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Technology can ease airport congestion

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June 1st 2018

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Airport infrastructure, or the lack of it, will be part of the discussion at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Sydney this month. Read More »

The problem has been discussed and dissected for so long that it can induce fatigue in even the most dedicated delegate, which is why IATA’s argument for using applied technology to process passengers more quickly is a very positive contribution to the discussion.

For many years the accepted wisdom has been that more and bigger physical infrastructure is the only answer to coping with the three billion passengers a year that will be passing through Asia-Pacific airports in 2036.

IATA has pointed out in our lead story, Technology Part of the Congestion Cure, that it is not possible to build enough airports in time to accommodate the coming tsunami of the region’s air passengers.

To help cope with the crisis, IATA is suggesting that while new airports are being built, the industry should focus on applying new technology to improve operations at existing airports.

“Today, if it takes 30 minutes to process a passenger from kerb side to boarding, new biometric processes could do the same procedure in 10 minutes and you have tripled your capacity,” said Vinoop Goel from IATA’s Singapore office.

“A number of airports realize this is a faster method of adding capacity than building a new terminal. You may need a new terminal in the longer term, but in the short to medium term some of these new technologies can help.”

On the other hand, increasing the flow of passengers through airports does not achieve anything if there are lengthy delays at gates.

More airports are being built or expanded, even in traditional trouble spots in Indonesia and Japan. China’s massive investment is well recognized. Recently, Jakarta and Narita have announced long delayed expansion and committed billions of dollars to the projects.

The pessimists, or the merely fatigued, will say it is too little too late. IATA has demonstrated new thinking that embraces the benefits of new technology in improving the airport experience of both passengers and staff. It is a good idea.

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