Airports 4.0 - Statistics & Facts

Digitalization is a subject undergoing intense study these days. Whether it is cloud and mobile computing, the Internet of Things or block chain technologies, the development of digital technologies provides huge potential to new businesses and significant adjustments to classic businesses. The aviation industry is no exception to this with focus moving away from innovative aircraft or ambitious infrastructure projects to an emphasis on creating full digital airports. These modern digital hubs are popularly referred as Airports 4.0.


The goal for both airports and airlines is to adjust to the so called “smart passenger”. A smart passenger is always connected and treats his airport journey as an experience. These travelers prefer to eat and shop at the airport. From online booking and check-in to the end destination, staying connected is essential to these passengers’ experience.

The shift towards online booking and online check-in is on the rise and is expected to grow further. In fact, some 26 percent of airports implemented self-service bag drops in 2016. The adoption of self-service kiosks can shorten queues and reduce the dependency on airport staff.

After check-in and bag drop, passengers often face an extended waiting period which can bring negative emotions especially at security or passport control. The use of technology for passengers means taking control of their journey in order to make their dwell time more comfortable. For that, many airports are planning to implement major technologies over the coming years, such as Business Intelligence (BI) or operational intelligence capabilities but most promising is the use of beacons for a more efficient terminal flow management. Beacon technology will perform a big part in the airport digitalization as more and more airports are planning to deploy this technology at each stage of the journey for mobile notification services.

Another waiting period for the passenger is in-flight. Here, based on the length of flight, some people prefer to read or sleep. For passengers who bring their own personal device, over 90 percent of airlines are planning to provide wireless access in the next years. As the value of the global inflight Wi-Fi market is expected to reach close to five billion U.S. dollars by 2020, Wi-Fi reliability has become one of the most important factors.

Baggage operations have been improving over the past years but are still costing the global airline industry over two billion U.S. dollars every year. Some 60 percent of passenger would like to be informed about their baggage status without having to worry if their bag is going to be at the bag collection point or not. One of the main causes of a bag being mishandled is the transfer process. For this, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices at airports promise to save up more than 1.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2022 and provide real time baggage tracking and notification.

Overall, airport digitalization provides benefits not only for airport operators or airlines but also for passengers and with further trials in new technologies it can only bring additional perks. After all, facial recognition using biometric identification technology at border control is already a thing of the present, as more and more airports in the world have implemented these biometric-based e-gates.

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