How Cloud Technology Will Help Airports Adapt To The New Climate

In the modern era, cloud computing is as standard as an Excel spreadsheet in many industries. However, when it comes to truly making the most of the technology, there is plenty of room for growth in aviation. Nonetheless, those behind the digital systems of this market have been making great strides in this field and are recognizing the advantages to be had for airlines and airports to ramp up cloud usage across the globe.

SITA Cloud
Passengers would have noticed several new systems in place since returning to the skies after being on the ground for several months, but there could be more significant changes in this next chapter. Photo: SITA

Development prospects

Several aviation sectors have put cloud-based systems to good use. For instance, cloud computing has been helping carriers launch routes more swiftly. Additionally, these systems have helped to make general passenger processes more efficient.

Regardless, it has notably been the larger global hubs that have progressed the most with cloud technology. However, SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques), the leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology, highlights that small and medium-sized airports have the same needs as the powerhouses in the current climate.

Both regional and international passengers require the same digital experience and related benefits at the airport. Moreover, the expectations of the airline are becoming increasingly higher when it comes to digitalization. It’s also important to note the needs of aviation partners such as service and travel partners. As a result, the utilization of cloud technology is being scaled up across the board.

The maturation of cloud processes has allowed organizations to implement modern systems affordably and securely. Airports can deploy “shared common-use approaches” reasonably while cutting down on space, maintenance, and infrastructure. Departments such as check-in, bag drop, and off-airport processing are making use of this technology.

Rolls-Royce BR-715 engine-intake and trailing-edge of the wing of a Boeing 717-200 flying through clouds during the 1999 Paris-Airshow
Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources without the direct management by the user, saving costs, speeding up processes, and increasing reliability, mobility, scalability, and security. Photo: Getty Images

Meeting requirements

Sergio Colella, SITA President Europe, spoke with Simple Flying about the plethora of solutions available to airports to help them adapt to ever-changing conditions. Ultimately, while airports previously primarily focused on the security, cost, and speed benefits, the pandemic brought new requirements to the industry and is now catalyzing the adoption of cloud computing.

“COVID has accelerated an existing trend towards automation of the passenger journey, where your mobile is your remote control for travel and your face acts as your boarding card. Smart Path, together with SITA Flex, enable that experience. SITA Smart Path is a suite of integrated biometric and cloud-enabled solutions designed to enable a low-touch airport experience for greater efficiency and improved passenger satisfaction, allowing passengers to interact with all airport touchpoints via their mobile devices,” Colella told Simple Flying.

“For example, Rome Fiumicino Airport uses our Smart Path technology and allows you to board using your biometric. At Beijing Capital International Airport, SITA Smart Path significantly speeds up passenger processing (e.g., 400+ passengers can board an Airbus A380 in less than 20 minutes). Smart Path also allows passengers to scan their face rather than fumble for their boarding card when doing duty-free shopping.”

NEC Corp Trials New Face Recognition System At Narita International Airport
Both SITA Flex and Smart Path look to cut down on unnecessary touchpoints, making use of cloud and biometric systems. Photo: Getty Images

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Plenty to cover

The advantages of cloud tech can be found across the wider aviation spectrum. Both airlines and passengers can benefit from these solutions on several levels.

Modern platforms enable real-time, reliable collaboration at scale in a cloud-based environment. As a result, the aviation industry is innovating to create new ways of working together around the world. It is evolving present solutions and infrastructure in a cost-effective manner.

The market is embracing cloud and the re-use of it. This technology has the ability to easily integrate into current environments. It can also be retrofitted and future-proofed while becoming more agile to manage increased volatility, using shared services, on-demand.

Ryanair, Kiwi.com, Airline Tickets
Due to the wave of new travel requirements following the rise of the global health crisis and the associated restrictions, airports of all sizes need to evolve and introduce new systems to keep passengers moving efficiently. Photo: Getty Images

The right tools at hand

SITA notes that its cloud platforms meet the requirements for operations at the airport and for the aircraft to be more price-sensitive, responsive, and resilient. This factor enables the agility to adapt quickly to the volatility caused by demand fluctuations.

  • The SITA Flex cloud platform offers mobile-enabled common-use technology to facilitate contactless customer processing and improve operational efficiency, supporting the staged rollout of cloud-based systems.
  • SITA Connect SDN aids the market’s determination to migrate applications to the cloud.
  • SDN (Software Defined Networking) offers application-led networking that provides quicker, more resilient, and agile connectivity, supporting cloud-native apps. It allows multiple airlines, ground handlers, and other tenants to access the same virtualized infrastructure in the cloud.
  • SITA’s Omnichannel Contact Services (OCS) help address passenger needs during times of disruption, informing and reassuring them through many different channels. Cloud-based and easy to adopt, they allow agents to work remotely and assist travelers virtually.

Overall, there is a range of solutions that SITA has introduced to help airports adapt. With safety and security the focal point of operations in the current era, stakeholders in the aviation industry will undoubtedly be keen to keep the momentum going with cloud utilization.

The likes of Air New Zealand are betting big on cloud tech, while Etihad has shared praise for the field’s capabilities to improve the passenger experience. All in all, cloud computing will combine well with broader initiatives such as biometrics and mobile applications to help airports and airlines serve passengers smoothly in this crucial stage of recovery.

What are your thoughts about the aviation industry’s deployment of cloud technology? What do you make of the prospects of these systems across airports? Let us know what you think of the initiatives in place in the comment section.

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