IP takes off in airline industry

The aviation world looks set to be the world's first fully IP-enabled industry, with 93 per cent of airline locations and 87 per cent of systems favouring this type of connectivity by 2008.

That's the conclusion of airline communications specialist SITA's eighth Annual Airline Trends Survey, which was carried out in partnership with Airline Business magazine.

The survey results highlight the industry's potential leadership in this area. Today, eight out of ten airline locations boast IP connectivity, with a similar number (78 per cent) of aviation-related businesses using IP-enabled systems.

"IP is the underlying communication technology that enables many new applications, such as online reservation systems, so it has brought a radical change to air travel ever since SITA developed the first internet booking engine just over ten years ago," said Paul Coby, SITA's chairman and CIO of British Airways.

Despite its bad reputation, generally associated with delays and less-than-appetising food, the airline industry has become somewhat of an example in terms of embracing technology to improve productivity and passenger satisfaction.

In-flight communications, such as internet access, email and mobile phones, are deemed as valuable additions to the passenger experience, with 59 per cent, 58 per cent and 46 per cent respectively planning to offer these services by the end of 2008.

Furthermore, almost half of airlines have now implemented web-based check-in facilities. And, this figure is expected to grow to just under three quarters (72 per cent) by the end of next year, according to the research.

E-tickets are also gaining favour with the industry with 59 per cent of airlines currently making use of this medium and a further 31 per cent expected to join the e-ranks in the next couple of years.

In addition, 32 per cent of tickets sold worldwide today are purchased online, compared with just one fifth in 2005.

"The speed at which the industry is moving towards a self-service passenger model is clearly borne out by the technology investment priorities of airlines," said Francesco Violante, chief executive at SITA.

"Eighty per cent of airlines responding to the survey see projects with proven payback and cost savings, such as on-line booking, bar coded boarding passes and self-service check-in as their highest priority, up from 50 per cent last year.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.