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RFID technology to reduce mishandled luggage volumes by 25%

Air transport IT provider SITA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have revealed that the tracking accuracy of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology could reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25% by 2022, saving the aviation industry up to US$3bn.

RFID technology can accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the journey, including addressing mishandled luggage during transfer from one flight to another. The technology also supports IATA’s Resolution 753, which requires airlines to keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish by 2018.

According to the SITA Baggage Report 2016, new technologies have helped reduce the number of mishandled bags by 50% from a record 46.9 million mishandled bags in 2007, saving the industry US$22.4bn. The deployment of RFID would further build on this progress.

Jim Peters, chief technology officer at SITA, said, “The airline industry is on the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking. Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation – passengers will be happier, operations will run smoother and airlines will save billions of dollars.”

Andrew Price, head of global baggage operations at IATA, said, “Over the past few years we have seen more work to help airlines introduce and reap the benefits of RFID technology through better oversight of their baggage operations. This has included trials and of course the Delta Air Lines implementation. The advances in the technology and the immense benefits it brings to the airline industry has prompted IATA to revisit and fully explore the benefits of RFID today.”

Initial deployments of RFID by airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, show a 99% success rate for tracking bags. The SITA/IATA business case shows that RFID capabilities can be deployed for as little as US$0.10 per passenger on average while generating expected savings of more than US$0.20 per passenger.

With some big airlines and airports already introducing RFID technology, combined with the fact that it is compatible with existing barcode technology, adoption of RFID across all airports could provide a positive return for airlines, both in cost savings and passenger satisfaction.

David Hosford, manager of baggage performance strategy at Delta Air Lines, said, “We are investing in RFID to further improve our baggage handling rates and improve the customer experience. RFID technology provides us with more data and more precise tracking information throughout the baggage journey.”

October 19, 2016


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