SITA has released a new paper outlining the company’s vision for the immediate future of air travel.
SITA’s ‘Runway for Future Operations’ report details the steps required for the air transport industry to deliver safer, smarter, and leaner air travel and recover from the unique economic challenges of COVID-19.
The paper follows the release of new SITA data showing that despite falling significantly, global flight volumes continue to recover. SITA’s data shows that flight volumes dropped 69% year-on-year in June, significantly better than May’s year-on-year drop of 80%. On a week-over-week (wow) basis, SITA’s figures for week 28 (July 8-Jul 14) show an eighth consecutive increase in air traffic. The global air traffic is now operating at 45% of its pre-COVID-19 capacity.
The report is designed to help airports and airlines build efficient and future-proof operations quickly to resume safe and efficient travel at a manageable cost. Safer, frictionless passenger journeys are a key element of the recommendations, enabled through low-touch and contactless passenger processing and border technologies.
Barbara Dalibard CEO of SITA said: “The industry has to achieve far more with far less in order to thrive in a significantly smaller market where passenger numbers may be uncertain for years to come.
“We need a focus shift from immediate actions like masks and hand sanitizers to longer-term and more sustainable solutions. Automation of operations will play an important role in reducing queues and touchpoints at the airport as passenger volumes begin to recover and social distancing becomes increasingly difficult. For many airports, these are just bolt-on solutions to existing technologies and platforms that offer longevity and cost efficiency benefits beyond addressing COVID-19 challenges.”
SITA’s key steps to address COVID-19’s challenges for air travel
Enable passengers to be ready to fly before the airport
Travel authorization, bag-drop, check in and more can be facilitated away from the airport to reduce passenger queuing and to enable more social distancing. This means passengers can arrive checked in and ‘ready to fly’. Health ETAs (Electronic Travel Authorization) help further speed up the process. SITA uses biometrically enabled, secure mobile technology which allows governments can instantly check digital declarations before passengers travel – minimizing hassle and queuing at airports.
Enabling safer, easier passage through the airport
A seamless journey through the airport is crucial to reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection. SITA gives passengers a contactless experience, thanks to biometrics capable of enrolling then recognizing faces with masks on and passengers being able to use their ‘mobile as a remote control for travel’. Touchless bag tagging and digital boarding pass stamps at security are just some of the examples of minimizing the need for passengers to touch airport infrastructure or physically contact staff.
Safer on arrival and beyond
SITA now provides health-aware border checks on arrival, linked to pre-checked identity, journey, and health information. Processing passengers via biometric-enabled gates or traditional border checkpoints is faster than ever and completely touchless, further reducing the time of exposure in the airport, congestion levels and contact points. Passengers can also receive personal notifications advising bag arrival location and times, to help avoid clustering in the baggage arrivals hall. And, in the unfortunate event of losing a bag they can use mobile lost bag reporting to check the progress on any lost bags and connect to the airline.
“Resilient and agile systems that increase efficiencies and can respond to unpredictable fluxes in passenger numbers will greatly influence those who can adapt and thrive in this new reality. The pandemic represents a new 9/11 moment for air travel and how we respond will define our industry for decades to come,” added Dalibard.