SINGAPORE, 8 February 2024: Airports and airlines saw IT spending increase year on year into 2023, reaching an estimated USD10.8 billion and USD34.5 billion, according to SITA’s 2023 Air Transport IT Insights report, published on Tuesday.
Over two-thirds of airport and airline CIOs expect continued growth into 2024. Key investment priorities include a biometrically enabled passenger journey, leveraging data to unlock operational efficiencies, and green solutions to optimise energy consumption and emissions.
Airlines and airports have made strides in optimising the passenger experience, with over half implementing IT to improve efficiency across check-in, bag tag, and boarding in 2023. Biometrics are becoming commonplace to help curb congestion, with 70% of airlines expecting biometric ID management by 2026 and 90% of airports investing in major programmes or R&D.
CIOs are now looking to supplement passenger processing advancements with innovative solutions on the operations side. To boost efficiency, protect operations against disruption, and streamline processes for both passengers and staff, CIOs are embracing IT solutions for business intelligence (BI), artificial intelligence, and data sharing.
BI is the most significant area of technology investment for airlines in the coming three years, with 73% investing in significant programmes. Nearly two-thirds of airports and airlines collect and integrate data. With the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI), they are now looking to AI and machine learning to leverage this data and generate insights. With most citing the “use of data to improve operational efficiency” as at least somewhat of a business challenge, it makes sense that 97% of airlines and 82% of airports are investing in AI by 2026.
SITA CEO David Lavorel said: “As we approach a full recovery of passenger demand for air travel, with domestic travel even surpassing pre-pandemic levels in some regions, airlines and airports have learned from the congestion and disruptions seen in the past two years. Advanced data sharing and analytics tools will allow them to unite stakeholders and identify opportunities for greater efficiency and leaner operations. Solutions like total airport management and BI for passenger processing provide airports and airlines real-time insight into managing assets and passenger flow, allowing for agile, collaborative responses to disruptions.”
Smart IT to improve sustainability
Sustainability is also high on the agenda, with industry milestones for carbon reduction and emissions regulations coming into view. CIOs are setting their sights on technology solutions that can reduce concrete emissions.
By 2026, over 90% of airlines plan to have IT in place to boost the efficiency of flight operations and aircraft turnaround. More than half have implemented IT to optimise both aircraft taxiing and the takeoff/landing and cruise phases of flights, with nearly all expecting to have this in place by 2026.
On the airport side, building and energy management systems are a key priority for offering a unified view of emissions and opportunities to reduce them. Investment in energy management systems* is expected to grow the most of any airport sustainability initiative, with over half of airports planning this by 2026.
“With industry ambitions to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 in mind, airlines and airports are taking necessary steps towards reducing their carbon footprint, adopting digital tools for accurate monitoring and optimisation of energy consumption and emissions,” Lavorel added.
The SITA 2023 Air Transport IT Insights research was conducted from August to November 2023. It represents the views of over 250 senior airline and airport executives, covering a quarter of global passenger traffic.