Aviation’s US$50 billion investment in IT is paying off

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According to figures released by SITA in its 2019 Air Transport IT Insights report, airlines and airports spent a record US$50 billion in 2018 on IT to support improvements to the passenger journey, and they are now beginning to enjoy the benefit of that investment. The figures show that this investment has resulted in a significant improvement in the satisfaction levels of passengers, as well as average processing times.

The report states that 60% of airline CIOs recorded up to a 20% year-on-year improvement in passenger satisfaction, and during the same period, 45% of them recorded up to 20% improvement in the rate of passengers processed. These returns on investment in technology were also seen at airports, where 63% of CIOs reported a year-on-year improvement of up to 20% in passenger satisfaction levels, while 44% recorded faster passenger processing times. Both airlines and airports also recorded an improvement in their business performance.

Matthys Serfontein, president of SITA’s air travel solutions division said, “The good news is that the growing investment in automating the passenger journey means the industry is providing a faster, more pleasant airport experience. This is a real success story for automating the passenger journey, particularly at a time when we expect passenger numbers to double over the next 20 years, with physical airport infrastructure struggling to keep pace. Technology is key to alleviating the industry’s capacity crunch and avoiding negative impacts on  passengers.”

The report also shows that the aviation industry is continuing to increase its IT spend, reaching US$50 billion in 2018, a figure driven in part by a sharp increase in airline IT spend after several years of virtually flat growth. Total IT spend for airlines as a percentage of revenue rose to 4.84%, while airport IT spend grew to 6.06% of revenue in 2018, according to the report, and SITA’s projections for 2019 show investments will continue to grow.

Serfontein added, “The increase in airline spend over the past year was driven by the larger airlines, which continue to invest to speed-up the pace of digital transformation. Investments in business intelligence and cloud services have emerged as priorities.”

From an operational point of view, airlines and airports are increasingly investing in intelligence to provide real-time and historic views of their operations, allowing them to proactively manage everything from baggage and passenger flows, to aircraft turnaround and the allocation of key assets, such as parking stands and gates.

“Overall, we can see that the industry is focused on improvements to its operations to make it more efficient and facilitate better collaboration with partners and other stakeholders in what is a highly integrated industry, said Serfontein. “This in turn is having a profoundly positive impact on the service they are able to provide to passengers.”

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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