Investment in technology, key in airports to recover flights


ACI World has collaborated with SITA for the last 17 years in conducting its annual survey of IT trends in airports, the most comprehensive study of its kind within the global airport industry that, this year, was conducted in the last quarter from 2020 to 180 managers responsible for the technology area at airports in 41 countries. This year’s consultation found that airports have been agile in adapting to changing health and safety requirements, focusing on automated solutions and no contact between customers and staff.

The survey revealed that 87% of airports confirmed that programs have been implemented, or are planned, to address passenger health and safety protocols. These include sensors, video monitoring, and robots to automatically monitor passengers’ social distancing, temperature controls, disinfection, and other health criteria.

Business intelligence tools to help staff maintain a safe airport environment ranked third among airports’ top investments. Contactless self-service offerings have been an unsurprising investment, with a growing number of airports implementing solutions during the pandemic.

Biometric technology is the focus of airport investment with 64% of airports aiming to implement automatic boarding gates using biometric and identification documentation by 2023, three times more than in 2020.

Relevant findings

  • 89% of airports confirmed that they offer self-service check-in options
  • 64% said they have implemented biometric-enabled immigration border gates
  • 79% of respondents said it provided the ability to tag suitcases at kiosks.
  • 77% of airports will implement the infrastructure, or have already done so, to support biometric touchpoints throughout the airport.
  • 67% of airports will implement or will have implemented self-service boarding gates
  • 52% of airports have or plan to implement ACRIS standards for data exchange, and
  • And 83% of airports are implementing a major cybersecurity program and 11% are looking for a pilot program.

Beijing Airport has implemented an experience contactless door to door

The passenger experience

“These findings are encouraging. There is no question that the health and well-being of customers, and their expertise, remain the airports’ top priority. This is not only an investment to meet the demand of the pandemic, but it is in line with a longer-term trend and a solid investment in the future ”, said the general director of ACI, Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

David Lavorel, SITA CEO at Airports and Borders, said: “Faced with a severe slowdown in 2020, the air transport industry was forced to focus on driving new cost efficiencies. To increase the pressure, airlines and airports had to quickly incorporate new sanitary measures and contactless passenger processing. To solve these challenges, the industry has turned to technologies such as biometrics (83% of airports), offering more mobile applications for passengers and staff, and focusing on remote and virtual IT services ”.

For the first time this year, the survey included specific questions about digital transformation. ACI World is working on a manual on the subject to help airports on their digital transformation journey.