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Biometrics and Digital Identity are Key in Ensuring the Future of Air Travel

Guest blog written by John Devlin, co-founder of P.A.ID Strategies, with whom we are partnered on producing a soon-to-be published report on smart airport technologies.

Air travel has been massively impacted and disrupted in the past six months. Until Covid-19 hit, the biggest challenge facing airport operators and airlines was how to cope with an ever-increasing demand for air travel and the limited infrastructure to support it. Now, they are scrambling for survival as the industry has been turned on its head and looking to cut costs and develop new means of handling and processing passengers.

Here are a few points demonstrating how steep a cliff the industry has fallen off:

  • At the height of the pandemic and lockdowns in various countries, passenger volumes were down over 90% and in August were still ~80% down on the same time last year in the peak summer months
  • As a result, the Airports Council International (ACI) stated that airports globally will see an expected drop in income of $104.5 billion in 2020 with passenger volumes revised down from 9.4 to 3.8 billion (a 59.6% decline)
  • Heathrow Airport alone estimates that Covid-19 has cost it £1 billion since March
  • Gatwick Airport, London, announced in its 1H20 results that passenger numbers were down 66% for the first 6 months of the year, with revenues declining 61.3% effecting a loss of £321 million

It doesn’t stop there. Whilst flight volumes are increasing, passenger numbers are lagging. The bulk of an airport’s operating costs are related to airport movements whilst their revenues come from passenger spend, which further increases price pressure on airports.

  • Accordingly, Gatwick has cut CAPEX by £157 million this year and plans cuts of £196 million for 2021 with OPEX reduced by £100 million – but this is by compromising and consolidating air traffic into a single terminal, over 70% of staff furloughed and large scale redundancies are planned

Whilst the numbers are (slowly) ticking upwards, our expectation is that passenger volumes will have only recovered to near 2019 numbers by 2023-24, so it is important for airports and airlines to find new, more efficient ways to operate their businesses and recover at least some of their lost revenues.

New Partnerships, Processes and Strategies to Ensure Survival and Plan for the Future

Airports and airlines are looking to implement solutions to enhance “safety” (or the perception of it) and encourage passengers back to fill the flights that are taking place. There are various approaches and technologies that can help them do this. We initially looked at the adoption of biometrics and digital identity in airports three years ago and there has been an increasing number of pilots and trials in the time since. COVID-19 will only accelerate adoption of eGates and self-service kiosks with airports keen to reduce costs and increase efficiency with more automation so that they can prioritise their resources to where needed given the huge drop-off in passenger volumes.

Additionally, new business models and partnerships are being explored by sector specialists so that airports, airlines and traditional suppliers can work together more closely. There is also a move away from the bespoke solutions typically demanded in aviation to more COTS approaches and more use of the public cloud to knit all the various systems together and reduce costs, improve delivery times, etc.

Further, the sector is looking to reassure travellers by reducing human interactions and minimising necessary contact. The added advantage is that these solutions also (typically) reduce OPEX and increase efficiency, plus give more control and increase digital footprint, which gives more data on users and can help drive further advances with analytics and track and trace (if necessary and acceptable).

A Smarter and Better Passenger Experience Utilising Biometrics, Digital Identity and Mobile

There is even a potential silver lining, once the immediate concerns have been addressed. Whilst numbers are depressed, airports and airlines are able to restructure their businesses and operational processes, form new partnerships, adopt new business models and plan how they will not only recover but build back better. If they are able to garner industry and government support, new standards and processes, based upon smartphones, biometrics and digital identity, can be designed and implemented to give the customer more choice and flexibility without the restrictions of traditional inspections. Want to have your bag-tags automatically printed when you enter the airport? And to create a biometric token when you get to the airport so you can seamlessly make your way through all passenger checkpoints and board your plane without having to repeatedly show your passport and boarding pass? How about checking-in to your flight when checking out of your hotel? Give permission for the airline to share your digital identity with your destination country for quicker passage through customs and border control? Well, soon we may be able to do just that.

Note: P.A.ID Strategies and Valour Consultancy have combined their respective areas of expertise in biometrics, identity, security and aviation to develop a new market research report entitled “The Seamless Passenger Journey in Smart Airports”. The report will assess the potential for biometrics, digital identity and smart solutions for self-service, automation and traveller processing to improve the passenger experience, increase efficiency and build revenue streams for airports and airlines as they initially cope with the disruption resulting from COVID-19 and plan their strategies to recover and build back better. More information and the report proposal can be found here: https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/The-Seamless-Passenger-Journey-in-Smart-Airports-Report-Proposal.pdf

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  • At the height of the pandemic and lockdowns in various countries, passenger volumes were down over 90% and in August were still ~80% down on the same time last year in the peak summer months
  • As a result, the Airports Council International (ACI) stated that airports globally will see an expected drop in income of $104.5 billion in 2020 with passenger volumes revised down from 9.4 to 3.8 billion (a 59.6% decline)
  • Heathrow Airport alone estimates that Covid-19 has cost it £1 billion since March
  • Gatwick Airport, London, announced in its 1H20 results that passenger numbers were down 66% for the first 6 months of the year, with revenues declining 61.3% effecting a loss of £321 million
It doesn’t stop there. Whilst flight volumes are increasing, passenger numbers are lagging. The bulk of an airport’s operating costs are related to airport movements whilst their revenues come from passenger spend, which further increases price pressure on airports.
  • Accordingly, Gatwick has cut CAPEX by £157 million this year and plans cuts of £196 million for 2021 with OPEX reduced by £100 million – but this is by compromising and consolidating air traffic into a single terminal, over 70% of staff furloughed and large scale redundancies are planned
Whilst the numbers are (slowly) ticking upwards, our expectation is that passenger volumes will have only recovered to near 2019 numbers by 2023-24, so it is important for airports and airlines to find new, more efficient ways to operate their businesses and recover at least some of their lost revenues. New Partnerships, Processes and Strategies to Ensure Survival and Plan for the Future Airports and airlines are looking to implement solutions to enhance “safety” (or the perception of it) and encourage passengers back to fill the flights that are taking place. There are various approaches and technologies that can help them do this. We initially looked at the adoption of biometrics and digital identity in airports three years ago and there has been an increasing number of pilots and trials in the time since. COVID-19 will only accelerate adoption of eGates and self-service kiosks with airports keen to reduce costs and increase efficiency with more automation so that they can prioritise their resources to where needed given the huge drop-off in passenger volumes. Additionally, new business models and partnerships are being explored by sector specialists so that airports, airlines and traditional suppliers can work together more closely. There is also a move away from the bespoke solutions typically demanded in aviation to more COTS approaches and more use of the public cloud to knit all the various systems together and reduce costs, improve delivery times, etc. Further, the sector is looking to reassure travellers by reducing human interactions and minimising necessary contact. The added advantage is that these solutions also (typically) reduce OPEX and increase efficiency, plus give more control and increase digital footprint, which gives more data on users and can help drive further advances with analytics and track and trace (if necessary and acceptable). A Smarter and Better Passenger Experience Utilising Biometrics, Digital Identity and Mobile There is even a potential silver lining, once the immediate concerns have been addressed. Whilst numbers are depressed, airports and airlines are able to restructure their businesses and operational processes, form new partnerships, adopt new business models and plan how they will not only recover but build back better. If they are able to garner industry and government support, new standards and processes, based upon smartphones, biometrics and digital identity, can be designed and implemented to give the customer more choice and flexibility without the restrictions of traditional inspections. Want to have your bag-tags automatically printed when you enter the airport? And to create a biometric token when you get to the airport so you can seamlessly make your way through all passenger checkpoints and board your plane without having to repeatedly show your passport and boarding pass? How about checking-in to your flight when checking out of your hotel? Give permission for the airline to share your digital identity with your destination country for quicker passage through customs and border control? Well, soon we may be able to do just that. Note: P.A.ID Strategies and Valour Consultancy have combined their respective areas of expertise in biometrics, identity, security and aviation to develop a new market research report entitled "The Seamless Passenger Journey in Smart Airports". The report will assess the potential for biometrics, digital identity and smart solutions for self-service, automation and traveller processing to improve the passenger experience, increase efficiency and build revenue streams for airports and airlines as they initially cope with the disruption resulting from COVID-19 and plan their strategies to recover and build back better. More information and the report proposal can be found here: https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/The-Seamless-Passenger-Journey-in-Smart-Airports-Report-Proposal.pdf [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Smart Airports: New Technologies Set to Take Flight & Transform the Passenger Journey

The following blog was written by John Devlin, founder of P.A.ID Strategies, one of Valour Consultancy’s trusted partners. The original article can be viewed here.

Future Growth is Outstripping Capacity

With forecasts for growth in air travel ranging from 60% to 100% over the next 20 years, airport operators, airlines and governments face a number of significant challenges.  The predominant question is how to cope with the far greater passenger numbers (and airfreight) without doubling the number of airports.  There will certainly continue to be new airports built, new runways added to existing airports, plus renovation of terminals to ensure that service standards are maintained but it is not cost effective or practical for a combination of reasons to think that future demand can be met by simply building more airports.

Efficiency Over Capacity

So how will this be addressed?  Capacity will be increased but not, as said, by doubling the number of airports.  Generally, airports are in the right places to meet demand and creating multiple versions of the same infrastructure and human resources is inefficient and creates a drain on the available knowledge and skills-base.  Whilst most airports are relatively efficient, they have largely been following the formulae and procedures put in place in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  Yes, operationally as traffic has increased airports have refined their procedures but essentially, they have not evolved to any great degree.  Better asset utilisation and understanding of and interaction with passengers are key objectives for many airports operators.

Traditional Models are being Disrupted

There certainly remains a need for strong regulation and security but as businesses and consumers have embraced innovative technologies, especially around mobile and the personalisation of services, the passenger experience has not yet progressed to any great degree.  Many businesses and industries have been transformed over the past 5-10 years.  Connectivity, the Internet and smartphones have been the catalyst for much of this.  However, advances in infrastructure, especially at end-points and with the IoT, generate better data, enable more personalisation of services and allow more context to be added to the user experience.

Traditional industries no longer have a lock-down on how their service and/or product is provided, bought or consumed.  The Internet has had a major effect on the travel sector, changing how we buy flights, hotels and even airport parking but it all stops at the airport door.  We don’t expect to see disruption on the scale of Uber affect the airlines – at least not in the next 10-15 years – but we do believe that the competitive drivers within the sector will see more movement than we have to date.

Airports and Aviation are Ready for Digital Transformation

We are approaching an inflection point for the sector.  Competition between airlines is not going away and with advances in other areas of (personal) transportation and mass transit this will continue to intensify.  Airport operators are competing more than ever to attract passenger traffic and ensure that they can offer the most attractive financial and service proposition to the airlines.  Balanced against this they have to be careful to ensure that they maintain or improve their customer satisfaction levels.

Costs and pricing can only affect so much of the decision.  The passenger experience is now a differentiating factor and as prices have been driven down there is an increasing focus on generating ancillary revenues – both in-flight and on the ground for both airlines and airport operators.  We have had mobile apps from airlines for a few years but they are very focused on loyalty and do not go much beyond checking-in and boarding passes in terms of tailoring to individuals.  There is little tie in with retail and hospitality, or travelling to and from the airport and parking, car-hire, refreshments, in-flight entertainment and personalised updates.  There most certainly is no ability to connect with the airport and ease the biggest pain points of queueing through security and at the boarding gate.

Future Technologies for Smart Airports – Creating the Digital Passenger Experience

Mobile, apps, online, digital and mobile identity, know your customer (KYC) and authenticating identity, biometrics (facial, fingerprint, iris), sensors, beacons, new forms of payment, mobile wallets, NFC and contactless, RFID, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, intelligent video analytics, big data, new human interface technologies, chatbots, robots and intelligent assistants.  These are all existing technologies and progressing rapidly, often happening behind the scenes but affecting how we use services and the decisions that we make.

These technologies can be employed within a future smart airport environment, reducing queues, improving the passenger experience, helping operators, airlines and their partners better engage with their customers, understand them and meet their requirements.  In turn, this has the upside of better customer service and improved loyalty as well as greater revenue potential, whilst also creating more efficient airports that are better able to meet future demand and capacity requirements.

Note: Three analyst firms are working together to provide a detailed analysis of Future Technologies for Smart Airports.  Their combined expertise, insight and knowledge will provide the most comprehensive assessments for smart airports.  P.A.ID Strategies provides nearly 20 years of experience around mobile, identity, payments, biometrics, NFC, RFID and security.  SAR Insight has 20 years of knowledge in the semiconductor sector with expertise in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, sensors, smart devices and the IoT.  Valour Consultancy has over 30 years’ analyst experience and is the leading provider of market intelligence for in-flight connectivity, in-flight entertainment, cabin technology, connected aircraft and the IoT.

They are working to develop a new market report entitled “Future Technologies for Smart Airports – creating the digital passenger experience” examining the potential adoption of modern technologies to make airports smarter, more efficient and deliver better service to customers and partners.  Please contact John Devlin at info@paidstrategies.com for more information.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4968|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/smart-airports-1024x576-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] The following blog was written by John Devlin, founder of P.A.ID Strategies, one of Valour Consultancy's trusted partners. The original article can be viewed here. Future Growth is Outstripping Capacity With forecasts for growth in air travel ranging from 60% to 100% over the next 20 years, airport operators, airlines and governments face a number of significant challenges.  The predominant question is how to cope with the far greater passenger numbers (and airfreight) without doubling the number of airports.  There will certainly continue to be new airports built, new runways added to existing airports, plus renovation of terminals to ensure that service standards are maintained but it is not cost effective or practical for a combination of reasons to think that future demand can be met by simply building more airports. Efficiency Over Capacity So how will this be addressed?  Capacity will be increased but not, as said, by doubling the number of airports.  Generally, airports are in the right places to meet demand and creating multiple versions of the same infrastructure and human resources is inefficient and creates a drain on the available knowledge and skills-base.  Whilst most airports are relatively efficient, they have largely been following the formulae and procedures put in place in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  Yes, operationally as traffic has increased airports have refined their procedures but essentially, they have not evolved to any great degree.  Better asset utilisation and understanding of and interaction with passengers are key objectives for many airports operators. Traditional Models are being Disrupted There certainly remains a need for strong regulation and security but as businesses and consumers have embraced innovative technologies, especially around mobile and the personalisation of services, the passenger experience has not yet progressed to any great degree.  Many businesses and industries have been transformed over the past 5-10 years.  Connectivity, the Internet and smartphones have been the catalyst for much of this.  However, advances in infrastructure, especially at end-points and with the IoT, generate better data, enable more personalisation of services and allow more context to be added to the user experience. Traditional industries no longer have a lock-down on how their service and/or product is provided, bought or consumed.  The Internet has had a major effect on the travel sector, changing how we buy flights, hotels and even airport parking but it all stops at the airport door.  We don’t expect to see disruption on the scale of Uber affect the airlines – at least not in the next 10-15 years – but we do believe that the competitive drivers within the sector will see more movement than we have to date. Airports and Aviation are Ready for Digital Transformation We are approaching an inflection point for the sector.  Competition between airlines is not going away and with advances in other areas of (personal) transportation and mass transit this will continue to intensify.  Airport operators are competing more than ever to attract passenger traffic and ensure that they can offer the most attractive financial and service proposition to the airlines.  Balanced against this they have to be careful to ensure that they maintain or improve their customer satisfaction levels. Costs and pricing can only affect so much of the decision.  The passenger experience is now a differentiating factor and as prices have been driven down there is an increasing focus on generating ancillary revenues – both in-flight and on the ground for both airlines and airport operators.  We have had mobile apps from airlines for a few years but they are very focused on loyalty and do not go much beyond checking-in and boarding passes in terms of tailoring to individuals.  There is little tie in with retail and hospitality, or travelling to and from the airport and parking, car-hire, refreshments, in-flight entertainment and personalised updates.  There most certainly is no ability to connect with the airport and ease the biggest pain points of queueing through security and at the boarding gate. Future Technologies for Smart Airports – Creating the Digital Passenger Experience Mobile, apps, online, digital and mobile identity, know your customer (KYC) and authenticating identity, biometrics (facial, fingerprint, iris), sensors, beacons, new forms of payment, mobile wallets, NFC and contactless, RFID, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, intelligent video analytics, big data, new human interface technologies, chatbots, robots and intelligent assistants.  These are all existing technologies and progressing rapidly, often happening behind the scenes but affecting how we use services and the decisions that we make. These technologies can be employed within a future smart airport environment, reducing queues, improving the passenger experience, helping operators, airlines and their partners better engage with their customers, understand them and meet their requirements.  In turn, this has the upside of better customer service and improved loyalty as well as greater revenue potential, whilst also creating more efficient airports that are better able to meet future demand and capacity requirements. Note: Three analyst firms are working together to provide a detailed analysis of Future Technologies for Smart Airports.  Their combined expertise, insight and knowledge will provide the most comprehensive assessments for smart airports.  P.A.ID Strategies provides nearly 20 years of experience around mobile, identity, payments, biometrics, NFC, RFID and security.  SAR Insight has 20 years of knowledge in the semiconductor sector with expertise in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, sensors, smart devices and the IoT.  Valour Consultancy has over 30 years’ analyst experience and is the leading provider of market intelligence for in-flight connectivity, in-flight entertainment, cabin technology, connected aircraft and the IoT. They are working to develop a new market report entitled “Future Technologies for Smart Airports – creating the digital passenger experience” examining the potential adoption of modern technologies to make airports smarter, more efficient and deliver better service to customers and partners.  Please contact John Devlin at info@paidstrategies.com for more information. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]