• RFID technology will significantly reduce mishandled baggage rates

Dubai | October 19,2016– The global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which can accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the journey, can enable the air transport industry to save more than US$3 billion over the next seven years.

Global IT provider SITA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that the highly accurate tracking rates of RFID technology could reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25% by 2022, mainly through efficient tracking. The SITA/IATA Business Case released today at the IATA World Passenger Symposium taking place in Dubai, outlines how this will provide a major saving for airlines and deliver more certainty for passengers.

In particular, RFID will address mishandling during transfer from one flight to another, one of the key areas identified by SITA and IATA where the technology could help improve baggage handling rates. RFID technology will ensure that airports, airlines and ground handlers are able to keep track of bags at every step of the journey and ensure the right bag is loaded onto the correct flight. The technology also supports IATA’s Resolution 753 that requires by 2018 airlines keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish.

The deployment of RFID would build on the already significant savings delivered by the smart use of technology for baggage management. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2016, technology has helped reduce the number of mishandled bags by 50% from a record 46.9 million mishandled bags in 2007, saving the industry US$ 22.4 billion. This improvement comes despite a sharp rise in passenger numbers over the same period.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer at SITA, said: “The airline industry is on the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking. Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation – passengers will be happier, operations will run smoother and airlines will save billions of dollars.”

Andrew Price, Head of Global Baggage Operations at IATA said: “Over the past few years we have seen more work to help airlines introduce and reap the benefits of RFID technology through better oversight of their baggage operations. This has included trials and of course the Delta Air Lines implementation. The advances in the technology and the immense benefits it brings to the airline industry has prompted IATA to revisit and fully explore the benefits of RFID today.”

Initial deployments of RFID by airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, show a 99 percent success rate for tracking bags, helping further reduce the number of mishandled bags.

David Hosford, manager of baggage performance strategy at Delta Air Lines said: “We are investing in RFID to further improve our baggage handling rates and improve the customer experience. RFID technology provides us with more data and more precise tracking information throughout the baggage journey.”

The SITA/IATA business case shows that the improvements in handling rates do not come at a great cost. RFID capabilities can be deployed for as little US$0.1 per passenger on average while generating expected savings of more than US$0.2 per passenger. With some big airlines and airports already introducing RFID technology, combined with the fact that it is compatible with existing barcode technology, adoption of RFID across all airports could provide a positive return for airlines, both in cost savings and passenger satisfaction.

SITA’s and IATA’s assumptions are based on RFID being deployed in 722 airports (representing 95% of passenger numbers globally) over a six-year period between 2016 and 2021 while the savings are calculated over seven years to 2022. The figures for 2016 take into account the RFID infrastructure already deployed or about to be deployed at multiple induction points on the baggage journey.

SITA’s research into RFID and baggage tracking is part of its ongoing investment in research for the benefit of the entire air transport community. Baggage tracking is one of the five community research programs that SITA has launched to address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges. The others are identity management; the facilitation of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC); an industry-wide disruption warning system; and enhancing cybersecurity across the industry.

Hong Kong | June 16, 2015– Hong Kong International Airport is leading the way in Asia Pacific with trials of beacons to provide key information directly to passengers’ mobile devices, to further improve their journey through the airport. SITA Lab, the technology research team for global IT provider SITA, has installed more than fifty beacons in Terminal 1 at Hong Kong International Airport for one of these innovative trials.

Beacon technology triggers the display of location-relevant information on devices at the right time and in the right situation. With beacons, airports and airlines can provide passengers with indoor directions, walk times to gates, lounge access and alerts about boarding. Knowing where a passenger is before sending information enables more effective communication.

During the trial at Hong Kong International Airport, SITA is using best-in-class interactive maps to guide passengers along typical pathways between public transport points, check-in counters, immigration, Automated People Mover, boarding/arrival gates and baggage claim areas. These user-friendly maps display key information on passengers’ mobile phones or tablets, and the time it will take to get to the gate. They also provide information about shops, restaurants and retail offers.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “Hong Kong International Airport puts huge emphasis on the passenger experience. It is no surprise that it is one of the first airports in the region to work with our team at SITA Lab to adopt such an innovative approach to help passengers make the most of their time in the airport. As part of our community approach to help improve the industry, we frequently work with airports to trial new technology and innovations that help improve efficiency and enhance customer services.”

Beacons can help reduce congestion and bottlenecks, improving the passenger flow in airports by giving passengers accurate and timely information. In turn, that leads to smoother boarding and more on-time departures. Providing way-finding information also means that passengers know how long it will take to get to the gate, increasing the time they spend in the retail area, which is good news for the airport’s tenants.

Gutlin continued: “Beacon technology is a win-win for passengers, airlines and airports. Clearly knowing where you are and how long it will take to get to the next stage of your journey makes the experience much more relaxing. Everyone benefits when passengers are enjoying themselves.”

SITA is leading the way in the development of beacon technology for airports. As part of its role of providing value to the air transport community, SITA has established the Common-Use Beacon Registry. Using this directory, airlines, retailers and other service-providers across the world can provide beacon-based services over shared infrastructure. As well as reducing the cost of installing beacons, the IT is simpler and eliminates the need for everyone to manage their own beacons.

  • Are passengers, airports and airlines aligned?

London | February 24, 2015– The ‘connected passenger’ has become a reality, with 97% of airline passengers carrying at least one personal electronic device. But global usage rates indicate passengers have been slow to adopt new airline and airport mobile services when traveling. Deeper analysis however, shows that some industry players are bucking the trend and achieving high levels of usage. This is according to The Future is Personal, the latest industry report from SITA, the leading global IT provider to the air transport industry.

SITA’s industry insights are based on in-depth research directly with more than 6,000 passengers; carried out at 106 airports across the world which handled 2.35 billion passengers last year and with airlines that together carried more than half the world’s passenger traffic. The research shows airlines have made significant investments in mobile services over the past four years as smartphone adoption surged and the majority now enable passengers to buy tickets, check-in and access flight information via smartphone apps. Meanwhile half of the worlds’ airports also provide flight information via apps.

Still global rollout and adoption is proving to be slower and more complex than was anticipated. Half of passengers are keen to use their mobiles to find their way around the airport, access lounges or the aircraft, provide identification at checkpoints, or make payments. The reality is though, that despite these and other services, including mobile check-in and boarding passes provided by airlines, 24% of passengers have not yet used travel apps at all on their journey.

Nigel Pickford, Director Market Insight, SITA, said: “At a glance, airlines and airports might be discouraged by the slower than expected global usage rates but this hides the huge success that some airlines and airports are experiencing. Our analysis has shown that the successful ’outliers’, be they airports or airlines, are focusing on providing excellent customer service experiences that their passengers want. They are harnessing new technologies to give personalized services at the right moment of the journey.”

SITA’s report details the desire for passengers to experience personalized services throughout their journey and explains how personalization is now expected both on the ground and in-flight. This era of continuous engagement means that passengers also expect to be kept informed during periods of disruption and given the ability to manage the changing circumstances of their journey.

The Future is Personal combines SITA’s global research with commentary and cases studies from airports and airlines that have focused particularly on using mobile services to improve the passenger experience to great success. Those featured include Alaska Airlines, easyJet, Emirates, JetBlue, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, SWISS, Cork Airport, Dubai Airports, Frankfurt Airport, Miami Airport, and Toronto Pearson International.

For further details download SITA’s full report – The Future is Personal.