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Technology may never be the defining reason for an airline choosing an airport. Route profitability will remain the key driving force. However, that is not to say that IT systems are not a contributing factor. The resilience, flexibility, and reliability of airport IT systems can be important parameters, as they can determine an airport’s ability to meet KPIs and to satisfy passenger expectations.
Operational efficiency is an important consideration for carriers, as they look to minimize waste and costs while maximizing revenues. Better technology at the airport can reduce resource consumption, turnaround times, communication (network) and messaging costs, all of which can have a considerable impact on an airline’s bottom-line. Therefore, technology that allows airlines to reduce this impact will always be attractive as it helps them to lower expenditure.
Evidence of this is found in a recent article for tnooz.com, where Thomas Woldbye, CEO of Copenhagen Airport remarks that enhancing airport desirability by using technology to reduce costs for airlines is a priority.
Passenger experience remains a high priority as airlines look to differentiate themselves and demonstrate greater value for money. Operational efficiency will also always be invariably linked to customer experience.
For example, biometric technologies, which streamline processes for greater efficiency, also make the airport experience simpler and more effortless for customers. A single biometric token can remove the need for multiple forms of documentation, allowing customers to pass through check-in/bag-drop, immigration and boarding with one token (for example their face, fingerprint or iris). Thereby, simplifying and increasing the speed of their journey.
Full Service Carriers (FSC), in particular, can use the streamlined experience to bolster their premium brands. Low Cost Carriers (LCC) can use this as a way to show customers additional value while enhancing their own operational efficiency.
In these ways and others, airlines may look to airport technology to enhance the customer experience.
Another way airportsare meeting the changing needs of airlines is by integrating new and evolving media into their service offerings. For example social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
One example of this is Sydney Airport's introduction of a range of new innovations for airlines and passengers, including allowing passengers to get flight information from Facebook Messenger and Twitter as well as rolling out in-terminal Google Maps and the Chinese Baidu Maps.
This progress mirrors the efforts airlines have made to connect and serve their customers on social media. In future, it is not inconceivable that airlines will expect to be able leverage airport social media channels to resolve complaints and situations, before they escalate.
The conclusion is that those airports which align their digital strategy with that of airlines may get a competitive edge.
As Airport IT providers offer more passenger processing technologyand shared technology, the capacity for Airport IT to enhance operational efficiency and the customer experience will only continue to increase. And, so too will the desirability of airports which offer these technologies. In this way IT systems can play a part in enticing airlines to choose selected airports.
For more information on how airports can demonstrate value to airlines download the recent Frost and Sullivan whitepaper entitled: Strengthening the Airport Value Proposition.