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4 ways Amadeus is helping North American airports fly high

Betros Wakim

Senior Vice President Americas, Airport IT, Amadeus

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Today’s airports are in a state of transformation. According to the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), last year more than 1.8 billion passengers arrived at and departed from North America’s airports. To put that in perspective, by the time you finish reading this sentence, six aircraft will have taken off or landed at a North American airport!

On the global stage, North America’s airports remain some of the busiest in the world, handling more aircraft movements than any other region worldwide. In 2017, one of every three aircraft takeoffs or landings around the world took place in North America.

In light of this growth, North America’s small, medium and large airports face similar challenges: How will they keep pace and thrive amidst rising demands to expand and improve infrastructure, operations, security, revenue management and the overall passenger experience?

Tackling 4 friction points  

Of North America’s estimated 5,000 public airports, Amadeus actively supports more than 140. Behind the scenes, our technology powers everything from passenger and baggage processing to airport management. In varying degrees, airports serve as central conversion points; every time we fly in or out, we as passengers come in contact with multiple touchpoints that can be digital, operational, or physical. Inevitably, friction occurs when these different touchpoints collide.

Amadeus is working hard to remove these friction points. With North American passenger traffic up 3.7% from 2016-2017, and global passenger traffic slated to double by 2034, Amadeus wants to help our airport partners stay ahead of the curve. Key questions we’re asking include, “By 2020, how can we help you make your passengers’ journeys more seamless? And, how can we help you take the friction out of the process?”

Here are four ways Amadeus is helping airports tackle key challenges:

1. Revenue management and billing

As consumers, we love Apple Pay and Google Pay because it’s so easy to transmit payment to anyone, anytime, directly from our mobile phones. In the same way, Amadeus is helping airports like Vancouver International Airport (YVR) conduct seamless aeronautical billing with Amadeus PROPworks, which lets the airport manage contracts, billing and invoicing all in one place. The system records and bills tenants and concessionaires for actual services provided, so the airport never loses revenue due to services not being recorded or planned for in estimates. Why wait weeks or months to get paid when you can invoice your concessionaires today, upon takeoff, or in 30 days? It’s all about helping our airline partners gain more control over their financial systems.

2. Security and seamless processes

Another pain point for airports is the security process, and Amadeus Passenger Verification ensures secure, speedy boarding. New innovations like eye scanners at airport entrances validate traveler identities using iris recognition software. This reduces wait times, freeing gate agents from having to manually match passengers with their documents. JetBlue and Delta have piloted two facial recognition systems that operate similarly.

Another Delta innovation is a self-service bag drop kiosk at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) that lets passengers check bags without interacting with an agent. All of these innovations are helping travelers move through baggage and security lines to their gates quicker, more securely and efficiently.

3. Connectivity and the passenger experience

We’ve all seen the evolution of the boarding pass from paper to mobile. In the next wave, we will continue to see innovation at work. Amadeus has already implemented a biometric boarding system with Lufthansa at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Self-boarding gates with cameras capture passengers’ images and securely send them to the U.S. Customs & Border Protection database for real-time verification. After a successful instant match, the system recognizes the passenger as “boarded.” The passenger no longer needs to show a boarding pass or passport at the boarding gate. During initial trials, Lufthansa boarded approximately 350 guests onto an A380 plane in nearly 20 minutes! We look forward to bringing this technology to California’s San Jose International Airport (SJC) in early 2019.

4. Infrastructure and operations

Amadeus is helping Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) reduce its infrastructure footprint by implementing cost-effective, flexible technology. With our virtual ramp control system, nearly 50 closed-circuit, high-definition video and infrared cameras allow controllers to see aircraft in all weather conditions and move them between the runways and the gates faster and more safely. As a result, passengers arrive on time, get to their gates and disembark quicker, leading to more pleasant journeys. FLL was the first airport to pioneer this technology.

The changing role of the airport

North America’s airports face many pressures due to increased demand for air travel, infrastructure challenges, and increasing traveler expectations. Moving forward, a key challenge for airports will be to identify which operating model best suits their business. Will they stick with older technologies, explore new digital options, or use a hybrid of both? Ultimately, airports must decide for themselves the best way to serve customers, the models they will follow, and the right technologies to help them reach their goals.

Amadeus is in a key position to help airports grow because as a company, we are focused on supporting the entire traveler journey from booking to boarding. Our expertise across the broad spectrum of travel technology uniquely positions us to help airports grow, because we’ve been doing it for 30-plus years now.

It’s amazing that Amadeus has become a trusted partner to the airport industry in just seven years – and we continue to make great strides. As a 20-year airport IT veteran, I am excited about airport transformation, and look forward to helping more airports thrive across North America. Every airport has different objectives and needs, and no one-size-fits-all model suits every organization. My greatest desire is to see airports adopt a strategic approach that puts systems in place that support their business objectives and set them up for future success.

To airports that want to move their business forward through technology transformation, I ask, “How will you make your passengers’ journeys more seamless in the coming year? And, how can Amadeus help you take the pain out of the process?”

To learn more about Amadeus airport solutions, click here. Download our research report on digital transformation today!


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