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Half of the World’s Airports Now List Security as Top Priority for IT Investment

  • Airports
  • 3 min read

Airports are prioritising IT investments for passenger and airport security.

According to the 2016 Airport IT Trends Survey, the extensive annual study of IT trends within the global airport industry co-sponsored by SITA and Airports Council International (ACI), in association with Airline Business, 50% of the world’s airports now rate IT investments in security a high priority, up from 37% last year.

The 13th annual SITA Airport IT Trends reflects the views of more than 225 airports who together manage 36% of the global traffic or 2.3 billion passengers. This year, 50% of survey respondents came from airports within the Top 100 in terms of revenue.

Responding to Threats with Smart Technology

The shift to security is a response to heightened regional tensions, some of which directly target air travel.

Investment in passenger processing technology is still ranked as the top priority for airports, it has dropped from 73% of airports making it the number one priority in 2015 to 59% of airports this year, as the focus on security systems rises.

“The technology trends at airports reflect the changing world. Investments to support passenger and airport security are up while the increasing demands of the connected traveler for self-service and mobile services are also being met,” says Matthys Serfontein, SITA Vice President, Airport Solutions.

Self-Service and Mobile Dominate

SITA’s research also shows that for the first time the majority of airports around the world offer self-service check-in for both passengers and bags.

Self-service is expected to dominate in future with two-thirds of the world’s airports planning major IT investments in this area.

The growing influence of mobile is significant. Nearly every airport around the world (90%) is either carrying out a major mobile platform program or a trial project related to mobile services.

  • 74% of airports are trialling or piloting context-aware and location-based technology in the next five years.

“This year we see a shift where airports are also looking to technology to generate non-aeronautical revenue,” says Serfontein. “By 2019, 84% hope to make money by enabling the purchase of airport services through their mobile app.”

Kiosks As Revenue Builders

Airports are also looking at kiosks for uses beyond check-in and bag drop, as potential revenue generators.

A very small number of airports today have kiosks which let passengers download digital content, such as the latest films, before they board the flight. By 2019, 30% of the world’s airports plan to offer downloadable entertainment content. During the same period, 42% of airports also expect to have kiosks which enable other sales transactions.


The increased focus on security has also lead to a spike in interest in biometric technology, to support fast and secure passenger processing.

More than one-third of airports will invest in single biometric travel token projects in the next five years, and the majority (52%) will do so this decade.

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