Streamlining Global Aviation Paradigm: SITA ‘Smart Thinking’ Survey

A cargo plane in Dubai World Central
A cargo plane in Dubai World Central
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At one time, it was quite astonishing to hear about air travellers being able to contact their family and friends through phones installed in their seats. Especially as a kid, I always wondered how the planes could have a link of never-ending cables dropping down from the plane to the nearest phone booth and still fly from one place to another without crashing. The thought of cordless phones being installed in planes never clicked, though now, years later, the idea of people using mobile phones while on air doesn’t at all seem surprising.

But to say that cell phones just allow people to keep maintaining contacts with their family and friends at home would however just be skimming the surface. For, the mobile phone technology allows us to do so much more. SITA, a leading aviation intelligence consultant corporate, recently carried out a survey to understand the ramifications and extent of usage of mobile phone technologies in the aviation sector.

The survey results presented a profound picture not only indicative of the usage of mobile phones’ technology in the present, but of the way the technology was expected to be enhanced in the coming few years.

Smart Thinking SITA Infographic
Smart Thinking SITA Infographic

Highlights of the survey results indicate:

  • Presently more than 50% passengers utilise mobile phones’ technological systems to streamline their air travel processes
  • Nearly 69% people usage mobile phone apps to manage flight disturbances
  • Around 72% people use mobile phones to know and manage their flight schedules
  • About 88% people use mobile phones’ technologies to check air fares and get updates about the status of their luggage

The SITA survey also indicates that aircraft operators and airport authorities are extensively capitalising on these trends and coming with specific business intelligence systems to actively employ these technological availabilities to the maximum. The survey has laid out that 100% of aircraft operators and nearly 90% of airports will be employing mobile technology and various mobile technological systems to ensure the most satisfactory and comfortable aviation experience for passengers worldwide by 2016.

SITA has also elaborated a further break-up of these specific business intelligence systems as outlined by aircraft operators and airports. According to SITA, updates of flight statuses are already a significant mobile service and by end of 2016, this service will extend to the vast majority of airlines and airports. By then, what today are niche services will also be well established. Bag status updates will be offered by 61% of aircraft operators and 79% of airports will provide status notifications such as queue times through security and walking time to gate. More than three quarters will also be providing navigation at the airport via specific mobile phone apps.

Nigel Pickford, Director, Market Insight, SITA, explains, “Our research has clearly shown that the move to Smartphone apps and mobile services is well underway. But many of the services that airlines and airports are planning are heavily dependent on their ability to provide more meaningful data and insight – providing passengers and staff the right information at the right time. Efforts are being made across the industry to collaborate and SITA has established the Business Intelligence Maturity Index to benchmark the progress.”

“We asked airlines and airports to measure themselves in four categories of business intelligence best practice for this index: data access and management, infrastructure, data presentation and governance. Our analysis shows that on average the industry is only halfway to achieving best-in-class and further progress is needed.”

 SITA’s report describes how today the focus is on building the foundation for business intelligence but looking ahead the combination of business intelligence plus predictive analysis will help improve the passenger experience, while optimising the use of infrastructure and space at airports.  In the past, airlines and airports had no choice but to react when bad weather disrupted their finely-tuned schedules. Using business intelligence they can be more proactive by analysing past events and combining live data feeds from multiple sources to predict future events and take preventative action to prudently inform the passengers beforehand which will not only help the passengers, but also further the development of the entirety of the aviation sector.

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