Trends that will change air travel

David Lavorel, CEO, SITA at Airports and Borders, plots a new course for aviation’s recovery in 2021 and predicts a smarter, safer and more sustainable travel industry that is fit for people as well as the planet with six technology trends set to transform air travel in 2021.

Manas Dwivedi

According to David Lavorel, the industry must regain the trust of passengers. Airport and airline workers must also trust the measures taken and the environments they are working in are sufficient to keep them safe.  “The pace of innovation adoption sets a scene for rapid industry transformation over the next few years,” he believes.

Self-service and biometrics Automation and biometrics will become the norm rather than the exception at leading airports globally in the next few years.

Evolving airport operations

Passenger flow management technologies provide real-time passenger monitoring and actionable insights, for airports to understand and manage passenger movement throughout the airport. It will become a necessity to proactively manage crowd density and social distancing during daily operations, as well as longer-term planning.

IoT, AI and ML

While helping to address immediate needs like sanitisation, social distancing and the automation of customer support processes, the combination of these technologies potentially signposts a Fourth Industrial Revolution, where, beyond airports, the physical world around us becomes connected and intelligent.

Digital identity

In the coming years, the development of a digital identity is likely to replace the traditional passport. One  approach is aDigital Travel Credential (DTC), currently being explored and progressed by key industry bodies like ICAO. Another potential solution is self-sovereign identity, a form of digital identity giving travellers control over how their personal data is shared and used.

APP & health ETAs

Advance Passenger Processing (APP) brings the ability to assess the risk, including health risks, and allow or deny travel at check-in. When coupled with the implementation of a Health ETA service, it enables real-time checks to be performed to confirm that each traveller has completed the required health checks and is eligible to travel.

Blockchain for savings

Customs processes are another area where Blockchain can solve challenges. Airports, airlines and governments can share baggage content information to pre-clear bags at arrival, hence avoiding the need to recheck bags in transit. Improving efficiency in this department, and further reducing the chances of baggage mishandling on arrival, is good news for passengers.


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