Security Emerges As Top Priority For Investment In 2006 Airport It Trends Survey

Airports surveyed in SITA’s Annual Airport IT Trends Survey, carried out in conjunction with Airports Council International and Airline Business magazine, report that security is now the main priority (97%) for IT investment across the industry next year.

The strong resurgence worldwide in air traffic means that alongside security-related IT solutions, airports’ other top priorities are operational solutions (93%) to manage the flow of passengers and aircraft, and passenger and baggage processing systems (73%).

The headline figure for industry IT and telecommunications spend as a proportion of revenues dropped marginally to 4.4% from 4.6% last year, but on the back of increasing passenger demand and top-line revenue growth.

IT expenditure in absolute terms has remained stable at around the $3 billion mark. When the survey started in 2004, the industry spend was calculated at $2.2 billion. Globally, 66% of airports report an expected increase in IT investment for 2007 with 10% anticipating a drop.

The survey indicates that many airports are planning projects which support passenger self-service such as self-boarding at gates, mobile passenger check-in and kiosk check-in but that investment in security-related projects is of equal importance.

More than a quarter of respondents plan to use biometric technology by the end of the year for access control of employees but when it comes to passenger processing, uptake has been much slower. Initiatives at border controls and security checkpoints within airports will only be at the 15% and 9% level respectively by year end.

A major change since last year’s survey is the jump from 9% of respondents to 25% that have already deployed common-use self-service (CUSS) kiosks or check-in kiosks which serve multiple airlines.

Around 30% of kiosks globally are of the common-use type with 70% dedicated to a single airline and this proportion is expected to move to 40/60 over the next two years suggesting airlines, as well as airports, are starting to acknowledge the benefits of sharing infrastructure and costs.