Between now and 2036, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that airline passenger numbers will almost double from around 4 billion to 7.8 billion — putting huge pressure on all aspects of air transport infrastructure, including baggage operations.
A new report from air transport IT specialist SITA — Intelligent tracking: A baggage management revolution — explores how artificial intelligence (AI) could be deployed to help manage the problem.
More than 4.5 billion bags are already handled by industry baggage systems each year, so airlines, airports and their partners will have to be ready to cope with twice that number in the next 20 years, the report explains.
But with IATA’s member airlines required to keep track of every item of luggage from start to finish, effective from this month, the bag tracking data that is generated and collected will provide the industry with a rich stream of data.
This data can be combined with AI tools such as machine learning, robotics and predictive analytics to create greater efficiencies in baggage operations and to improve customer satisfaction.
“With AI, end-to-end bag tracking can be even more complete,” explained Chris Au Young, general manager of Smart Airport at Airport Authority Hong Kong. “AI-powered video analytics will be able to track the transport of baggage containers from plane-side to the baggage processing hall, providing passengers with better estimation on the baggage delivery status. We see there are opportunities to use AI in further optimising the tracking of baggage and become part of the future standard in airport operations.”
AI and tracking data can also help airlines and airports highlight patterns of delays and errors and enable steps to be taken to remove the identified issues, said Dr Simon Tomlinson, data science business engagement manager at Lancaster University.