Survey of 100 airlines finds rapid shift towards self-service as public embraces web check-in
10/23/2007|9:12:00 AM|Etravelblackboardasia
Monday, 22 October 2007: The largest survey of its kind ever conducted in the airline industry has found that the adoption of web check-in and other self-service passenger technologies is accelerating rapidly among the billion passengers using the 100 airlines which responded to this year’s SITA and Airline Business IT Survey.

Over half of the airlines surveyed in the 9th annual Airline IT Trends Survey now offer check-in over the web and 89% expect to offer it within the next two years as the travelling public seeks to check-in off-site and avoid congested airport terminals. There is 100% implementation of web check-in among all low-cost carriers, and among the top 25 passenger carrying airlines, which responded to the survey.

The 2007 survey respondents also reported that 21% of their passengers use the web to check-in and, by the end of next year, this is expected to increase to 35%.

In addition, passengers are turning more and more to self-service kiosks to avoid queues; 37% of the traveling public is expected to use kiosks in 2007 with these numbers expected to reach 49% in 2008.

Paul Coby, Chairman of SITA, said: “Airlines are increasingly using web check-in because they want to make travel easier for their passengers. What could be simpler than going on-line and checking yourself in. Furthermore, it’s relatively easy to deploy and saves cost, so it’s a win-win for both passengers and airlines.”

Airlines have now positioned themselves to fully exploit the benefits of newer web-based technologies as the industry moves towards becoming the first completely IP-enabled global industry.

The survey shows that 60% of airlines have already completed their IP migration, which places these airlines in a very strong competitive position to exploit the technology’s lower cost. The survey also predicts that by the end of this year, 80% of airline systems and 83% of airline sites will be IP-enabled.

Cost effective services and passenger-liberating applications offered by the airlines include automatic passenger notification services, which almost half of the airlines (48%) already offer and 91% expect to offer within one to two years. By then, 52% of airlines are planning to offer self-boarding and 76% plan to implement mobile phone check-in.

E-business is now the norm for the industry with online ticket distribution representing 35% of the respondents’ total ticket sales. Additionally e-tickets are widely in use, and by the end of 2008, 86% of all tickets issued will be e-tickets. However, there are still some airlines issuing paper tickets. According to the survey, 14% of all tickets are still issued as paper tickets.

Bar-coded boarding passes, which facilitate self-service and are widely used for web check-in, are also being introduced by the airlines. The survey shows that 46% of airlines have already started eliminating the magnetic stripe boarding passes. By the end of 2008, this figure is expected to rise to 88% - almost universal adoption.

Access to technology is proving to be a key differentiator for airlines and this is reflected in the types of IT investment.

Even though investment in technology during 2007 is on the increase with 54% of respondents planning to spend more than in 2006, the percentage of revenues spent on IT by the industry continues to fall and is now at 2.1% dropping steadily from 2.5% in 2003. These figures illustrate the targeted approach airlines have adopted.

SITA Chairman, Paul Coby, concluded: “It’s not surprising to find Airline IT spending very much focused on projects with proven payback and/or cost savings. These were the highest priorities for 92% of survey respondents, last year the comparable figure was 83%. IT in the airline business, these days, is about making the whole Airline more efficient and effective, not just the 2% of the cost base that IT represents.”