SITA has released its annual Airport IT Trends Survey today (October 29) which reveals that the rate of IT investment at airports is set to hit US$8.7bn in 2015, representing 6.25% of total revenues this year. Airport chief information officers (CIOs) are also predicting IT budgets will rise by 64% in 2016 compared to this year.
The report, co-sponsored by ACI and SITA in association with Airline Business, revealed the views of 223 airports worldwide and highlighted a growing determination by more airports to try and address common pain points for passengers.
Speaking at the Europe Aviation ICT Forum 2015 in Athens, Dave Bakker, president of SITA Europe, said, “The results of the survey are encouraging. Investment in technology is up and improvements will be felt by passenger and operators. The Internet of Things is coming and CIOs are investing in smart technology for smart airports.”
One surprising result for SITA was the lack of airports currently investing in wearable technology, with just 4% of airports surveyed conducting major projects in this area. “When I looked at the results, the take up of wearable technology was surprising. There was quite a bit of exploration into that field but it is currently quite low – only 4% for airports are currently doing it. However, there is an indication 20% will be doing some R&D in that field in the next few years,” commented Matthys Serfontein, SITA vice president of airport solutions.
However, investment in beacon technology is on the rise, with 81% of airports investing in beacons and other sensors over the next three years. The survey showed that by 2018, 80% of airports will use beacons to provide wayfinding services and 74% to provide notifications to passengers. By this time, more than 50% of airports will use sensors at various points of the journey including check in, bag drop, security, dwell time and boarding. Mobile services are also on the rise with 91% of airports planning to provide an app for navigating and 83% for real-time notifications.
“Passengers can expect a more predictable journey through the airport, as new features, such as wait times and walk times to the gate, become commonplace. Airports are committed to serving the connected traveler by investing in sensor technology,” Serfontein added.
According to Bakker, the European market is behind its peers in IT investment, spending about half of what airports in the rest of the world spend on technology, “The reasons for this is Europeans were about two years behind the economic crisis so they’re behind in economic recovery also, and the spending is somewhat repressed.
“Europe has a bigger challenge than other regions in dealing with passenger growth in the next 20 years. We’re going to see capacity crisis as there is insufficient infrastructure to cope with growing passenger numbers, so more collaboration is needed.”
The SITA survey revealed that airports are harnessing the power of data to make better and faster decisions by using tools such as collaborative decision making (CDM). Around one third have implemented some kind of local CDM with another 34% planning to do so by the end of 2018.
The more enhanced version, known as A-CDM, where the airport is connected into regional air traffic management, airline and other systems, is also expected to be rolled out by 34% of airports over the next three years, although only 14% of airports have currently adopted it.
“The return on investment that airports will see is that by investing in this kind of technology is great – they can cope with higher passengers volumes while investing less money than would be required for new terminals or runways,” Bakker said. “We do not have much time to prepare for this growth in passenger numbers, so this survey is an absolute call for action to look at where we need to invest and to ensure that CIOs allocate the right budgets to cope with future passenger numbers.”
To read more about the Airport IT Trends Survey 2015 from SITA click here.