Airlines and airports are anticipating the same or an increase in spend in 2022 versus last year according to a report.
SITA’s 2021 Air Transport IT Insights study reveals 61% of airlines see IT investment increasing this year while 55% of airports expect to spend more.
Airline spend in 2021 hit approximately $31 billion, up on 2020’s figure of $29 billion as well as an increase on the anticipated $21 billion.
Airport technology investment also increased last year to about $5 billion compared with $4 billion in 2020.
The top three technology investment priorities for airlines in 2022 remain cybersecurity, cloud services and mobile application services for passengers.
According to Sergio Colella, SITA’s president for Europe, other IT services such as mobile applications for pilots and business intelligence are climbing the ranks in terms of priority reflecting the need for digitalization of the aircraft and cockpit to further drive efficiency.
For airports, cybersecurity and cloud services again mirror the top priorities cited in last year’s report although self-service solutions for passengers has replaced business intelligence this year.
Colella says: “As the industry enters the recovery phase, airports are also placing new IT services at the forefront as they focus on offering seamless health and safety solutions to enhance the passenger experience, while optimizing resources and infrastructure as air traffic picks up but remains volatile.”
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In addition to the focus on digital solutions, sustainability is also cited as a key priority by chief information officers from airlines and airports over the next three years.
The SITA report says that the use of new technology and telecommunications to help airlines in their sustainability efforts was a new priority in 2021.
The research reveals that 56% of airlines have already implemented technologies such as flight path optimization and 32% plan to implement by 2024.
Airlines also want to automate the health verification process amid reports of long queues at airports because of new pandemic-driven processes.
The study shows that just over half of airlines (51%) are investing in verification via mobile app while almost half, 45%, are investing in kiosk-enabled health checks, between now over the next three years.
Most carriers are prioritizing automated health verification processes at check-in followed by boarding and transit areas.
Airlines were criticized last year for failing to be in line with consumers’ digital expectations and Colella agrees that passengers want the same digital experience when they travel as they have in other parts of their lives.
“Airlines, airports and governments must accelerate their adoption of digital ways of working. Simplicity and authorization must be built into the journey, through digital processes that ensure effective coordination and standard approaches among stakeholders.”
A further SITA report from July last year said automation would be the only way for the industry to tackle the challenges of recovery.
Colella adds that concerns around meeting consumer expectations are top of mind for the industry as demonstrated in the latest report.
“The pandemic has clearly forced our industry to re-focus on the passenger journey as a near walkthrough digital experience, which is automated, safe, touchless or low-contact. Here we see a huge focus on biometrics for example with 45% of airports planning a major programme in 2022.
“Similarly, airlines plan to continue investing in emerging technologies. The top four priorities are unchanged, with a focus on data management and business models through business intelligence software (78%), data exchange technologies (70%), artificial intelligence (82%).”