departures and increase passenger satisfaction.

New SITA kiosks to speed passenger processing at airports while boosting national security

Mexico | April 10, 2018– The Federal Government of Mexico is strengthening border control by automating the entry process with the introduction of SITA’s Automated Border Control kiosks. The new kiosks will use biometric technology to capture fingerprints to verify passengers’ identities and improve national security.

SITA has rolled out 100 kiosks across three major airports. These international airports, in Mexico City, Cancun and Los Cabos, are operated by three airport companies – Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México (AICM), Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) and Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP). SITA is the systems integrator across the project delivering to the needs of all the Mexican authorities and the private enterprises in the various locations.

Enrique De la Madrid, Secretary General, SECTUR, the Mexican Ministry of Tourism, said: “As visitor numbers at international airports grow, the need for migration agents grows as well, but we have the technology to help us overcoming that challenge. This automation will ensure security and facilitate the arrival of visitors to the country.”

Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Secretary General, SCT, the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation, said: “The installation of these kiosks represents another example of the implementation of state-of-the-art technology in Mexico, aimed at preserving the safety of people and their goods, as well as facilitating activities related to aviation. Automating the entry of domestic and foreign passengers who do not require a visa is achieved by capturing biometric data (fingerprints, photography and scanning of the passport), which quadruples the capacity of passenger attention for each migration agent.”

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President, Latin America, said: “This is an exciting development in Mexico. The country is well known for its tourism and our automated border control kiosks will improve the experience for passengers at these key airports. As with most border management operations, making this improvement involves many government agencies working together with various airport operators. SITA is the integrator working with all parties, drawing on our decades of border automation experience with more than 40 governments worldwide, to deliver a secure and seamless passenger journey in Mexico.”

Initially, the SITA automated border control kiosks will be used to securely identify passengers as they enter the country. In time, they will facilitate the full admission process for Mexican citizens and those non-citizens who do not require a visa for entry. Arriving passengers will use the kiosks to provide standard travel information to the authorities, place their hand to be scanned for fingerprints and then once their identity is verified against the INM (National Institute of Immigration) database they will be given the all clear to enter the country.

Automating the entry process will help speed up passenger processing while maintaining high levels of security. SITA border technology enables governments to clear large numbers of passengers in record time. Travelers from up to five SITA iBorders® BorderAutomation ABCKiosks can be managed from just one immigration counter and these kiosks have been shown to reduce the time passengers spend in line by as much as 40%.

Gerardo Garcia, Commissioner to INM, the National Institute of Immigration, said: “Automation increases security and efficiency. Increased numbers of low-risk passengers are processed quickly, conveniently, and cost-effectively while we maintain the security and integrity of our border.By automating the arrival process using SITA’s world-class biometric kiosks, we will improve the speed and accuracy of checks of passengers arriving in Mexico.”

The full rollout across Mexico City, Cancun and Los Cabos International airports is now complete and the 100 SITA kiosks are expected to securely process close to eight million arrivals in the first year.

 

Leveraging India’s Aadhaar system will create the world’s most efficient travel system

Air Transport IT Summit, Jaipur, India | March 22, 2018– With its leading Smart PathTM biometric solution for ID management now rolled out globally, air transport IT provider SITA is well poised to deliver a seamless, paperless travel experience for passengers across India.

SITA has already shown the benefits of using biometric technology to automate passenger identity checks at airports across the world – from the USA to Australia – and is well positioned to help unlock the full benefits of seamless, biometric travel across India.

Maneesh Jaikrishna, SITA Vice President Indian Subcontinent, Eastern & Southern Africa, speaking at the Air Transport IT Summit in Jaipur, said: “Leveraging India’s national Aadhaar biometric identity system – one of the biggest in the world – together with our proven common-use and Smart PathTM technology, SITA will be able to deliver a seamless biometric experience across all airlines and airports – both domestic and international – in India. This would allow passengers to use their biometric identity no matter where they travel.”

SITA is already successfully helping airports and airlines incorporate biometrics into their existing infrastructure and government systems. According to Biometrics for Better Travel: An ID Management Revolution, a SITA report published this week, airlines and airports are increasingly investing in various forms of biometric technology. Over the next three years, 63% of airports and 43% of airlines plan to invest in biometric ID management solutions.

In the USA, SITA is using facial biometrics to help passengers flying with British Airways from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick to quickly board where all that is needed is a photo – no passport, no boarding card. The system integrates the US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) and airline’s IT systems to authorize boarding while completing necessary US exit checks in a single process. SITA is providing a similar solution to JetBlue at Boston’s Logan Airport.

At Australia’s Brisbane Airport, SITA has introduced its Smart Path™ technology which allows passengers to register their biometric details at a self-service kiosk at check-in and then, when ready to board, use an automated boarding gate to be verified using face recognition technology to access the aircraft.

SITA’s vision for the future strongly supports India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation’s decision to work with the air transport industry to create a “digitally unified flying experience”. Citizens’ national biometric identification cards and foreigner’s passports could be linked with the databases of airlines, airports and other stakeholders to deliver a seamless, secure travel experience at every step in the journey.

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa, said: “In many respects, India is leading the way with the use of biometrics in all walks of life. We feel this presents an opportunity for the Government of India to work with the air transport industry and lead the way to drive new efficiencies in passenger processing and establish India as the world’s most efficient travel system.”

Aadhaar, India’s biometric identity system, has over one billion enrolled members. Indian passengers have shown greater willingness to use biometrics to speed up their journey through the airport. Research published in SITA’s  2017 Passenger IT Trends Survey showed that 70% of passengers in India said they would definitely use biometrics if given the option, removing the need to show a passport or boarding card at key points in the airport. This was well above the global average of 57%.

Maneesh Jaikrishna, said: “Many travelers are comfortable with the use of biometrics and see the benefits of using them throughout their journey. This aligns perfectly with the need to find more efficient ways to manage rising passenger numbers. There is little doubt that this technology is the key to resolving India’s constraints on airport infrastructure.”

India is expected to see passenger numbers grow by 337 million over the next 20 years to 2036, more than tripling from the 141 million passengers in 2016, according to IATA’s 20-year Air Passenger Forecast.

SITA automated boarding gates speed passengers through boarding using secure biometrics

Orlando, Florida | March 8, 2018– Passengers flying with British Airways from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick are enjoying a secure and seamless departure with new biometric boarding at the gate. A quick photo is all that is needed to board the international flight – no passport, no boarding card – thanks to innovative technology. SITA, the global air transport IT provider, integrated automated boarding gates with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and airline’s IT systems to allow the necessary checks and authorize boarding.

This is a joint initiative by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), British Airways and CBP to incorporate the US biometric departure (exit) check for passengers as smoothly as possible. SITA, using its extensive airline and airport expertise, has ensured fast and easy implementation for the airport and airline. By merging the usual boarding procedures with the CBP biometric exit check, SITA is delivering a smooth experience for passengers.  A quick photograph taken at the gate is used to confirm passengers’ identities and authorization to travel.

John Newsome, Chief Information Officer, GOAA, said: “This innovative boarding process is already proving popular with passengers. They simply look at the camera and within seconds the gate opens and they can board the flight. It is easy, fast and most importantly, secure. While we are currently using SITA’s gates for biometric exit with British Airways, they are common-use boarding gates so they can be easily used by other airlines at MCO.”

Raoul Cooper, Digital Airport Design Manager, British Airways, said: “Our customers are always our first priority and we want to make their journey as smooth as possible. Working closely with SITA at Orlando has allowed us to explore various ways of incorporating the US biometric exit check.  Together we have designed a really smooth and secure departure process for our customers, including children, as they leave Orlando. This complements the learning and insight we have gained in Los Angeles where a similar technology trial is under way.”

The option to board at Orlando by simply looking into a camera is available now to British Airways passengers on flight BA 2036 to London Gatwick. The trial will run for up to 90 days. Participation is optional and passengers can choose to provide their passport and other documents to an agent to board the flight. During the early days of the trial, the response from passengers has been very positive with nearly 100% of passengers opting to simply look in the camera and board the plane.

Diana Einterz, SITA President, Americas, said: “We are working closely with the US CBP, airlines and airports to test different ways of doing the US biometric exit check. This includes our recent award-winning work with JetBlue at Boston Logan International Airport, and British Airways at Los Angeles International Airport. We have designed this solution to meet the needs of all parties. It is based on industry-standard common-use gates so it can be used by any other airline at Orlando and by airlines at any other common-use airport.”

The use of biometrics is growing globally and SITA is a world-leader using biometrics to deliver secure seamless journeys for airline passengers. SITA Smart Path, which is in use in Brisbane Airport, Australia, provides a walkthrough experience from check-in to the aircraft door helping passengers fast-track through the airport.

SITA provides self-service solutions at every step of the passenger journey from check-in to boarding at airports across the world. More than 165 airlines use SITA’s passenger processing applications while its common-use systems board more than 100 million passengers per year. Today, SITA provides border management solutions to more than 40 governments across the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Einterz added: “SITA is the global provider to the air transport industry and we develop our solutions for airlines and airports so that they are scalable and work in multiple environments worldwide. Our integration of the automated boarding gates is being investigated with US CBP, British Airways and Orlando International Airport for speed and efficiency of passenger processing as they do accurate border checks. Our performance analysis of this trial will help all our partners evaluate how best they can use biometrics to meet their individual operational needs.”

New York | February 12, 2018– SITA has won the respected Aviation Technology Achievement at Air Transport World’s 2018 Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards. The award was given for SITA’s work with JetBlue and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to deliver a new secure, paperless and deviceless self-boarding process, using biometric technology.

This was the world’s first biometric boarding system using just a facial scan to board passengers while also completing the US customs and border exit checks. Working with JetBlue and the CBP, at Boston’s Logan International Airport, SITA demonstrated that biometric technology can reduce friction points in the airport experience including at boarding, where integrating checks with government systems is one of the hardest challenges to solve. The technology eliminates any boarding pass scanning and passport checks. Passengers just need to simply look into the camera for a quick photo and they are on their way. The integration of the airline and government systems by SITA showed how passengers can enjoy a seamless experience, while demonstrating how airlines and government border agencies can work together to enhance security.

Barbara Dalibard, CEO of SITA, said: “Our vision is to make air travel easy, for airlines, airports and, ultimately, for passengers.  Integrating biometrics with the industry’s existing infrastructure, IT systems and processes, along with multiple security and border control systems, can be complex but it delivers a remarkably simple solution. Our work with JetBlue and the US CBP shows how SITA delivers secure and seamless travel to the industry today.

“The ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards recognize excellence in the air transport industry, looking in particular at outstanding performance, innovation, and superior service. I am very proud that the innovative work of the SITA team has won this award and would like to thank our partners, in particular JetBlue, for recognizing our expertise to develop this technology for them.”

The ATW Awards will be presented at The Mansion House in Dublin, Ireland on 27 March 2018.

Welcome back to IFEC in 2018, and thank you for following us throughout 2017. Having said that, this coming New Year ought to be one of the most interesting years for our technology, and almost everything else for that matter. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we wanted to pass along a short 2018 New Year message from Joe Leader, CEO of APEX and IFSA: “As we launch into 2018, APEX celebrates its 40th year of serving the passenger experience industry with every major airline in the world. The year ahead will see ancillary revenue tying into more facets of new products. In addition, we expect that this is the year that in-flight Wi-Fi surpasses 50% of available seat miles worldwide. It’s going to be an incredible year with major advancements.” We have a feeling he is right on track for this industry and he said it – the IFEC future will be a big deal in 2018, and we certainly agree – with inflight Wi-Fi becoming the passenger necessity. Furthermore, we agree with Mr. Leader’s comment that over 50% of available seat miles will have access to inflight Wi-Fi this new year, with the result being  new innovations that will generate both passenger and flight revenue. Thanks Joe!

Next, we thought it be interesting to delve into some specifics for 2018, as we do almost every year with some reported IFExpress efforts from last January 2017. One prediction that stood out was from an “un-named” provider who said: “The exponential growth of cabin Wi-Fi usage within the confines of the same aircraft will lead to more congestion in the cabin – passenger data to-and-from aircraft will more than quadruple in 2017.” Along the same lines last year, Joe Leader of APEX sent similar predictions: “Connectivity announcements and deployment will hit a new high for the industry and In-flight entertainment continues its expansion with more global IFE system installations and upgrades.” We knew that something like this was coming as well, but what’s new (or what’s news) is the speed at which this is happening. Perhaps, data quadrupling 2017 from 2016 may be a push; however, lets look at what the folks at Inmarsat say today: “Inflight broadband is changing the airline industry and revolutionizing passengers’ expectations of the onboard experience. That is the conclusion from the third annual global Inflight Connectivity Survey, published today by Inmarsat …Overwhelmingly, passengers now expect the same levels of connectivity and access to online services whilst they are at 30,000 feet as they receive on the ground. As such, 60% of all passengers say that inflight Wi-Fi is now a necessity rather than a luxury. The majority (61%) of global passengers who have experienced high-quality inflight Wi-Fi rate it higher on their list of priorities than inflight entertainment when choosing an airline.” The report went on: Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “High-quality inflight Wi-Fi is changing the way people think about flying and how they spend their time in the air. Whether using the time to work, to connect with friends and family, or to pass time shopping or viewing entertainment, the availability of inflight broadband has become a major factor when choosing an airline.””

Last year in IFExpress we wrote about the value of messages and that connectivity was the solution for doing so – what we said then is even more relevant today: “While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non-interruptive. Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase, and has done so for each year, for the last 5 years.” Needless to say, we do not expect the demand to diminish as far as passengers expectations for messaging real-time inflight, in fact, we anticipate the demand to grow exponentially.

Another couple areas of predictive interest last January were Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. We noted in our IFExpress predictions: “Maintenance of aircraft will see more outsourcing, new technology products like AI and voice technology used in maintenance products, and more consolidation in the MRO world (Maintenance Repair Overhaul).” A recent IATA meeting in November 2017 featured speakers on both subjects – Finnair’s Rogier van Enk talked about using “Artificial Intelligence to assist customer service agents in managing the increasing volume of interactions with customers over social media channels,” while SITA’s Wayne Matrose shared knowledge of predicting disruptions with the use of “Neural Networks, to try and better predict the likelihood of a disruption to an airline’s scheduled movements. What data was used and how it was sourced? The importance of data quality and cleansing to make it both usable and useful. What can be predicted and what are the current limitations found with this technology (e.g. Black Swan events) – Ultimately, what changes are required to maximize the operational value of accurate predictions”

Another area we covered was seating and while we were on target for smaller seating, there was on area we missed. Here is what we said in early 2017: “Narrower aircraft seats are coming in 2017, especially in newer low class offerings where only certain sized carry-on baggage will be permitted – smaller and surely less comfortable as well. We already know United Airlines has a new low cost Basic Economy package that will be copied by others. The rub will be what limitations will be placed on passengers who do not have the airline reward travel card! Hey, many folks can travel short flights and put up with almost anything. It is all a function of what they have to take with them. And yes, cheaper seats will be located in the back of the plane.”

What we missed for 2017 was the new “beyond” Basic Economy package rolled out this past year with these extreme lack of features : even lower cost seats, seat selection and upgrades are not available, group and family seating is not available, full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted, one personal item is allowed, flight changes and refunds are not allowed, certain MileagePlus and Premier member benefits are not available, and they are the last boarding group. However, United notes: Basic Economy fares provide most of the same inflight services and amenities that are available with standard Economy — such as food and beverages, United Wi-FiSM and inflight entertainment.

One area where IFExpress fell short in our forecast for 2017 was company employees. We predicted the following for 2017: We fear aviation manufacturing layoffs”…While employee data is a little shaky because of the multitude of companies within a large corporation; we predicted a decline in employees from 2016 to 2017. When we looked in 2016, Boeing had 150K+ workers – today, it is around 174K. Airbus is also up.

We should also note that there are a lot of industry changes (not aviation) that will affect IFEC in the coming year. Video on Demand/LiveTV will surely eventually affect inflight entertainment and connectivity. Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain may as well. In 2018 blockchain will move beyond standard banking applications to money transfer, insurance, digital identification and even insurance, it will be on the aviation near horizon. Similarly, edge computing (near the source of data to reduce transmitted data) could be at the heart of aviation control, monitoring and data communication. With the airplane a trove of unanalyzed data and passengers desire to send and receive more data, connectivity, IFE, and TV, data will be the new connection from the air to the ground and vise-versa – not to mention smart bag issues, power-at-a-distance charging systems; as well as, increased satellite payloads ($11B – 2017 to $18B – 2022) and service providers.

Anyway, another year has passed and IFExpress is now in its 26th year and we still love the craziness of this entertainment and connectivity based aircraft show, albeit, it is getting harder to stay current with all the ups (and downs) of technology, connectivity, seat shrinkage, increased baggage payments, super long haul travel, passenger biometrics, security, and political impacts on the rights and preferences of travelers. There are even bigger changes coming: Net Neutrality and it’s effect on aviation and connectivity neutrality, higher prices coming, airport and possible airplane biometrics, Wi-Fi vs embedded IFE, prospective “splitter” customers, younger airline customers, and even Amazon in the business! However, because each year we are surprised, entertained and enlightened by the creativity and brilliance of many of the industry engineers, marketeers and developers, we again will close with the words of Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Enjoy the MAGIC!

Editor’s Note: Just in case you feel like quitting this year, watch this — and NEVER GIVE UP!

Vision-Box has just implemented a paperless biometric self-boarding
solution to expedite passenger flow and improve traveler experience


Princeton, NJ | December 20, 2017–
Los Angeles Airport is trialing an advanced biometric self-boarding solution by Vision-Box to clear travelers flying out of the USA in a contactless, quick and secure way.
The new passenger flow solution allows travelers to board their aircraft in just a few seconds simply by looking into a high-resolution face capture system at the traveler- friendly flow-control gateway. No need to present their travel document or boarding pass anymore. The system deployed by Vision-Box captures a live, high quality image of the traveler’s unique biometric facial traits, for US Customs and Border Protection to match it against the passenger’s file containing the digital facial token captured at the initial immigration process. This process permits as well to virtualize the process of sending the boarding-pass details to the Airline Departure Control System, using face as a token to reconcile the passenger and his flight. After assuring the identity and eligibility of the passenger on that specific flight, the gateway then opens and the traveler can swiftly board the aircraft.

The solution combines an effective human-factor centric design along with key security features, such as biometric data capture of superior quality in a complex environment in seconds. This combination consequently delivers high-performance reliable match against the authorities’ biometric database, pre-processed by Vision-Box anti-spoofing and liveness checks technology. In spite of the fact that the solution is ready to rely solely on biometrics, it accommodates other possible workflows that include boarding-pass scan, seat re-assignment or multiple additional verification modalities.

Security, safety, efficiency, and a unique, traveler-centric experience are the cornerstone of the project developed in the scope of a partnership between LAX and Vision-Box, supported by US Customs and Border Protection Agency under the umbrella of the US Biometric Exit trial program. British Airways was the first airline to begin expediting boarding procedures using the new contactless technology.

Justin Erbacci, chief innovation and technology officer at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the airport oversight and operations department, said, “This industry-first deployment of innovative solutions from the US Customs and Border Protection and Vision-Box, shows the amazing potential of using biometrics to speed up the boarding process while maintaining safety and security. We have been very impressed with the results thus far, and love to see the passengers’ excitement at being some of the first in the world to use facial recognition”.

Miguel Leitmann, Chief Executive Officer and Founder at Vision-Box explained the reasons for success: “Vision-Box made use of state-of- the-art biometric technology, able to deliver high quality data that drastically enhance matching accuracy, sustained by in-house developed Deep Machine Learning engines for superior facial capture. The results present a solution that addresses current security, efficiency and flow-control challenges in a relevant, revolutionary way. We are very proud to have come up with an industry- changing solution that all stakeholders involved in the process rely on. In the end, it’s about collaboratively raising the security and efficiency standards while eliminating obstacles from the traveler’s way, offering frictionless interactions and the best experience to guests until they’re comfortably seating in the aircraft.

The new contactless platform has been installed on three stands of Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport and will be tested by a number of other airlines after New Year’s Eve.

Travelers expect mobile services and biometrics to speed up their journey 

Mumbai | November 23, 2017–As passengers in India become more familiar with the use of technology – particularly mobile – they expect to use it more on their airline journey. This is according to the 2017 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey, a global survey released by IT provider SITA and co-sponsored by Air Transport World.

While the use of technology among Indian airline passengers remains high at check-in (87%) and booking (52%), 2017 saw tremendous growth in usage at other points in the journey. The research showed while adoption remains low, self-bag drop usage climbed to 21% from 12% in 2016.

Passengers are also demanding new mobile services with 83% saying that they would definitely use flight updates on their mobile. And they would use their mobile for baggage services too: 82% would report mishandled bags and 79% would track their bags in real-time. This comes as no surprise with more than one billion Indians using at least one mobile device in 2016 of which 300 million are using a smart device[1].

Maneesh Jaikrishna, SITA Vice President Indian Subcontinent, Eastern & Southern Africa said: “In India, travelers are increasingly demanding the use of self-service and mobile technology in the airport to speed up their journey. This expectation, in many cases, is running ahead of availability in Indian airports today.”

The research shows 54% of passengers would rather opt to use self-bag drop than go to an airline check-in counter, compared to 33% globally and well ahead of current usage.

Jaikrishna said: “This is good news for the industry as it provides airports and airlines the opportunity to fully benefit from technology to speed up the journey and drive operational efficiencies, helping them meet the demands of rapidly growing passenger numbers across the country.”

India is expected to see passenger numbers grow by 337 million over the next 20 years to 2036, more than tripling from the 141 million passengers in 2016.2

Another area that is gaining the attention of passengers is the use of biometrics. India’s national biometric identity system is the largest in the world with over one billion enrolled members and Indian passengers have shown greater willingness to use biometrics to speed up their journey through the airport. In 2017, 70% of passengers in India said they would definitely use biometrics if given the option, removing the need to show a passport or boarding card at key points in the airport. This was well above the global average of 57%.

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation is working with the air transport industry to create a “digitally unified flying experience” where citizens’ national biometric identification cards and foreigner’s passports are optionally linked with the databases of airlines, airports and other stakeholders to deliver a seamless, paperless travel experience at every step in the journey.

Jaikrishna said: “Many travelers are comfortable with the use of biometrics and see the benefits of using them on their travels. This aligns perfectly with the need to find more efficient ways to manage rising passenger numbers with current resources. There is little doubt that technology is the key to resolving India’s constraints on airport infrastructure.”

The survey was conducted across seven Indian airports, representing 71% of passengers in the country.

Multimodal biometrics to streamline travel and deliver industry innovation

Long Beach, California | September 26, 2017– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in inflight entertainment and connectivity, and Tascent, Inc., a biometrics and identity innovation company, today announced their intent to enter into a strategic partnership to bring biometric passenger identification to every stage of the passenger journey – both on the ground and in the air.

The companies will combine Tascent’s biometric identity devices, software and services with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s in-flight entertainment and communications systems to provide streamlined, easy-to-use identity recognition before departure, during flight, and upon arrival. These combined capabilities coupled with enabling technologies from Panasonic Corporation will support industry trends toward smart airports and the connected passenger journey, while bringing innovations such as seatback immigration, streamlined personalization and in-flight biometric payment within reach.

Together, Panasonic and Tascent will bring additional value to Panasonic’s aviation customers through improved personalization and convenience for passengers, helping to reduce friction points for passengers and airlines from the journey’s start to finish.

Chris Lundquist, Vice President Corporate Strategic Initiatives at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said, “Our partnership with Tascent is yet another example of our vision for the connected aircraft and its benefits becoming a reality for the commercial aviation community. With this agreement, Panasonic and Tascent will create unique offerings that use biometrics to personalize the in-flight experience and beyond. We look forward to working with Tascent on a host of capabilities that will take the traveler journey to new heights.”

Alastair Partington, founder and co-CEO of Tascent, said: “We are excited to combine our specialist knowledge of biometrics with Panasonic Avionics’ outstanding track-record of air travel innovation. Tomorrow’s air travelers will be best served by an aviation industry that adopts biometrics technologies in an intelligent, personal and thoughtful way. Tascent and Panasonic share a joint vision of an exciting future in which biometrics technologies improve the air traveler experience for all.”

Well IFExpress readers, it’s that time again – Aircraft Interiors and here is the story: “This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) 2017, which takes place in Hamburg, Germany from 4th – 6th April, is the global stage to see the latest innovations and product launches from the world’s leading suppliers in aircraft cabin interiors and Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity. This year, AIX welcomes 55 new exhibiting companies, including Adient, Bombardier and airtango. They will join more than 500 companies at the event including longstanding exhibitors such as; Airbus, B/E Aerospace, Boeing, Inmarsat, Panasonic Avionics and Zodiac and newer entrants such as Acro, and Mirus Aircraft Seating. Across AIX as a whole, 125 companies are expanding their presence taking an additional 3,000 sq. meters between them.”

The show news release went on: “According to the IATA’s 2016 Global Passenger Survey, a key concern for passengers, particularly those under 24, is having the same connectivity in the air as on the ground, highlighting the need for continued airline investment to meet passenger needs. This is reflected in the continued growth of the IFEC Zone. It is now the world’s largest event dedicated to content and service providers. There are 18 new showcasing companies including Philotech, LiteAir Aviation Products and Otonomy Aviation, alongside 100 existing exhibitors in the Zone.”

Last year, over 16,000 folks visited the expo and this year we expect no less. In fact, see what the folks at AIX are saying; “AIX is part of the Passenger Experience Week, which also includes the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo, co-located with AIX at the Hamburg Messe from 4th – 6th April.  Organized by Reed Exhibitions, some 20,000 visitors are expected to register to attend Passenger Experience Week. The first of the events taking place at the Hamburg Messe during Passenger Experience Week is the renowned Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 3rd April. The event is dedicated to the future of the passenger experience industry and incorporates a broad choice of presentations and panel discussions on the key themes of generating revenue, the connected journey and comfort and wellbeing. Leading speakers on these topics come from inside and outside the passenger experience industry including Dick Powell, the Chairman of design agency Seymourpowell, Paul Edwards, head of Industrial Design at Airbus and Blake Emery, Direction Differentiation Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.”

AIX also mentioned: “New to the PEC this year is the Airline Breakfast Forum. This addition presents an opportunity for airline attendees to network, debate informally with their peers about issues relevant to improving the passenger experience in their businesses and to share best practice insights. Attendees at the Airline Breakfast Forum will also be invited to a keynote by Jeff James, vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute.”

Polly Magraw, Event Director of the Aircraft Interiors Expo, noted: “2017 is set to be a landmark year for AIX, with record growth from both new and existing exhibitors, much of it in our burgeoning IFEC zone. With such a wealth of companies exhibiting at the show, and more than 1,000 airline executives expected to attend, it’s no surprise that AIX is becoming firmly established as the event that sets the agenda for the aircraft interiors sector.”

Additionally, we should note that CabinSpace LIVE, a theater style series of seminars where visitors can learn and be inspired on a variety of pressing issues within the IFEC, Interiors and MRO sectors, will also be taking place during AIX. And by the way, Passenger Experience Week also incorporates the 11th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 4th April, with seven award categories that celebrate the most innovative ideas in cabin design and technology.

(Editor’s Note: This is the Big One and we hope our readers come to Hamburg – and for US visitors, we hope you can get back in the USA…”)


QANTAS & NETFLIX

Netflix has announced plans to offer in-flight on-demand entertainment from its app with every Qantas flight, allowing passengers to stream live sports, news and TV shows for three days without a subscription. Qantas passengers on Wi-Fi equipped flights will be able to binge-watch Netflix and stream songs from Spotify. The midair entertainment game-changer will be delivered over high-speed Wi-Fi, which Qantas claimed would be “10 times faster” than its rivals, and will be available on one Boeing 737 late this month, with the rest of the fleet following in June – and yes, you need an App. Also we note that under the scheme, Foxtel television will offer passengers three days of free streaming, while Netflix and Spotify offer 30-day free trials as long as passengers subscribe. By the way, there will be no seat back screens onboard so you will need your own device. Stay Tuned on this one, it could be a world wide game changer.


BIOMETRICS

A new biometrics-based seamless passenger-walkthrough in Schiphol Airport will modernize passenger journey experience in the scope of the ongoing Digital Airport Program. Schiphol Airport selected Vision-Box, the Passenger Experience leaders responsible for processing over 200 million passengers per year at borders worldwide, to take up the challenge. New technology will be tested from 2017 to offer passengers a seamless experience, increase throughput and eliminate bottlenecks, thus enhancing capacity within the existing footprint!


SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE AIRLINES signed LOI to order 19 more (now 49) Trent-powered 787-10s for delivery from FY20/21 and 20 GE9X- powered 777-9s for delivery from FY21/22, and option six 787-10s and six 777-9s. Noted Boeing: “The 787-10 is the third member of the super-efficient, passenger-pleasing 787 Dreamliner family. With its greater passenger and cargo capacity, high degree of commonality and passenger-pleasing features, the 787-10 will complement the family while setting a new benchmark for fuel efficiency and operating economics – 25 percent better fuel per seat and emissions than the airplanes than the competition it will replace. Since its introduction, the 787 Dreamliner has opened more than 130 new city pairs, connecting the world as never before.”


AIRBUS

AIRBUS plans to donate four of its flight test aircraft to the Museum of Air and Space in Paris-Le Bourget and Aeroscopia in Toulouse: A320 (001), A340-600 (360), A380 (002), and A380 (004), which as first of the four will arrive in Paris on Feb 14.


VTS

According to Web Barth: “The world’s largest selling digital player just got even better – VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is introducing a new DVP digital player that will solve problems with videotape drives for entertainment and PRAMS while adding an optional Moving Map.

He went on: “VTS had maintained old videotape players and drives for many airlines around the world since the 1980s and has firsthand experience with the problems & expense of videotape including: Videotape shortages & tape replacement due to video/sound degradation, Videotape Logistics (collecting, accounting, sending/receiving), and the growing videotape player, drive maintenance expense

To solve these problems, VTS introduced the first “Plug and Play” digital drive replacements for all existing VHS Reproducers/Hi8 Players.

“VTS DVP was the first player to meet the ‘form, fit and function’ criteria: “Slide out VHS player, slide in DVP Digital Player, turn new system on. See for yourself, continued Web.

“The new VTS DVP digital player can improve cabin wide video and an audio performance to modern day expectations; eliminate maintenance expense and logistics problems associated with tape drive units. Further it can eliminate the problem of tape driven PRAMS combining the ease of digital audio as well as companion video to go along with the prerecorded announcement and music. They come with a moving map feature to bring the existing IFE to better than new.” VTS believes there is no more affordable or faster means of making an older IFE system better than new. You can contact VTS via webbarth@vts.global.com


INDUSTRY GROWTH

The Airline Monitor expects unprecedented 7-year run of >6% annual growth to soon come to an end; in effect, that above average traffic growth will continue independently, so when it doesn’t – deliveries will have to decline.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress saw this coming and can you guess what might be the cause?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2016 Air Transport News Awards recognize SITA’s leadership and innovation

Geneva | March 29, 2016– For the second year in a row, the Air Transport News (ATN) Awards have recognized air transport IT specialist, SITA, as the ‘IT Company of the Year’. The 2016 award was based on SITA’s significant leadership and innovation in developing solutions that transform air travel through technology.

Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA said: “Winning this award two years in a row is a significant achievement and a strong validation of our unwavering collaboration and contribution to the air transport community. SITA works with nearly every airline and airport in the world, so for them to select us as the IT leader in air transport is really a testament to the value we bring to the community.”

SITA provides the broadest portfolio of solutions for the air transport industry all around the world. The fast pace of technology has driven substantial changes to both the passenger experience and industry operations in recent years with SITA leading the way. This includes solutions such as SITA’s iBorders Border Management that helps governments modernize border security and facilitate the travel experience. By integrating biometrics into existing airport common-use infrastructure and airline and government systems, SITA is making the passenger journey simple, fast and secure.

In addition, SITA’s API platform, Developer.aero, is now widely recognized as the provider of the industry’s key APIs enabling game-changing innovations for passenger experience, airport management, flight operations, and the connected aircraft.

SITA’s commitment to the industry and ongoing innovation is also reflected in its investment in the SITA Lab, its strategic technology research arm. Working with airlines and airports, the Lab explores emerging technology on behalf of the air transport community in areas including artificial intelligence, big data, wearable tech and the ‘Internet of Things’. While SITAONAIR is working with airlines to realize the full potential of the connected aircraft, including setting the benchmark for true nose-to-tail connected aircraft solutions for both airlines and passengers.

ATN has a strong subscription base of more than 42,000. Award winners were selected by the website’s readers based on two months of online voting and validated by a jury of industry leaders. SITA also won the ATN IT Company of the Year award in 2013.

The award was presented to SITA on 26 March at an Air Transport News event held in Salzburg, Austria.