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IT Last modified on September 24, 2015

Time for technology

Montréal-Trudeau is reaping the rewards of deploying advanced technologies and finding new ways of working to improve passenger flows and customer convenience while maintaining high security standards, writes Christiane Beaulieu.

Leveraging technology to enhance the travel experience is the name of the game for Montréal-Trudeau International Airport and its operator, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM).

Located less than 20 killometres from heart of downtown, Montréal–Trudeau is a growing transportation hub for domestic, transborder and international passengers with 30 airlines offering about 80 scheduled destinations and 50 seasonal destinations. 

And it is growing as last year a record 14.8 million passengers passed through its facilities making Montréal-Trudeau Canada’s third busiest airport.

The airport’s growth over the past decade has been enabled by the introduction of a wide range of self-service and other advanced technologies deployed as part of a C$2 billion modernisation and expansion programme. 

Indeed, the airport is a pioneer in self-service check-in; self-tagging baggage; self-service baggage drop-off; automated flow tracking of passengers and baggage; and automated border control (ABC). 

It is also at the industry forefront when it comes to mobile technologies, including 2D boarding passes and SMS alerts, and uses modular architecture and multi-purpose boarding gates to optimise available space. 

“All of these technologies and approaches are playing an integral role in our goal of ensuring a seamless, smooth and smart journey for our passengers,” says ADM’s president and CEO, James Cherry.

He notes that common-use check-in kiosks (CUSSK) are now installed in all sectors of the airport, with their own bag tag printers, while the transborder (Canada-US) sector offers a true common-use generic bag drop available to passengers from any airline, virtually eliminating queuing. 

“More than two-thirds of our passengers currently check in using a self-service option, including a high proportion through the internet as well as through CUSSKs, significantly reducing congestion in the terminal building,” he notes.

ABC kiosks, a high-technology self-service system for clearing customs and immigration are also now being used by a majority of eligible passengers with significant reductions in wait times. 

In 2013, Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks were added for Canadian and American passport holders heading to the United States, reducing process times by 40%.

But the IT journey is only just beginning and Montréal-Trudeau is steadily expanding and enhancing its technology offerings through initiatives ranging from the introduction of free Wi-Fi and real-time SMS alerts to online parking reservations and ‘SecurXpress’.

The latter new service allows passengers to book a predetermined time for security clearance, and has been well received. 

Many of these services are accessible through a new ‘responsive design’ website introduced in 2014 that aims to guarantee an optimum user experience across all devices – i.e. desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. 

The website delivers a modern, user-friendly browsing experience, allowing users to easily find all the information and tools they need to plan a visit to the airport or to catch their next flight.

“Our vision is to leverage and converge technologies and innovations in the next few years to provide a travel experience that is closely tailored to the individual needs of passengers and provide an even more seamless process,” reveals Cherry. 

Already being tested or on the horizon for airports are exciting new concepts such as ‘single passenger tokens’ that use biometrics and barcodes, digital bag tags, home-printed bag tags, automatic check-in at time of ticket purchase, near field communications (NFC), and wearable technologies such as Google glasses and the Apple Watch. 

At the same time, sophisticated data gathering and shared systems will facilitate location-based, two-way, and targeted communication with passengers through beacon or other Bluetooth applications.

“In addition to benefiting our passengers, such technologies promise to generate more non-aeronautical revenues for airport administrators such as ADM,” says Cherry. 

“For example, reduced processing time made possible by technology will give passengers more opportunities to use our increasing array of restaurants, shops and commercial offerings.  

“These new sources of revenues will reduce pressures to increase landing and other aeronautical fees and enhance competitiveness.” 

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