The growing number of tech-savvy travellers will have the biggest impact on airports’ and airlines’ digital strategy over the next six years, according to a new report published by SITA.

The report, ‘2025: Air Travel for a Digital Age’, shows that by 2025, 68% of all passengers will expect to manage their travel using their mobile phones. In particular, passengers expect to use their phones to access services ranging from baggage location notifications to boarding and payments, and they expect their trip to be delivered as a single, unified experience across airports, airlines, border control and other modes of transport, from when they leave home to when they arrive at their destination.

Barbara Dalibard, SITA ceo, says: “83% of airport and airline IT leaders surveyed by SITA believe that this demographic shift will be the most important influence on their passenger solutions strategy by 2025.”

Dalibard says this shift requires more efficient operations and collaboration between airlines, airports and other stakeholders responsible for delivering that experience.

Baggage is a prime example, she says. For a single journey, a bag can change hands a dozen times between the airline, airport, the ground handler and customs agencies. If the right data is not shared between the entities, it is difficult to keep track of that bag or to provide the information the passenger seeks on the whereabouts of their bag.

Biometric technology enables the delivery of automation as well as the linkage of each step in the journey. This technology is already being used at airports for border control and boarding aircraft and that is set to grow significantly, both in terms of geographic spread and functionality.

“To truly benefit from biometric technology, we as an industry need to work together to develop a digital identity that not only provides passengers with control over their identity but is accepted in any airport and across borders, much like passports are today. This cannot be done in isolation and requires a high degree of collaboration to make it a reality,” says Dalibard.