New tech to improve air passengers' flying experience - industry

More than 8.2 billion passengers will travel by air globally by 2037, this is nearly double the amount of current passengers, according to the aviation industry's projections.

Nick Careen, senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security at the International Air Transport Association (Iata), said that growth of air passengers and cargo demands will present challenges to airports. He was speaking at a media briefing ahead of the start of the 75th annual general meeting of Iata in Seoul, South Korea.  

In order to assist airports, airlines and governments with challenges, Iata proposed what it calls the New Experience Travel Technologies (NEXTT). The aim of NEXTT is to look at the transformation of the whole process of passengers, baggage, cargo and the aircraft itself, moving through an airport.

The NEXTT programme considers how advanced processing technology can improve the safety, security and customer experience. It includes the use of tracking and identification, robotics and automation.

At the core of the passenger vision of NEXTT is ensuring a seamless end to end journey that exceeds passenger expectations by providing personalisation and control, while continually improving security and process efficiency.

"The rapid emergence of new technologies can lead to a new way of looking at airport capacity challenges," said Careen.

"It is both the implementation of new technologies as well as the integration of existing technologies, processes and services to deliver a better experience to all stakeholders," he said.

The NEXTT vision for baggage handling is to create a convenient and hassle-free handling and tracking of baggage for passengers with a greater choice of service offerings. For this to happen, each item of baggage would need its own kind of "biometric" tracked identity.

The same would apply for each item of cargo transported by air where intelligent systems will self-monitor and send real-time alerts and respond to changes in handling conditions.

NEXTT also aims to create a predictable, safe and fully coordinated aircraft turnaround process by enhancing operational planning at airports.

"The NEXTT team is working with many stakeholders across the industry to understand how they are transforming their business. We are asking all stakeholders to help us validate our vision and also give us new ideas," said Careen.

"We expect the NEXTT vision to evolve and change as we learn in the coming years. NEXTT will also create a disruptive 'technology' economy that may lead to the evolution of new business models and aviation-sector companies," he added.

* Fin24 is a guest of Iata at its AGM.

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