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New technology trends shape the future airport

Last updated on 21/01/2020

To accommodate the additional 2.1 billion annual passengers by 2036 expected to arrive in Asia, airport operators will have to look to automation and new technology to maximise the capacity of existing infrastructure.

Travel industry leaders were asked, in a recent report by Amadeus, which technology trends they felt would shape the future of airports.

1. Automation for better management of passenger growth
“Automation of services will facilitate a smoother flow of passengers in, through and around the airport, easing congestion. They also offer a more personalized service in the process. For example, automatic bag drops allow passengers to retrieve their booking biometrically instead of using a boarding pass, saving valuable seconds that would otherwise compound as hundreds of passengers check their bags onto flights. Less congestion across these touchpoints will allow the airport of the future to become more experiential, offering passengers more time to explore retail and entertainment options throughout the terminal,” said Dr Thomas Landgrebe, senior software engineer, ICM Airport Technics.

2. Off-site passenger handling will become an industry standard
New technology is allowing more opportunities for off-site passenger handling which will ease up airport capacity constraints. Many airports are already using the cloud to enable pop-up check-in and baggage drop services.

“To cope with the rising passenger numbers, airports will have to use cloud-based technology to alleviate the congestion of passenger processing. We’ve been using the cloud to roll out our ‘pop-up’ check-in kiosks, which we can deploy in any location that’s convenient for the passenger. The main benefit being these are scalable according to demand and require no new infrastructure investment. In the future, we’re going to see off-airport services become the norm, while check-in halls are reduced and repurposed,” said Matt Lee, CEO of OACIS.

3. Biometrics will become integrated across all touchpoints
More investments will likely be made in biometric technologies as airports look to increase throughput while streamlining the passenger journey, creating a frictionless experience at every touchpoint.

“As other airport processes are becoming more modernised and efficient; processes around the airport, such as security, are beginning to develop bottlenecks throughout the terminal. In fact, we’re seeing some travellers choose flights based on queuing times. Fortunately, the uptake of biometric technology has the ability to ease the pressure across multiple touchpoints across the airport,” said Faisal Ariff, founder and CEO of BorderPass.

4. Greener airports will become more important in the coming years
As with most segments of the industry, being green will be par for the course. In response, stakeholders are constantly exploring ways to offset emissions and become more environmentally sustainable.

“Cloud technology presents the industry with a method to dramatically reduce emissions. Airports run servers and data centres through the terminal which are consuming a large amount of electricity. The cloud allows airports to remove the energy-consuming hardware and centralise this, meaning airports have the ability to significantly reduce their carbon emissions,” said Sarah Samuel, head of airport IT, Amadeus Asia Pacific.

5. Scalability will be crucial at peak travel periods
The cloud will afford airports more flexibility and scalability, based on demand. At peak times, additional passenger handling services can be rolled out quickly and without the need for any fixed infrastructure as systems connect via the Internet.

“Digitally transforming to create a new airport experience is a common goal for many airports. We’ve been using the cloud to deploy iCUSS check-in kiosks, allowing passengers to check-in from locations outside of the terminal, such as train platforms, hotels, or convention centres. By using the cloud, we’re able to completely revolutionise our airport experience and alleviate the challenges of the customer journey,” said Andy C Bien, chief information officer, Hong Kong Airport.

Featured image: Getty Images