China’s airports are getting smarter and moving ahead of global competitors on the application of smart technologies including mobile and social applications, a new report from the global provider of aviation information technology, SITA, indicates.

The drive towards higher levels of investment, compared to global competition, in smart technologies for China’s airports and airlines is driven both by the growing population of air travelers placing and by those passengers actively mobile lifestyle.

“Despite recent economic challenges, China’s population continues to travel and passengers are demanding more from airlines and airports,” SITA states.

  • 72% of airports in mainland China are investing in new technology, compared to 58% globally
  • Airlines in China are spending 38% of their IT budget on innovation compared to a global average of 32%
  • 93% of passengers have smartphones and are eager to use personal electronic devices throughout the journey

SITA believes these highly mobile passengers will lead more to “off-airport” check-in with fewer passengers wanting face-to-face interaction at this stage of the journey.

  • only 28% of passengers want to use the airport counter to check-in for their flight
  • 59% of passengers would rather use their own technology to check-in for their next flight
  • 67% of passengers want to use their smartphones for travel identification, boarding, and access to airport lounges

Chinese travelers also expect that the experience throughout the journey will keep up with their lifestyle at home, which includes digital self-service.

“Change does not happen overnight, it is going to take time for the industry to deploy the infrastructure and services in a way that enables mass adoption by passengers,” says May Zhou, SITA Vice President and General Manager, China.

“But change is coming, one area we see this happening is of the development of ‘Smart Airports’ where new technology such as sensors, beacons and business intelligence are used to deliver efficiencies. Investments are now being made. Over the next couple of years, 85% of airports are planning projects in sensor technologies while 82% plan to have business intelligence initiatives for passenger flow in place.”

  • 62% of China’s airports already provide real-time information and notifications via social media
  • 72% of Chinese passengers want mobile information on their luggage including carousel, and wait time for bag collection.
  • Only a few airlines and airports offer that now, but SITA says 86% of airlines will provide baggage tracking notifications in the next few years and 57% will provide baggage collection information

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