Airlines and airports turning to AI

Airlines and airports are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies to enhance their customer service, according to new research.

The latest Air Transport IT Trends report from IT company SITA found that disruption management, chatbots and mobile services are the key areas of focus for the industry’s CIOs.

Over the next three years, 80% of airports around the world plan to invest in major programs or R&D for prediction and warning systems. These systems, based on AI, can help minimise the impact of disruption on passengers and their business.

Meanwhile, 14% of airlines and 9% of airports already use chatbots and many more are planning to introduce this technology over the next three years. By 2020, 68% of airlines and 42% of airports plan to offer AI-driven chatbot services.

Lastly, with 98% of passengers now flying with digital mobile devices, mobile app development is a top priority among airlines and airports, supporting the shift towards self-service and offering personalised information whenever and wherever it’s needed.

Over the next three years, 94% of airlines and 82% of airports plan major mobile programs or R&D. According to SITA, the main area of focus is in the commercialisation of mobile services, with airlines looking to boost both direct and ancillary sales via their apps. In fact, airlines expect sales via their mobile apps to double by 2020 and reach 17% of their total sales.

Ease of use is considered very important: streamlining mobile services into a single app to deliver a seamless experience is a priority for almost every airline (94%) and a high priority for more than half (58%).

SITA’s Chief Technology Officer, Jim Peters, said: “We know that passengers prefer to use technology and when it is well designed it can really improve the passenger experience. Airlines and airports are investing in AI and mobile programs to make services even better for the passenger, supporting sales and providing customer support, particularly during times of disruption.

“The industry is using a healthy mix of in-house and outsourced development which will combine expert and industry-specific knowledge with emerging approaches to tech offerings.”

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