By Abel Orukpe, Correspondent, Lagos
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on aviation stakeholders to work together to create greater value for customers across the travel experience while enabling greater efficiency for industry participants.
IATA’s Director General Tony Tyler said this in an address to the World Passenger Symposium, which opened in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
According to him, “Airlines expect to carry some three billion passengers in 2013. And that number will double by 2030. Connectivity is a critical component of modern economies. Serving that growing demand will require innovation. We need to understand what consumers expect and what they value enough to pay for. Aviation is team effort. And that is a challenge for all industry stakeholders. Travel agents, airports, air navigation service providers, regulators, manufacturers, ground service providers, Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) and many others must work together to make each passenger journey as safe, secure, seamless and convenient as possible,”
Tyler highlighted three priority areas for cooperation to create a more seamless and more interactive modern travel experience to include simplifying airport processes with fast travel, implementing a Checkpoint of the Future (CoF) for passenger security and developing a New Distribution Capability in line with modern retailing practices.
IATA, he said is working with industry stakeholders to implement self-service options with its fast travel programme, adding that this gives passengers more control over their airport experience in six key processes: check-in, bag check, travel document scanning, boarding, flight re-booking and baggage tracing.
“IATA’s Global Passenger Survey reveals that 52 per cent of travellers are eager to print out their own bag tags at home and 77 per cent would prefer to use a self-boarding gate at an airport. Fast Travel responds to these and other consumer demands for more control over their journey,” said Tyler.
“Our 2020 vision is for a fast, seamless curb to airside experience that is predictable, repeatable, secure and globally consistent. An important component of that vision is ubiquitous one-click access to Wi-Fi at airports. This will enable travel services providers to exchange data in real-time with passengers,” Tyler added.
Such interaction, he said will provide a channel to provide passengers with options to add value to their journey as well as facilitating a smoother process when there are delays or other irregularities.
On CoF, the director general said that the project will enable a walk-through security checkpoint experience without stopping, removing items of clothing and liquids, or taking computers out of bags.
“CoF will replace today’s one-size-fits-all approach to screening with a model based on risk assessment. By focusing resources where the need is greatest we will make the system more secure and reduce the hassle for our customers,” Tyler said.
According to IATA’s Global Passenger Survey, queuing time is the most frequent complaint with security.
Key to achieving the goals of CoF is the use of passenger information that is already required by many governments for purposes of customs and immigration and that this could be supplemented with voluntary known traveller programmes.
“Sharing information about passengers is a sensitive subject, but our Passenger Survey shows that nearly three out of four air travellers would be willing to share personal information with governments to speed up security screening,” Tyler said.
CoF is moving forward in a staged approach pointing out that the initial focus is on making today’s checkpoints more efficient through such steps as introducing dedicated known traveller lanes, which can increase efficiency by up to 30 per cent .
Tyler said that trials of specific CoF components are currently being carried out, while airports, security regulators and equipment providers to join together to identify candidate airports for the first CoF trial in 2014.
On new distribution capability, Tyler also cited the need for a New Distribution Capability (NDC) to enable the industry to offer more options to customers and to reach them seamlessly regardless of distribution channel.
According to him, “The internet economy has fundamentally reshaped the ways in which sellers and consumers interact. Customers expect to be recognized when they shop online. And they are used to receiving tailored offerings based on their past purchasing behavior. Airlines are able to participate in this new model with those customers purchasing directly from their websites. They can recognize return visitors and make offers based on travel history, loyalty status, credit card brand or other metric. And customers have complete visibility of additional products and services on offer”.