SITA – a Corporate Partner of the FTE Digital, Innovation & Startup Hub and a Strategic Partner of the FTE Baggage Innovation Working Group – has published its 2023 Air Transport IT Insights report. It finds that both airports and airlines saw IT spend increase year-on-year into 2023, reaching an estimated US$10.8 billion and US$34.5 billion respectively, with over two-thirds of airport and airline CIOs expecting continued growth into 2024. Airports also boosted IT spend as a percentage of revenue in 2022 and 2023 even as business benefitted from an uptick in travel demand, signalling just how crucial a role technology will play in the next-generation travel experience.
Aviation CIOs’ key investment priorities include a biometrically-enabled passenger journey, leveraging data to unlock operational efficiencies, and green solutions to optimise energy consumption and emissions.
Airlines and airports have made strides in optimising the passenger experience, with over half having implemented IT to improve efficiency across check-in, bag tag, and boarding in 2023. Biometrics are becoming commonplace to help curb congestion, with 70% of airlines expecting to have biometric ID management in place by 2026, and 90% of airports investing in major programmes or R&D in this area.
Business Intelligence (BI) is the biggest area of technology investment for airlines in the coming three years, with 73% investing in major programmes. Nearly two-thirds of airports and airlines collect and integrate data, and with the rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), they are now looking to AI and Machine Learning to leverage this data and generate insights. With most citing the “use of data to improve operational efficiency” as at least somewhat of a business challenge, it makes sense that 97% of airlines and 82% of airports are investing in AI by 2026.
“As we approach a full recovery of passenger demand for air travel, with domestic travel even surpassing pre-pandemic levels in some regions, airlines and airports have learned from the congestion and disruptions seen in the past two years,” said David Lavorel, CEO, SITA. “Advanced data-sharing and analytics tools will allow them to unite stakeholders and identify opportunities for greater efficiency and leaner operations. Solutions like total airport management and BI for passenger processing provide airports and airlines real-time insight into the management of assets and passenger flow, allowing for agile, collaborative responses to any disruptions.”
The SITA 2023 Air Transport IT Insights research was conducted from August to November 2023. It represents the views of over 250 senior airline and airport executives, covering a quarter of global passenger traffic.