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APEX Insight: Airlines and airports are set to invest nearly $33 billion in IT this year. Cybersecurity tops that spend, with 95% of airlines and 96% of airports intend to invest in major programs or R&D on cybersecurity initiatives over the next three years.

Cybersecurity, cloud services and passenger self-service are identified as the air transport industry’s top three information technology (IT) priorities in SITA’s 2017 Air Transport IT Trends Insights, with airlines and airports set to invest nearly $33 billion in IT this year. According to the report, which was released today, airlines’ IT spend will rise to an estimated 3.30% or $24.3 billion in 2o17; for airports, the rise is expected to reach 5.05% or $8.43 billion.

It’s hardly surprising – in an age where online crime and the ongoing threat of terrorism are ever-present – that cybersecurity tops that spend: 95% of airlines and 96% of airports intend to invest in major programs or R&D on cybersecurity initiatives over the next three years.

“Cyber attacks are a very real threat in the highly interwoven air transport industry so building solid defenses is essential.” – Ilya Gutlin, SITA

“The air transport industry is going through digital transformation and focusing its attention on protecting the business and passengers; making it more efficient; and improving the passenger experience” said Ilya Gutlin, president, Air Travel Solutions at SITA. “Cyber attacks are a very real threat in the highly interwoven air transport industry so building solid defenses is essential”.

SITA’s research was co-sponsored by Airports Council International (ACI), whose director, Airport Customer Experience and Technology, Antoine Rostworowski, points out that “ACI and IATA have joint initiatives such as Automated Border Control, end-to-end baggage tracking (Facilitation), Data Exchange, Common-Use (Airport IT) and Smart Security.”

At FTE Global 2017, which kicks off today in Las Vegas, SITA CTO Jim Peters will chair the “Personalization Symposium” which, with the help of speakers from Aeromexico, Microsoft, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Salesforce and others, will analyze artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, digital personal assistants, apps, big data and privacy.

To complement the discussions, SITA’s booth will demonstrate Leo, a fully autonomous and self-propelling baggage robot; mixed reality – a new way to visualize and interact with an airport’s operational data using HoloLens; as well as “Cloud” — passenger processing for any airline, at any airport, on any device.