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ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, reflects on the benefits of making the optimum use of emerging technologies, processes and design developments.

Passenger and cargo travel processes will need to change dramatically in the near and distant future in light of projected air traffic growth.

Indeed, ACI World forecasts that traffic volumes will exceed 40 billion passengers and 145 million tonnes of cargo by 2029, meaning that airports, airlines and their contractors and suppliers will increasingly be challenged to optimise the use of emerging technologies, processes and design developments.

ACI and its airport members work together with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and their airline members to deliver this future to the coming travellers and shippers.

We seek to provide a seamless journey by sharing data and capability among stakeholders; offering more off-site processing options; reducing or eliminating queues; and providing more efficient use of space and resources through enhanced deployments of artificial intelligence and robotics.

Making better use of data and communications is fundamental to optimising people’s journeys and improving the customer experience.

There is a growing requirement among the aviation community to share flight, baggage and passenger processing information.

Established by ACI, IATA and Eurocontrol in 2009, the Airport Community Recommended Information Services (ACRIS) provides a framework for the exchange of data between stakeholders. Real-time communications are increasing and we now have the opportunity to develop best practices for co-ordinated operations improvement.

Passenger expectations are also evolving. Travellers are becoming increasingly comfortable with digital services and, in fact, expect them to be tailored to their different travel experiences.

And this trend is increasing the possibilities of what can happen in places other than the airport, both from a physical and virtual perspective. For instance, passengers will have more choices and control of the location, timing and process of certain functions related to their journey or shipment, such as check-in or baggage drop-off.

The protection of the public areas of airports through the elimination or reduction of queues is a critical piece of the airport security regime.

A multi-layered, risk-based approach is needed to address this issue, but a fundamental element is airport design. ACI Europe has provided valuable guidance material on this topic, and ACI World is taking this forward into a detailed handbook for publication at the end 2017.

Technologies also play an important role in the elimination or reduction of queues, and initiatives already underway include airport beacons to facilitate wayfinding; biometric smart identification, such as facial recognition, to improve throughput; and improved screening processes, facilitated through the ACI-IATA Smart Security programme.

Automated machines and artificial intelligence will offer more proactive abilities in mitigating accidents or operational flow disturbance.

In the case of a crisis, they have the potential to make better decisions, and are an opportunity for airports to reduce costs. Through self-learning, new intelligent software will be able to predict certain problems and provide corrective measures before an event actually takes place, providing the opportunity to avoid it completely.

Helping our members optimise the use of emerging technologies, processes and design developments is a key priority among ACI and our industry partners.

The culmination of our efforts is to integrate systems and improve operations in the most secure, effective and sustainable manner for the benefit of passengers, shippers and providers alike.

Looking forward, those that are best able to do so will certainly have an advantage over their competitors.


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