Airport Recovery Is in Full Swing; to Focus More on Sustainability and Digitisation
The airport industry is on its way to recovery as there is an expected influx of passengers wanting to go back to the travel scene. There may be some challenges impacting airport operations, but a full recovery of passenger numbers is projected. Both small and large airports are reevaluating strategies that will pave the way for a strong growth opportunity in the sector.
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What are the airports doing?
Airports are making changes to their operation plans and strategies. Some of the key focus areas for airports include cost reduction, efficient airport operations, resource optimisation, sustainability, passenger experience, and safety and security.
There are several strategies that the airport industry has been working on to help manage the growing passenger demand.
Airports have deployed automation within existing ecosystems at various airport locations. Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered self-driving bots, for instance, have been existing at Changi and Narita airports. Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR) systems are also used to enhance passenger experiences by providing virtual tours and simulations. These can be seen at IGA Istanbul Airport. The application of biometrics also rose, not only to reduce touchpoints but also to expedite passenger flow.
AI-Based Video Analytics are being applied in airports for real-time decision-making. To help with manpower, airports are leveraging data captured by various sensors, such as RFID (radio frequency identification) and geolocation, to manage and deploy resources in real-time. For instance, a ground handling company at Singapore Changi Airport has been using AR glasses for ground operations.
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Digitalisation at Airports
The need for digitisation in airports has intensified in recent years. Digitisation is believed to increase airport capacity, stakeholder collaboration, efficiency, and resource optimization. Some of the digitisation trends in airports include leveraging AI and Big Data for airport operations, using IoT to track passenger movement, and applying other innovative digital solutions to increase non-aeronautical revenue.
Though there may be a few challenges, digitalisation will remain vital to airports’ strategies going forward. Also, technology providers should be able to make customisations as airport needs vary per region and have specific requirements and vision.
Digitalisation allows the sharing of data between stakeholders to measure airport performance in real time. Data obtained from digital capacities can also give airport operators situational awareness and the ability to determine appropriate next steps to apply in operations. The digital sensors installed at the airport enable informed decision-making for processes across the airport. Digital solutions also minimise turnaround times and support seamless passenger processing. Additionally, it boosts non-aeronautical revenue, which helps the industry make up for losses during the pandemic years.
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Sustainability at Airports
Airports have also been deploying different types of initiatives to help achieve the industry’s goal of net-zero emissions. It is imperative for airports to adhere to sustainability efforts as it is a regulatory obligation, and a number of passengers have been demanding greener travel. Also, it can be a solution for rising energy costs. With the development of innovative and scalable solutions, there will surely be a shift towards sustainability in the years to come.
The industry is working on applying sustainability not only to the airside of things, which comprises runways and taxiways. The landside of the airport is also being reimagined using renewable energy, as well as applying effective waste management and impactful landscaping. One good example is Cochin Airport in Kerala, India, where they are harnessing solar power to contribute to the electric power needs of the airport. Moreover, terminal buildings are leveraging modern technology to reduce carbon footprints and increase healthy passenger flow.
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