Airlines and airports in China are embracing artificial
intelligence and automation to provide the
self-service experience that many passengers are demanding.
to the SITA 2019 China IT Insights report, China’s airlines
and airports are using these technologies to expand mobile
services and automating the journey with self-service every step
of the way.
A key technology that is attracting investment
is artificial intelligence (AI). SITA’s China IT Insights reveals
that 88% of both airlines and airports are planning major
programs, or R&D, with AI by 2022 and they are focusing on virtual
agents and chatbots.
This investment matches the demands from
passengers. SITA’s research of passengers in China shows that 64%
of them want a digital travel concierge. Already nearly half (43%)
of airlines in China have AI-driven chatbot customer services and
the planned investment should see the availability of them rising
quickly over the coming years.
May Zhou, Vice President and General Manager of
SITA China, speaking at the SITA China Air Transport IT Summit in
Nanning, said, “China’s airlines and airports have a strong record
in embracing technology and automation to drive efficient
operations and high levels of passenger services. Now they are
moving to the next level where they will harness artificial
intelligence to deliver more services, faster and to more people.”
For passengers of China’s airlines and airports,
self-service has reached a strong level of maturity, but a
step-change is coming as biometrics is being adopted. Today, 27%
of airports have self-boarding gates using biometrics with travel
documents but in just three years this will jump to 66%. And more
than half of the airports have plans for secure single biometric
tokens for all touch points by 2022. Airlines too are committing
to self-boarding gates using biometrics with ID, 60% are planning
to use them driving a secure and seamless passenger experience
right through the airport with the next three years.
Zhou added, “The adoption of self-service by
passengers across China has been very encouraging for airlines and
airports. At SITA, we see many in the industry who are now ready
and planning to add biometrics to bring self-service to the next
Mobile services are vital to meet China
passengers’ demands and by 2022, all airlines and 93% of airports
are planning investments in them. Services including flight
discovery, airline offers, check-in and flight status
notifications via mobile are already provided by all airlines. One
fifth are also using mobiles to sell newspapers, magazines and
movies/TV to passengers.
Airports too are investing in mobile services to
offer a more personalized experience for passengers. Services
including, notifications about flight and airport status, and
customer relationship management are well established and are
offered by up to 81% of airports. Keeping the passenger informed
and connected is not only what China’s airports are providing via
mobile, they are also facilitating mobile payments. Close to three
quarters enable passengers to buy airport services and allow
cashless payments via mobile. This hyper-personalized service via
mobile confirms it as a vital tool for China passengers.
The report highlights that blockchain technology
is another key area of investment for airlines, today only 24%
have major programs, or R&D, planned but this is set to jump to
80% by 2022. This is in line with the recent trends and
commitments to blockchain technology in the country.