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Way Forward
Way Forward

Four advances in airport technology to look out for

Jenni Reid

Airport solution providers – the people who make just about every part of your journey possible, from shops and security to airbridges and bag handling – gathered in London in March for the annual Passenger Terminal Expo. The exhibits provided an insight into what you can expect to find in the airports of tomorrow, and developments that should make travel a more seamless and enjoyable process. This is what’s in store…


Fewer bags are getting lost by airlines and airports – only 5.57 per thousand in 2017, according to aviation tech specialist SITA’s most recent report. Happily, that figure looks set to improve even further. Last year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) passed Resolution 753, which requires members to track bags at four points – handover from the passenger, loading on to the aircraft, delivery to transfer area and return to the passenger – and share tracking information with interline journey partners as needed.

While this hasn’t created a sudden transformation in practices, it is leading airports, airlines and ground handlers to invest in new technology that allows them to better track the 4.65 billion bags they carry each year.

RFID (radio-frequency identification) is one of the best ways to track bags but is still not used by a majority of airlines. Several exhibitors showing machines that can print RFID labels, such as Avery Dennison, Custom and Seikodo, explained that while the printing is more expensive, the machines used to scan them come considerably cheaper than the ones that scan barcodes (around US$2,000, compared with US$10,000), and economies of scale should mean the printing itself becomes cheaper as more airlines opt for the technology.

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July - August 2019