Connected air travel set to be a reality soon

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Connected air travel set to be a reality soon
Global airlines are expected to increasingly invest in electronic flight bag solutions as part of the digitalisation drive.

A majority of airlines are set to spend big on the Internet of Things in three years

By Staff Report

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Published: Sun 10 Jul 2016, 7:12 PM

Last updated: Sun 10 Jul 2016, 9:16 PM

As the connected world of travel becomes a reality, 91 per cent of airlines plan to invest in cyber security programmes over the next three years, according to the Sita Airline IT Trends 2016 survey.

Sita, a travel technology provider to the air transport industry, carried out the survey among the world's top 200 airlines, and discovered that cyber security at airlines is progressing. Three years ago, less than half of airlines (47 per cent) said they were making advanced preparations to manage cyber risks - today, this has doubled to 91 per cent.

The focus on cyber security also reflects the move to the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) in which a vast number of physical objects will become connected to the Internet. This enables tracking, data collection, analysis and control, which necessitates more security.

An overwhelming majority of airlines (68 per cent) are investing in IoT programmes in the next three years, up from 57 per cent this time last year.

A key area of IoT investment is in connected aircraft, which 46 per cent of airlines believe will give a better passenger experience. Today, 37 per cent of airlines operate connected aircraft and this will jump to two thirds by 2019.

Currently, 'Internet via passenger devices' is the service offered by most (33 per cent). Over the next three years, big increases in services are expected, with more than half of airlines planning to provide destination services and duty-free shopping apps, while 70 per cent plan to provide multi-media file streaming on passenger devices.

Nigel Pickford, director of market insight, Sita, said: "Airlines are investing in areas which will promote a connected world of travel for the benefit of passengers and the workforce. We see new priorities attracting more investment, with cyber security and electronic flight bag solutions coming to the fore in this year's research.

"The initiatives to realise the 'Internet of Things' include smart bag tagging to enable continuous tracking, which is planned by 61 per cent of airlines by 2019. Nearly half [47 per cent] of airlines are also planning IT programmes for single token travel for passenger identification."

The overall sentiment among IT executives at the world's airlines is positive. The majority expect an increase in their IT spend over the next year. This is a big change from 2015 when only around one third had positive expectations.

Other trends of note are the move to more software development in-house and the shift to outsource IT operations. In future, a growing proportion of airline IT budgets is likely to be spent on innovation rather than service continuity, with innovation rising to 36 per cent of overall IT and telecommunication spend in 2016.

Providing passenger services via smartphones continues to be a key area of investment for airlines; 79 per cent are planning major investment over the next three years while a further 17 per cent are planning a pilot programme or R&D in this area.

Services to passengers on tablets will also see significant investment, with 71 per cent of airlines planning major programmes for these devices (up from 63 per cent in 2015). Airlines are using social media activity and physical location to tailor personalised offers to passengers; in fact, three quarters plan to do this by 2019.

Despite the fact that airlines have baggage tracking as part of their IoT plans, one quarter have no specific IT investment plans for compliance with Iata's resolution 753. However, 77 per cent see a major benefit in improving customer satisfaction from compliance to the resolution.


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