Latest industry data reveals that both airports and airlines experienced an increase in their IT expenditure compared to the previous year, with estimated amounts of $10.8 billion and $34.5 billion respectively.
Furthermore, more than two-thirds of airport and airline CIOs anticipate further growth in IT spending throughout 2024.
Notably, airports also allocated a higher proportion of their revenue towards IT investments in 2022 and 2023, even amidst a rise in travel demand, highlighting the pivotal role that technology will play in shaping the future of the travel industry.
According to SITA‘s Air Transport IT Insights report for 2023, the top investment priorities for aviation CIOs involve implementing a passenger journey that utilizes biometrics, harnessing data to enhance operational efficiencies, and adopting green solutions to optimize energy consumption and reduce emissions.
In 2023, more than 50% of airlines and airports have utilized IT solutions to enhance efficiency during check-in, baggage tagging, and boarding processes. Biometric technology is increasingly being adopted to alleviate congestion, with 70% of airlines projected to implement biometric ID management by 2026, while 90% of airports are actively investing in significant programs or research and development related to biometrics.
To enhance operational efficiency and minimize disruptions, CIOs are actively seeking innovative solutions for operations alongside passenger processing advancements. Embracing IT solutions such as business intelligence (BI), artificial intelligence, and data sharing, CIOs aim to streamline processes for both passengers and staff while safeguarding operational effectiveness.
In the next three years, the aviation industry will make its largest technology investments in Business Intelligence (BI), with 73% of airlines committing to major programs. The majority of airports and airlines currently collect and integrate data, and they are now turning to generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to harness this data and derive valuable insights. Given that improving operational efficiency through data utilization is considered a significant business challenge by most industry players, it is logical that 97% of airlines and 82% of airports are planning to invest in AI by 2026.
As passenger demand for air travel continues to rebound, reaching levels beyond pre-pandemic figures in certain areas, airlines and airports have taken valuable lessons from the congestion and disruptions experienced in the previous two years. Through the utilization of advanced data sharing and analytics tools, they can bring together various stakeholders and uncover possibilities for enhanced efficiency and streamlined operations. Innovative solutions such as total airport management and BI for passenger processing offer real-time insights into asset management and passenger flow, empowering airports and airlines to swiftly and collaboratively address any disruptions.
Smart IT to improve sustainability
Sustainability is a top priority, with the industry focusing on achieving significant carbon reduction targets and complying with emissions regulations. CIOs are actively seeking technology solutions that can effectively reduce emissions.
By 2026, the use of IT to enhance flight operations and aircraft turnaround is expected to be implemented by more than 90% of airlines. Over half of them have already integrated IT systems to optimize various aspects of flights, including aircraft taxiing, takeoff/landing, and cruise phases. Furthermore, almost all airlines anticipate having these IT solutions fully operational by 2026.
Airport operators prioritize building and energy management systems to gain a comprehensive understanding of emissions and identify opportunities for emission reduction. The investment in energy management systems is projected to experience the highest growth rate among all airport sustainability initiatives, with more than half of airports planning to implement these systems by 2026.
In consideration of the goal to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, airlines and airports are implementing essential measures to decrease their carbon footprint. They are embracing digital solutions to precisely monitor and optimize energy usage and emissions.