The program, called NEXTT (New Experience in Travel and Technologies) is designed to cut out excess steps and make passenger processing faster as the industry prepares to serve 7.8 billion passengers by 2036 – double the current amount.
NEXTT will focus on three key areas for aircraft, cargo and passenger services:
- Off-airport activities: investigating transferring on-site processes, such as security processing and baggage check and drop-off, offsite to earlier points in the journey, These processes could take place at the passenger’s home, hotels, rail and other transport services.
- Advanced processing technology: looking at advanced technology like tracking and identification, automation and robotics can improve efficiency, safety, security, and the passenger experience.
- Interactive decision-making: promoting better use of data, predictive modelling and artificial intelligence for real-time decision-making.
IATA and ACI will work with technology suppliers and government agencies to solve the challenges of the program as it advances. Airports already participating in related projects include Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Bangalore International Airport, Dubai International (DXB), Heathrow Airport and Shenzhen Airport.
Here’s IATA’s promotional video introducing the initiative.
Meanwhile SITA and ATPCO announced that their NDC Exchange platform was successfully piloted by Air Canada and British Airways. The platform allows airlines, travel agents and aggregators to exchange real-time pricing, shopping data, and ancillary messages.
Buy more onboard
The inflight connectivity (IFC) track focused on the possibilities for getting passengers to buy more at 30,000 feet by using inflight wifi to ease the payment processes. Robin Hopper, senior vice president of product and marketing for Guestlogix, said: “There has been a lack of innovation, particularly for onboard retail.”
One opportunity would be to leave the trolleys behind and start using seat-back screens and passengers’ own personal electronic devices as sales portals, and widen the scope of items sold beyond food, beverage and duty free.
A big hurdle to achieving this is the simplification of payment processing. Airlines want to move away from cash purchases for greater security, and many already have moved to card-only purchases. Even these bring complications since payments cannot be authorised until the plane is back on the ground. The risk of fraud discourages airlines from selling high-ticket items.
But on planes which are equipped with internet access, airlines can process credit card payments in real-time. They can also process digital payments such as Paypal, Apple Pay and Alipay, a move which, panel experts argued, could actually boost purchases.
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