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SWISS Adopts AI For Passenger Counts, Speeding Up Boarding

SWISS recently completed successful trials of its new digital passenger counting procedure for flight boarding. As a result, the airline plans to replace its current manual counts with an AI-based system starting in 2024.

SWISS Airlines Passenger on a jetbridge, boarding aircraft.

With this new approach, SWISS aims to eliminate the need for manual passenger counts, streamlining the boarding experience for all travelers. This AI-based process will improve efficiency and speed up boarding. It will also enhance passengers’ comfort and reduce the workload of the cabin crew.

The airline has chosen Berlin-based start-up Vion AI GmbH to provide the proven IT solution for this innovative procedure. The implementation will begin in the third quarter of 2024 for short-haul flights, followed by the fourth quarter for long-haul flights.

SWISS assures customers that it will strictly adhere to Swiss and European data protection regulations, ensuring the security of the boarding process.

A Step Forward In Digitalization

“In adopting this AI-based solution for counting our passengers during boarding, we’re taking another major step forward into the digital future,” says Oliver Buchhofer, SWISS’s Head of Operations. “There are a lot of advantages to this new procedure,” Buchhofer continues. “The use of artificial intelligence will help make the boarding process faster and more efficient. This in turn will reduce waiting times and give our guests a pleasanter travel experience. The new digital count will ease the workload on our cabin crews, too. And it will eliminate the kind of irregularities to which traditional manual passenger counts are susceptible, which will further enhance our security and safety margins.”

“We are proud to be working with SWISS to enhance the safety, security and efficiency of air transport at the European level,” adds Vion AI CEO Michael Busch. “Our AI-based solution is founded on in-depth AI models which we develop in-house, and which reflect our firm commitment to innovation and cutting-edge technology. It’s this that enables us to offer the aviation sector tailored solutions for applications that demand high degrees of precision and care. We’re looking forward to collaborating with SWISS; and we’re convinced that we can jointly make a vital contribution to ensuring safer, more secure and more sustainable air travel.”

Initial Trials Completed

The decision to implement a new AI-based passenger count procedure at SWISS follows a successful three-month trial earlier this year. The trials involved recording various boarding processes across different aircraft types and conditions. These recordings contributed to developing a reliable prototype. The software uses artificial intelligence (AI) to count passengers during the boarding phase.

In the coming months, SWISS and Vion AI will collaborate to enhance and refine the tested software further. This process will include cameras during boarding on selected flights. The crew members will continue to count passengers manually as an additional measure.

Data Security and Protection

SWISS attaches the highest importance to data security and data protection. All the recordings of its passenger boardings will fully comply with the strict European (GDPR) and Swiss (FADP) data protection provisions. Once used to board the aircraft, the airline deletes recordings. The airline will use data obtained solely for passenger count purposes and not for any personal identification. In addition, the airline will only record visual images, exclusively at the aircraft door area. SWISS will make no audio recordings.


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