Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Mar 12, 2018
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IATA takes the initiative with NEXTT


(Photo above: IATA’s Hemant Mistry)

[Editor’s note: This is the sixth part of a multi-part series on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) by CTP’s Quebec editor, Mike Dunbar. This week, find out what the New Experience Travel Technologies initiative is all about.]

When one looks at the world’s top 100 airports, in terms of passenger volume, nearly all will need some sort of major infrastructure project with the next decade, but can that infrastructure be built fast enough to meet demand, given the issues related to planning approval, plus the costs and complexity of building ever-larger facilities?
And are the airports, when developing their infrastructure plans, really making the best use of technology and advanced processes?
Those are the questions that prompted IATA to determine that a new way of providing capacity is needed to ensure that the best use is made of that technology and those advanced processes and then building the necessary infrastructure around them and not the other way round as is largely done today.
Enter the New Experience Travel Technologies – or NEXTT initiative – that was debuted at a recent press briefing in IATA’s Geneva offices.
Hemant Mistry, the association’s director of global airport development and fuel explained, “What we are doing is not just looking at the transformation of airports. It’s not just about the flight. We are looking at the transformation of the complete ground journey from home to destination.”
According to Mistry the NEXTT concepts fall into three main focus areas – off-airport activities, advanced processing and interactive decision making.
He said, “The vision is that the majority of processes will occur off-airport in a location that best suits the customer and will happen in both a virtual and physical sense.”
“Activities that historically required a manual check could occur as a digital process and for those elements still requiring a physical interface, distributed locations throughout cities could be used, improving customer convenience and alleviating airport processing pressure.”
Mistry added, “Most critically, airports should be highly connected to the cities they serve. The air sector needs to become an integrated component of a complete journey which may use several transport modes and the locations to drop off baggage will be numerous, secure and convenient; plus passengers will be able to start their journeys from these secure entry gates within the city.”
And he revealed that discussions on a pod-to-plane concept have already been held with Dubai Airport.
As far as advanced processing is concerned, Mistry noted, “There remains great potential to further improve customer experience, bring greater operational efficiency and increase safety and security with greater use of the technology available today. The opportunities for automation and robotics are numerous given the repetitive nature of many processes.”
He explained, “Establishing identity at a touchpoint should be efficient and friction-free. This requires the technology to capture identity data and robust identity management systems to authenticate the data captured.”
And he pointed out, “Digital automation has made check-in functions invisible for many passengers and self-service equipment automates several other touchpoints at the airport.”
The Interactive decision-making focus will involve better use of data and communications, be it interactions between passenger, airline and airport, baggage handler and airport or airline and ground handler said Mistry.
“Coordinating data sources using distributed ledger technologies or cloud applications should also allow customers to access real-time tracking of flights and baggage, providing control and peace of mind,” he stated.
“Additionally,” said Mistry, “The real benefit of increasing the situational awareness and range of available information comes from the decisions that can be made as a result.”
“The rationale for deploying more sophisticated real-time decision-making tools is three-fold: Enabling greater choice and flexibility for customers, driving optimum process efficiency and triggering compliance, security or other checks on the basis of need rather than default.”
The NEXTT project is proceeding in partnership with Airports Council International along with activity support via initiatives at Dubai, Heathrow, Bangalore, Schiphol, and Shenzhen airports.