Smart Airports: How Istanbul Airport Is Leading The Way

Istanbul Airport, home to Turkish Airlines, has been awarded the “Digital Transformation Award” by Airports Council International (ACI) as a part of the 16th ACI Europe Awards. The accolade comes in recognition of the airport’s digital transformation and technological innovations, making it one of the world’s ‘smartest’ airports.

Istanbul Airport
Istanbul Airport has been awarded the “Digital Transformation Award” by Airports Council International (ACI) Photo: Istanbul Airport

Turkey’s smartest airport

For Istanbul Airport, being awarded the Digital Transformation Award by ACI is a testament to the investment and innovation that has taken place. Identifying itself as ‘Turkey’s smartest airport’ is a modest proposal when the scale of the transformation is considered.

Alongside traditional airport services, IST offers its customers critical digital facilities, including e-passport gates, smart translation services, bespoke mobile apps, smart parking, smart security, and even robot assistants. The scaling up of contactless, smart, technology-led services couldn’t have come at a better time for passengers, as they strive to distance themselves from physical contact.

Istanbul Airport
The digital transformation at IST has touched every point of the journey. Photo: Istanbul Airport

Kadri Samsunlu, the Chief Executive Officer of İGA Airport Operation, commented on the receipt of the award, saying,

“The most important demand of our passengers is to experience digital travel… In this respect, we have placed digitalization and technology at the centre of Istanbul Airport, from the very beginning.

“We have been using artificial intelligence at every point of our business processes from the very first day, aiming for a continuous increase in productivity. We have also activated tracking mechanisms at our airport with the help of an internet of things (IoT) technology.

“That we have been awarded the ‘Digital Transformation Award’ by Airport Council International (ACI) as a part of “16th ACI Europe Awards” stands as a concrete evidence and an exciting indication of us following the right path towards our goals.”

The investment in smart technology at IST is on a scale that is hard to comprehend. Some 3,000 monitors provide visual information to passengers, utilizing nine petabytes of data. This is channeled through 4,500 km of copper cabling and 1,700 km of fiberoptic pathways.

What makes IST so smart?

Istanbul Airport has invested in a plethora of smart technologies, with a goal of improving the passenger journey and making air travel a more pleasurable experience. Technologies range from the simple to the jawdropping, with every stage of the travel process being enhanced in some way.

Istanbul Airport
Self bag-drop is just the tip of the iceberg. Photo: Istanbul Airport

To name just a few, the airport uses geo-location technologies and GPS beacons to give passengers directions to points in the airport. This technology can also be used to provide walking times to gates and alerts when their flights begin to board. Check-in is also simplified with a self-bag drop system, speeding up the process, and limiting personal contact.

For airport retailing, Istanbul has led the way in creating a smooth, efficient, and memorable experience. Technologies implemented here include 3D holograms, smart shopping carts that can also charge personal devices, mobile cash registers, and more. Shoppers can even use a ‘magic mirror’ app to see virtually how things like makeup, clothes, and watches look on them without the need to try them on.

Istanbul Airport
Improvements to retail make the airport experience one to remember. Photo: Istanbul Airport

The smart revolution doesn’t end on the passenger side, either. Out on the airfield, 40,000 LED lights make it easier than ever to visually guide aircraft around the airport. This makes aircraft routing to and from gates highly optimized and increases the safety of movements on the field. It also tackles the age-old problem of bad weather, allowing the airport to continue to operate even with a Runway Visual Range of just 50 meters.

Istanbul Airport
Smart improvements have made aircraft movements safer and more efficient too. Photo: Istanbul Airport

Ersin Inankul, Deputy General Manager of İGA Airport Operations for Digital Services and Commerce, explained that, for Istanbul Airport, the belief in the power of digital transformation remains key.

“It is a great honour for me and my team to be deemed as ‘the Best in Europe’ in such a hard category and among the other international airports, despite being a new airport. We feel very proud and excited to have brought such a significant award to our country. We have always believed in the power of digital transformation.”

Have you passed through Istanbul Airport recently? What did you think of all the ‘smart’ improvements? Let us know in the comments.

74 Shares: