Airports are placing a higher priority on IT investments for passenger and airport security, with 50 percent of facilities surveyed rating it a high priority, up from 37 percent last year, according to a new report. The Airport IT Trends Survey 2016, co-sponsored by SITA, a company that provides technology solutions to the air-transport industry, and Airports Council International in association with Airline Business, surveyed 225 leading global airports. Other findings included the following:
• The focus on passenger and airport security moved up from fifth place in the 2015 survey to second place in 2016, with passenger processing remaining in first place.
• In the face of increased cyber attacks, just over half of airports (55 percent) say their cyber-security plans are fully developed and operational, while 41 percent admit that their plans still are only in the development stage.
• Passenger self-service, especially for luggage check-in, is picking up momentum, with two-thirds of airports planning major IT projects in this area. Meanwhile, the use of digital tags to replace paper tags used for check-in baggage rose slightly, from 10 percent in 2015 to 12 percent last year.
• Nearly half of airports (48 percent) are in the process of developing major programs involving sensing technologies such as beacons, Bluetooth and WiFi to gauge the movement of people and assets around the facilities, up from 30 percent in last year's survey.
• By 2019, an estimated 84 percent of airports plan to enable purchasing of services through their mobile apps, up from 68 percent in 2016.
• While 74 percent of airports currently provide unlimited free WiFi to passengers, that number is expected to drop to 54 percent over the next three years as more facilities offer time-limited free access and adopt various pricing plans.
• Trends to watch for include kiosks that enable passengers to download digital content such as new movies before they board their flights. Currently, only 4 percent of airports offer this technology, but a further 26 percent have plans to add it by 2019.