20 June 2008

Bravo Sita - Sure IT can help save money but why stop there?

Research by SITA and trumpeted by their top brass at the recent SITA event in BRU (the past week) shows that the airline industry could save a lot of money.

The report distributed this week at SITA’s Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels, includes research from Cambridge University which demonstrates that technology such as location sensing via mobile devices could save airlines up to $600 million by tracking passengers, sending messages and moving them to gates more efficiently; improving turnaround times and reducing delays.

At current growth rates, there will be five billion mobile customers by 2011 and functionality on mobile devices will be increasingly sophisticated. For the air transport industry this opens the door to a new way of doing business as mobile phones are currently used by 90% of airline passengers. Bear in mind that this would mean about north of 80% of all the world's population will have Mobile phones. No other technology in the history of the world has been so universally distributed.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA said, “These ‘digital travellers’, will have on-demand access to a range of mobile-enabled services such as real time flight updates; self-service booking, check-in and boarding; and mobile payments.”

OK so here is a challenge. Why not be really smart about it and start re-thinking the process of travel and eliminating now obsolete and useless technology components - like for example e-tickets.

Just our small direct research on an 8 million passenger airline showed savings of between $2-20 per ticket. That would return savings far in excess of the numbers mentioned here. This was conservative and didn't include the savings from removing hardware and even organizations like IATA's BSP from the stage.

Will the airlines do it? Nah - not in yours and my life time. Or will they?

Let me know what you think.

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