2021 in review: the air transport industry must bake sustainability into its transformation

Sustainable Travel

In 2021, the air transport industry has been forced to adapt nearly all operations to adhere to rapidly changing regulations and travel requirements, from health status verifications to fluctuating border controls based on virus hotspots and emerging new COVID-19 variants like Omicron.

It has also been a year punctuated with extreme weather events, including an unprecedented deep freeze in Texas and record heatwaves in Canada. The year ended with the COP26 summit articulating a vast volume of work that needs to happen immediately to avoid climate catastrophe.

Sébastien Fabre, CEO, SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, examines the five critical travel technology trends emerging from the pandemic and set to transform the industry in 2022 and beyond. He calls for sustainability to be baked into today’s essential industry transformation.

1. Automation and digital health are the keys to industry recovery

Despite airport and airline IT budgets being slashed by the COVID-19 crisis, spending on automation of passenger processing is seeing a rise. The industry continues to battle new challenges with COVID-19 variants, and while there are many hurdles that must be overcome to stimulate global travel, the need for low-touch and efficient operations grows stronger. Automation and digitization are crucial to give passengers the confidence and control back to travel efficiently and reduce processing times to acceptable levels. Biometric technology offers an essential solution to address this issue with airports around the world investing in future-proofing operations.

In addition to automated passenger processing, we need to standardize and digitalize health verification to ensure easier, safer, and more seamless travel in the face of ongoing health concerns. In November 2021, SITA announced that to support the recovery of the travel industry, it will make its Digital Travel Declaration solution – which allows passengers to share required travel and health documentation with governments ahead of travel – available to governments free of charge globally. This is aimed at addressing the global challenge of submitting and verifying health documentation which remains a major impediment to the recovery of the global travel industry.

2. Airport operational efficiency and sustainability will work in harmony
Agility, scalability, and operational efficiency have become critical considerations for airports’ business models amid the fast-changing environment imposed by the pandemic.

This is an excerpt from an article by Sébastien Fabre, originally published by Travel Daily News

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