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Contactless Travel: The Future of Airports With Self-Service Technology


Author: Jasmeet Bhatia

Date: February 7, 2024

Contactless Travel: The Future of Airports With Self-Service Technology

It is 2024. Today, airports play an important role in a India’s economy both locally and globally – and their influence is only bound to increase as the aviation industry grows. The digital airports sector is growing at a rapid pace – over 10% domestically and about 5% internationally, with 50+ new airports coming up in the next decade. According to an Oliver Wyman analysis, the commercial aviation fleet is expected to expand globally by 33% by 2033.

It’s only a small matter of time before we will witness a paradigm shift in the evolution of airport ecosystems. Especially with APOC (Airport Operations Control Centre) in airports. The way travellers move will change significantly in the coming decades as global priorities are redefined as new technologies become available.

But with new opportunities to conquer benchmarks and set records come new challenges that need to be addressed. One of the biggest challenges for airports today is embracing, fully adopting and maintaining self-service technology that facilitates contactless travel. In the past decade, the industry has witnessed significant changes in favour of automation and digitization of airport operations. Still, there is a long way to go to integrate all available data into one big comprehensive information lake, visualize the data and interpret it in real time in a way that adds value to day‑to‑day operations. (One such way is the APOC).

Contactless Travel: From Fancy To Necessity

Let’s take a step back for a second. Contactless technology isn’t a new concept. In the last decade, we have witnessed a steady increase in its use across various sectors. In fact, “smart data capture“, “beyond the boarding pass”, and “frictionless, personalized passenger experiences” were already the buzz words in the mid-2010s. It was only in 2020 that self-service technology fully came into play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the need to boost safety measures and eliminate the need to touch products, equipment and surfaces, every industry suddenly realized the importance of touchless technology. Especially the airport industry, where the technology went from being a luxe facility to a necessary measure for passenger safety and restoring passengers’ confidence in returning to airports.

Staying Ahead of The Curve In Self-Service Technology

At WAISL, we’ve always believed in being three steps ahead of the demands of the aviation sector. Long foreseeing the fact that self-service technology would underpin the foundation of digital airports of the future, we had innovated a bouquet of cutting-edge solutions (for example, APOC in airports) that paved the way for many digitization undertakings, allowing our customers to boost their operational efficiency, create avenues for more revenue and elevate passenger convenience.

Self-Service Technology Offered By WAISL

Digifly

Built on the backbone of the APPS, DigiFly helps airport operators facilitate a seamless passenger experience from entry gate to boarding gate. It combines together all the key passenger day-of-journey attributes into one, single view at all touchpoints throughout the airport journey. Airport operators, airlines, security, and ground staff need not worry about manually checking boarding passes, identity, or fragmented customer information points. DigiFly has ready API connectors built for swift integration with e-gates, facial capture devices, scanners, kiosks at airports, and other peripheral devices. The solution is integrated with AODB, BHS, APOC and leading airline DCSs on the backend.

Self Check-in:

This technology by WAISL allows passengers to self-check in at a certain time prior to boarding. Using kiosks, passengers can choose their seats, check in, and print their boarding passes many hours before departure – all without any human-to-human interaction.

Self Baggage Drop (SBD)

Let’s be honest. Standing in serpentine check-in queues is a frustrating experience for a passenger that eventually results in lost airport revenues as every extra minute spent checking in for a flight is the time that he/she could have enjoyed in the duty-free shops and cafés. Our SBD solution simplifies and streamlines the check-in process for passengers and the airport. It also allows passengers to have a smooth drop-off process, with no lines or complicated procedures, ensuring passengers’ belongings arrive where they must. The best part? It can easily integrate with the APOC.

E-Gates

A biometric artificial intelligence boarding check compares a live image of a passenger’s face with one previously taken. The previous picture may come from a source such as a government-issued ID or a photo taken earlier during check-in procedures.
WAISL’s e-gate solution enables airports to provide contactless, self-service security and identification checks at departure and arrival gates without the need for security staff. It reads identity information from a passenger’s biometric passport (ePassports) or other smart ID cards and uses biometric technology in airports such as fingerprint scanning and facial (iris) recognition to verify the passenger’s identity.

Contactless Travel – The Way Forward

Today, the definition of contactless air travel involves a series of manual interactions, from check-in counters to security screenings and boarding gates. However, the landscape is evolving, and the future of APOC airports will rewrite this definition. The catalysts for this change are new-age technologies such as:

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

This innovation involves the use of software robots or “bots” emulating human movement. RPA will be at the forefront of automating repetitive processes, reducing queues, and performing common tasks, minimizing the need for human touchpoints. The result? A more efficient and contactless passenger journey from start to finish.

Automated Content Extraction (ACE)

The global passenger volume in 2023 is approximately 8.6 billion passengers, which is 94.2% of the 2019 level. In the recent Wings India 2024 conference and exhibition, it has been forecasted that by 2030 India’s domestic air passenger traffic will reach 300 million – that’s, almost twice the current figure (153 million in 2023). Given such staggering statistics, airports are transforming the way they handle vast amounts of data. From passport verification to health and safety checks, ACE ensures the swift extraction of relevant information, enabling faster and more accurate processing of passenger details. This technology is a key player in creating a personalized, contactless travel experience tailored to individual needs.

No-code/Low-code development

Eliminating the pre-requisite of extensive technical knowledge, no-code/low-code platforms are changing how airport stakeholders operate. From touchless check-ins to mobile apps providing real-time updates, these platforms facilitate the development of contactless solutions that empower airport staff to create or easily adapt custom applications, reduce downtime and, most importantly, reduce language barriers for passengers. All of which together lead to contactless travel.

Looking ahead, the era of contactless travel propelled by self-service technology is ushering in a new chapter for the aviation industry and new-age technologies such as the APOC. The marriage of innovation and passenger empowerment is transforming airports into dynamic hubs of efficiency and safety. Needless to say, any airport ecosystem that aspires to be a smart, global leader rather than a mere stakeholder in this industry will need to leverage the expertise of next-gen technologies and airport IT solutions.

Over the past decade, WAISL’s self-service technology and insightful data-driven interventions have provided a seamless travel experience to over 150 million passengers per annum and supported 80+ domestic and international airlines. This has enabled airports to be rated among the best-in-class service providers by Skytrax and ACI awards. And earned us a place amongst the top airport management companies.

With over a decade of experience in developing, building, and operationally running IT-driven environments like airport operations, cargo operations, retail environments and smart cities, WAISL helps create smarter, safer and more sustainable airport ecosystems.

Are you in search of cutting-edge self-service airport technology solutions? Like, for instance, the APOC? Drop us a message at [email protected], and one of our representatives will get in touch with you.


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