Airport Business

APR 2018

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TECHNOLOGY By Benét Wilson IT Technology Can Strengthen Your Airport A recent study shows airports can see major gains by implementing modern IT technology. Airports and airlines need to recognize that having robust IT systems in place at terminals can help facilitate a significant benefit that can improve the passenger experience, according to a new report from Madrid-based IT provider Amadeus. The company tapped Miami-based consultancy Frost and Sullivan to explore how airports can use the latest IT technology to strengthen their value propositions. John Jarrell is the head of IT for Amadeus and Alexander Michael, one of the authors of the report, is director of consulting, digital transformation at Frost and Sullivan. "We commissioned the report because we are committed to help make the airport of the future a reality," Jarrell said. "We wanted to take a more sophisticated approach to see how modern IT can be a differentiator for airports, airlines and passengers." Frost & Sullivan engaged 50 airports and interviewed 18 airports, airlines and industry experts in writing the report. Frost and Sullivan chose airports to have a fair representation from different regions across the country, said Michael. "So we balanced among hub, regional and larger airports with different shares of connecting traffic. We also looked at airports with different ownerships and different competitive profiles," he explained." That was complicated, but we managed to get everyone well represented and were able to draw parallels." So why was now the time to release this report? "We can safely say that the airline industry has been through a lot and has come out on the other side," said Jarrell "So they now have time to focus on quality and defining what that means to passengers. They are very deep in what the definition of their value proposition is, and that trend is strong." In many situations, airlines will only define strong value propositions if they cooperate with airports and other stakeholders who operate in the environment, said Jarrell. Another point is that there's relatively new IT technology, including products from Amadeus, on the market for airports now, said Jarrell. "Airports typically haven't had software with cloud options in the past. So now is the time to look at how to make those investments and see how they can help a value proposition," he said. "This is all happening right now, so this was a good time to do the study." The opportunity to define more comprehensive value propositions underpinned by IT, but airport IT by its nature is very complex. How to integrate the latest technology to achieve the digital transformation really depends on the airport and its needs, said Jarrell. "There are different ways to approach this — in the cloud or on local servers. We know airports have limited budgets, so they need to invest in IT where it can best help them," said Jarrell. "Our paper shows that IT can be a key differentiator when it comes to a value proposition. So, for example, if you're focused on trying to attract new traffic, having solutions that are quick and easy to be implemented can be beneficial." Some airlines may have excess capacity they may want to deploy if the cost to do it isn't massive, said Michael. "If the cost to start up a route is high, it's not worth it, and they will be less likely to experiment in the future," he said. Airports now have access to modern technology options like software and cloud-based solutions, said Jarrell. "Take the [common-use self-service] approach. You need servers onsite and people to manage them," he noted. "But if you put them in the cloud, you don't need the servers and managers anymore. And it's low cost to turn it on." Smaller airports with tight budgets can take advantage of investments they've already made and have a lower cost of entry, said Jarrell. Even in the current cost environment, airlines are inclined to look to at reducing their costs at airports, so facility operators may have to sell the IT value proposition, which the report touches on quite well, said Jarrell. "If an airport and and airline shift their focus to on passengers, it helps take down barriers and arguments about cost," he observed. Read more at www.AviationPros.com/ 12384864 John Jarrell is the head of IT for Amadeus, left, Alexander Michael, director of consulting, digital transformation, Frost and Sullivan Amadeus 50 airportbusiness April 2018

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