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‘Smart’ moves by airlines, airports growing



More than half of passengers would use their mobiles for flight status, baggage status and airport directions and by 2016 the majority of airlines and airports will offer these services, according to a study.

In total, 100 per cent of airlines and 90 per cent of airports are investing in business intelligence solutions to provide the intelligent information across their operations which these, and other services, demand, says the study “Smart Thinking”, released by Sita today at Capa’s Airlines in Transition Summit in Dublin.

Sita, the IT and communications provider to the air transport community, regularly conducts global research on airports, airlines and passengers. “Smart Thinking” is based on this global research and incorporates additional input from leading airlines and airports including British Airways, Saudia, Dublin Airport Authority, London City Airport and Heathrow.

According to the paper, flight status updates are already a mainstream mobile service and will extend to the vast majority of airlines and airports by the end of 2016. By then, what today are niche services will also be well established.

Bag status updates will be offered by 61pc of airlines; and 79pc of airports will provide status notifications, such as queues times through security and walking time to gate. More than three quarters will also be providing navigation/way-finding at the airport via mobile apps, it said.

Nigel Pickford, director, Market Insight, Sita, said: “Our research has clearly shown that the move to smartphone apps and mobile services is well underway. But many of the services that airlines and airports are planning are heavily dependent on their ability to provide more meaningful data and insight – providing passengers and staff the right information at the right time. Efforts are being made across the industry to collaborate and Sita has established the Business Intelligence Maturity Index to benchmark the progress.”

Pickford continued: “We asked airlines and airports to measure themselves in four categories of business intelligence best practice for this index: Data Access and Management; Infrastructure; Data Presentation; and Governance. Our analysis shows that on average the industry is only halfway to achieving best-in-class and further progress is needed.”

There are ongoing efforts across the industry to establish data standards and ensure system compatibility. Pickford added: “Though the picture is not perfect now, change is coming. All airlines and 90% of airports are planning to make business intelligence investments in the coming three years. Both face the issue though that while passengers are very keen to access information about their journey, they are also sensitive about privacy. The smart use of non-intrusive passenger information however will provide benefits to airlines and passengers.”

Sita’s report describes how today the focus is on building the foundation for business intelligence but looking ahead the combination of business intelligence plus predictive analysis will help improve the passenger experience, while optimizing the use of infrastructure and space at airports.

In the past, airlines and airports had no choice but to react when “irregular” events such as bad weather disrupted their finely-tuned schedules. Using business intelligence they will be more proactive by analysing past events and combining live data feeds from multiple sources to predict future events and take preventative action before they occur. By making the transition from reactive to proactive to preventative there are significant benefits to be gained for passengers and the industry alike, the study said. – TradeArabia News Service

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