While IT budgets have stayed largely flat in 2021, airport and airline CIOs are betting on technology to support their recovery from COVID-19, with a significant increase in spending on digitalization and sustainability as key priorities by 2024. This is according to new findings from SITA’s 2021 Air Transport IT Insights, which represents the views of more than 180 IT airport and airline decision makers across 45 countries.
The majority of airlines (84%) and airports (81%) expect to spend the same or more in 2022 compared to 2021, with spending on automation of passenger processing seeing a significant rise. This compares to 56% of airlines and 67% of airports that planned investment in automated passenger service in 2021.
This year’s IT Insights identifies passenger health certificate verification as an area for urgent attention as airlines and airports invest in digitizing the process. During 2021, staff across 81% of airlines resorted to performing manual verifications of health certificates in paper or scanned format. However, airlines want to automate the process over the next three years, with the majority investing in verification via a mobile app (51%) and nearly half investing in kiosk-enabled health checks (45%).
Digital passenger health certification is also an urgent requirement for airports with a need to standardize approaches to verification. To accommodate growing passenger traffic and anticipated congestion, nearly half of major airports surveyed plan to implement mobile app-enabled verification. Almost a third have plans for verification through kiosks by 2024.
Airline investment is also increasing in areas such as self-service through mobile services, unassisted bag drop, boarding gates, and bag notifications. Touchless and low-touch technologies stay firmly in the investment mix, combined with investments in passenger identity management driven by biometrics. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of airports now invest in biometric identity management solutions for passengers to drive safety and efficiency in the era of COVID-19.
The SITA survey found that sustainability is also a critical concern area for airlines and airports.