Air traffic is predicted to more than double in the next 20 years. For airports around the world, many of which are already struggling with current volumes of passengers, escalating passenger numbers mean they either need to expand their terminals or find new ways of processing passengers.
The challenge is that the options for physical airport expansion for many city-based airports will be limited. However technology – in the form of flexible, centralised common systems – is proving able to alleviate the pressure on airports amidst this surging growth in airport traffic.
New centralised common use solutions that work across airlines and can be used inside or outside airport terminals are opening up a range of innovative ways to check in and process far higher numbers of passengers than ever before.
These new systems remove the shackles previously placed on airport passenger processing, allowing airports to move check-ins outside the confines of the terminal, freeing up space for other passenger amenities.
New approaches to passenger processing
Flexible common use systems allow for concepts such as drive-through check-ins, where a lane is built alongside the main road into the airport - people pull in, drop off their bags, and then continue on to the terminal straight away.
These systems also allow for remote check-in and bag drops at large events or holiday destinations. The Olympics in Rio for example, would have been a great place to have an onsite check-in, Olympians and spectators alike could have dropped off their bags at the stadium on the day of their departure and head over to the airport in their own time.Similar arrangements would work on cruise ships, at festivals and at other major conferences or events.
Concepts such as drive-through and remote check in would reduce the number of operations at the terminal, free up space, increase capacity, lower costs and will be highly convenient for travellers who can travel baggage-free to and through the terminal.
The benefit of a cloud-first approach
Another key advantage of using centralised systems is that all information is stored and accessed from the cloud, enabling airport managers, ground handling staff and other stakeholders to have a holistic view of check in information from across terminals and check in desks – and to access this information from any laptop, PC or mobile device anywhere in the world.
Reducing an airline’s reliance on expensive, traditional network connections is also now a possibility. It’s no longer the case that each airline needs a separate wide area network link to each airport at which it operates.
The network topology of cloud-based systems means the cloud provider acts as an intermediary, and in specific cases where that provider hosts airline systems, the carrier just needs to connect once to its cloud partner. This can greatly reduce a complex and costly spaghetti of networks for both airlines and airports.
Having a centralised system allows an airport to be more agile and able to react efficiently to the ebbs and flows in demand from fixed or mobile workstations.
The ability for airline partners to create new routes or cease existing routes within days enables airports to be more cost-effective and efficient and as a result more attractive to airlines.
Traditionally, integrating a new airline into an airport’s common use set-up was one of the more time-consuming aspects needed to enable a route to go live.
Improving the experience for customers is an important factor for airports and an area that centralised common use systems can help to improve, not least by enabling airports to make substantial cost savings compared to traditional common use systems through eliminating the need to maintain or power conventional on-site servers.
In-turn, airports can provide a better customer experience, investing the increased profit into new products, services or equipment.
New common use systems hosted in the cloud provide benefits for airports, airlines, ground handlers and travellers, making passenger processing quicker, simpler and cheaper.
As air traffic continues to rise with little hope for large scale capital investment programmes technology affords airports the opportunity to re-think traditional approaches to passenger processing.
Surely that’s good for all stakeholders at the airport, not least travellers themselves?