Sergio Collela, president for Europe, SITA, presents during the 2019 SITA Euro IT Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Image: Stephanie Taylor

At the 2019 SITA Euro IT Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, SITA revealed the findings of its 2019 Air Transport IT Insights report.

During a press briefing on the report, head of SITA Insights Christie Laverriere summed up its most important takeaways. As well as the total IT spend for the air transport industry reaching $50 billion in 2018, Laverriere explained, “for the first time we have seen a convergence in the IT spending priorities of airlines and airports.”

She went on to highlight that one of these shared spending priorities is “passenger flow management” – perhaps because both parties are already seeing improvements to passenger satisfaction as a result of their investments in this area.

According to SITA, 63 percent of airport chief information officers (CIOs) and 60 percent of airline CIOs that have invested in passenger flow management witnessed an improvement of up to 20 percent in 2018 passenger satisfaction ratings compared to the previous year. Both factions also saw an increase in average passenger processing speeds.

Much of the investment in passenger flow management revolves around wait time monitoring and wait time communication. SITA’s report states that by 2022, 54 percent of airports are looking at providing wait times to passenger mobile devices and 37 percent hope to provide it specifically within the airport app; while 74 percent of airlines also hope to provide wait time information in their apps. Additionally, both are increasingly investing in screens showing real-time wait information.

Other forms of passenger processing solutions tend to be more relevant to airlines than airports. For example, the report identified that 79 percent of airlines hope to have implemented solutions around the “mobile electronic capture of requirements for pre-boarding,” versus 36 percent of airports. Similarly, 68 percent of airlines hope to have off-airport passenger processing solutions by 2022, compared to 34 percent of airports.

Nonetheless, for Matthys Serfontein, SITA’s president of Air Travel Solutions, these shared priorities, together with the fact airlines and airports are serving the same customer – the passenger – is an obvious reason to “share data that is of common operational interest.” He used the aircraft turnaround process, which typically involves 20 stakeholders, as an example of something that could benefit greatly from a more collaborative approach.

Another takeaway from the report revealed by Laverriere was “a confirmation that passenger processing automation correlates with passenger satisfaction.”

SITA categorizes passenger processing and passenger flow management as “business intelligence,” as their purpose is to collect and provide useful insights for both operations and the passenger. Business intelligence ranked as the third most important overall area of investment, with 95 percent of airlines and 88 percent of airports planning major programs or research and development initiatives by 2020.

If SITA’s 2019 Air Transport IT Insights report is anything to go by, this means traveler satisfaction should be set to continue improving in the coming years.