There are plenty innovations that address aspects of airport operations, from improving information exchange and decision-making, to enhancing passenger processing, air traffic control and meteorological forecasting. Here are some indicative innovations:

Airport Operations and Processing

Traveler traffic management

The time spent in a long security line - and uncertainty as to how long it will take to get through - can be one of the most stressful parts of an air passenger’s journey. Indicative examples: smart gates that are self-service, come at no extra cost to passengers and can be used without the need for prior registration; robotic assistants to help passengers when they get a little lost with the overwhelming amount of signage, burdened by a huge number of complex gates, waiting areas and retail outlets (

Baggage Drop

IATA Resolution 753 has been put together to implement an improved solution to track passenger baggage ( There are four main points at which baggage will be monitored and recorded, and airlines will have to know where the bag is in its network to comply with the new regulation. Indicative examples are self-service baggage drop systems.

Airport tower control

Controllers in airport towers rely on being able to see aircraft taxiing, taking off and landing in order to manage them safely and efficiently. It is important to enhance air traffic control operations. Using, for example, augmented reality technologies, controllers can have a heads-up view of the airport traffic, call sign and aircraft type, supplemented by additional information, such as wind velocity and direction, airport layout and runway status, even during low-visibility procedures (

Airport vehicle movements

Airports are complex places, especially when it comes to managing the movements of aircraft and a myriad of service vehicles. For example, such innovations are highly automated functions for guiding the controllers towards an optimised management of the movements of airport vehicles (


Parking at an airport is an aspect of air travel that is often overlooked during the process of booking a trip, yet becomes far more important as the date of departure draws near ( The challenges are clear: a shorter time frame between arriving at the airport and disembarking onto the flight, the ability to pay for only the exact amount of time spent in the carpark and a less stressful travelling experience. Smart parking and automation offer a signpost to the future for parking at airports. Robots are revolutionising the parking experience for passengers and delivering substantial revenue gains for airports. Automated carparks offer an enticing proposition: minimal effort and maximum convenience for customers and the ability to save money and make better use of space for airports.

Driverless Transport

Autonomous shuttle systems have been commonplace for several years now. However, this area of the market is set to expand considerably and could factor in other aspects of the airport experience, including parking.

Passenger Experience

Wider adoption of a self-service journey

Airports are moving closer towards a complete self-service journey for passengers. Many trials have taken place in this area of passenger processing, and there has been great success for ‘single point’ self-service applications. Biometrics will play an important part in the implementation of an end-to-end self-service experience (

Seamless walkthrough

Airports are moving closer towards a complete self-service journey for passengers, integrating all travel checkpoints so that passengers only have to identify themselves once.

New technology and data-driven services

VR has entered the consumer market in a major way over the past half-decade. AR is also more commonplace, with increasingly powerful smartphone hardware making it possible to augment the user’s surroundings for practical purposes or pure entertainment.

Mobility as a service

New services that offer door-to-door transport information service to passengers, from the city centre all the way to the gate. Such innovations combine transport services and traffic information with airport way-finding and flight updates and give passengers a full view of their journey (

Retail Management

Differentiation in airport stores

Regardless of price positioning, all retailers need to offer an appropriate mix of convenience, engagement, value and customer service to succeed in the airport environment. There’s a clear opportunity to leverage technology to innovate in order to reach, engage, and maintain the consumer. Many of the key innovations within retail currently focus on maximizing the speed and convenience of shopping through enhanced technology. Technology-enhanced retail, combined with an emphasis on show-rooming and customer experience, is providing a platform for innovation by creating new approaches to formats, store size, logistics, and inventory management (

Adapting offer to passenger profile

Reproducing a standard duty-free offer at every airport is no longer relevant. Adapting the offer, e.g. price (high-end vs. mid-end), brands, products (color, size, etc.), to the passenger profile is now a key lever for optimizing revenues. As a result of market studies and surveys, airports and operators are now better placed than ever to select the most appropriate mix according to passenger destinations (

Holistic customer experience

To fully maximize the retail potential presented by airports, management teams must look at each experience and touch point holistically, rather than in isolated silos and departments. Each aspect of processing, flows, services, digital, retail and catering needs to be considered as one, in order to effectively plan and manage the customer experience. Airport focus has moved from functional terminal processing boxes, to high intensity retail and walk-through duty frees ((

Optimizing passenger spending

Two key objectives for airports are to increase the conversion rate and to increase time spent shopping. Some innovations are: Position “must-buy” products (core business categories) immediately after security checkpoints to ensure passengers complete their pre-planned buying first and therefore feel more comfortable when entering the second group of boutiques (diversification categories); capture those passengers that spend less time airside (business travelers, for example) by positioning last-minute offers for top-selling brands in core categories near boarding gates; develop walk-through shop; secure “time to gate” communication to reduce pressure on passengers and maximize time spent shopping (e.g. introduction of flight information panels inside the shops) (

Expanding customer target groups and diversifying sales channels

It is important for the airports to expand their customer target groups to include: 1. Non-travelers, by developing landside retail and implementing the “Airport City” concept. 2. Arrival passengers, by positioning “shop on arrival” after security checkpoints. 3. The diversification of distribution channels is also a new driver enabling operators and airports to develop sales. New services, such as “pick up on return”, home delivery and pre-order websites (link from the airport website to the operator’s gallery of products), make the airport buying experience smoother and reduce the need to display goods, saving space as a result (

Airport Security and Crisis Management

Biometric Security

Keeping airports secure is a paramount concern globally, yet with increased protective measures comes more inconvenience for travelers. This is where using biometric scanning in place of traditional identity checks could lead to the best of both worlds in terms of security and convenience in the future (

Behavioral Profiling

Possibly one of the most controversial suggestions in airport security innovation is behavioral profiling. Behavioral profiling is a method of detecting abnormal behavioral responses from travelers that may be considered “suspicious.” (


There is still a lot of coordination needed between airports and authorities to create a universal standard for this type of identification, both in how it is configured and how the data is protected (

Green Airport and Energy Saving

Energy Efficiency

Reducing running costs and minimizing the environmental impact of airports is an important challenge. The idea of using readily available resources to effect significant change and deliver cost savings is perhaps the key to pursuing airport innovation ideas going forwards (

Energy Mapping, Utilization Indices and Benchmarks

Energy Audit constitutes an efficient method for decision-making in the area of energy management. It quantifies energy usage according to its discrete functions.

Weathering the weather at airports

Adverse weather conditions can play havoc with airport operations, limiting or putting a stop to aircraft movements, runway maintenance, de-icing, tower control and even luggage handling. Having accurate meteorological data and forecasts means that airport operators can prepare for the worst in advance. Proprietary metering and modeling solutions can combine real-time and historic data to generate accurate projections that can be used to identify the most beneficial energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Indicative innovations are turning to very short-term (0-3h) probabilistic winter weather forecasts with a 15-minute-time resolution (

Organisation-wide attack on waste

It is important to support and encourage each department to take on its own energy budgets and targets. Regular reporting can bring to life the energy spend in each business unit and include recommendations on how that could be reduced. This adds a level of healthy competition between business units. Automation systems based on sensor data can guarantee plant and equipment operated to optimum schedules and temperatures, within zones.

Airport Building Energy Management

It is important to fully utilize technology advances for managing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. For example, Artificial intelligence algorithms can help automatically optimize several functions.

Modernization, Smart Airport, Big Data and Digital Technology Innovation

Big data & analytics

Airport systems today already create huge amounts of data during their daily operations. It would be easy to think that tapping into this data repository and analyzing its contents for better airport-wide resource planning would be straightforward. Some indicative innovations are (according to

• Smart Maintenance: Baggage will no longer be the burden for the passengers and one can travel freely without any hassle. The Radio-Frequency Identification helps from mishandling the baggage. Predictive analysis helps in improving the predictability of fleet reliability. The airport traffic is increasing every day and as a result, it will conclude as a threat to the aviation industry. But with the help of analytics and big data, parameters such as runway bandwidth, flight routes, types of aircraft, etc can be implied to identify the patterns as well as comparing them. The industry is working on optimizing the use of airspace.

• Cost Reduction: The introduction of analytics into the aviation industry will benefit into cost reductions in several ways such as every year lots of baggage get lost which have to be repaid by the industry, thus the airlines depend on the real-time baggage tracking data helps avoid losing or any damage or delaying bags. The data of real-time consumption of fuel is collected and analyzing it can be an efficient use of fuel as well as reducing the cost in investing it more than it needed.

• Customer Satisfaction: Customer Satisfaction is one of the main motives in any organization. The analytics and other emerging technologies have spread out their hands to help the organization with such motives. The aviation industry trying all the possible ways in the rat race by soaring in the emerging technology. With the help of predictive analysis, sentiment analysis, etc. the industry provides its customers to keep updated in real-time, promoting offers according to their choice and experience, fulfilling needs regarding their habits, etc.

• Digital Transformation: Big Data and analysis is transforming and digitizing the commercial aviation industry in order to deliver high standard services to the passengers. Passenger Technology Solutions has launched to provide the perfect platform for the custom-made technology suppliers to showcase their products and services to airlines, airports, etc. from around the globe in order to offer the passengers a more connected travel experience. The emerging technologies are lifting up the aviation industry into new heights by helping them in every possible way to fulfil the customer’s needs, real-time performance dashboards, predictive maintenance, etc.

Cloud infrastructure

The scalability of cloud solutions supports passenger processing systems perfectly, enabling greater accessibility for smaller airports to implement faster processing speeds that are enjoyed by larger airports with dedicated infrastructure in place. With cloud applications, innovations such as off-site check-in and self-service kiosks are made attainable, and thus offering the opportunity to further increase passenger experience, in addition to making operational productivity seamless and flexible (


One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of a seamless passenger journey is the siloed processes across the many stakeholders, including airlines, airports, ground handlers and control authorities. Blockchain is a way to challenge and support the barriers between these individual processes, by locking the data on a shared blockchain, as opposed to repeatedly having to consult the centralized authorities that hold your personal data, making the process much more simple and efficient. Indicative applications focused on customer experience (according to

• the Digital identity concept that is the ability to store one’s identity in a network, removing the need to show passports and other travel documents along the passenger journey;

• implementation of new booking platforms;

• a decentralized alternative to GDS (Global Distribution System), enabling airlines, and many other stakeholders in the travel industry, to get rid of the expensive computerized reservation system; the unification of rewards programmes through blockchain based platforms. Indicative application for the airport operations (according to

• The accuracy of the information can vary across the multiple parties that are involved in its update, causing confusion for passengers and airport/airline representatives alike. Passenger apps, and ground handler’s information can all be different, causing further confusion. Blockchain technology can be applied to address this issue, creating a single source of truth by updating flight information only once everyone has agreed to it.

• Drones can also impact the airport operations. Elements of collision, acts of terrorism and security breaches are all concerns that airports must face. Having drones on a blockchain is a way to avoid these problems, as they can be monitored and managed through the network.

• Cargo is another area on which Blockchain could have a huge impact as it involves many entities in complex processes with a lot of paper-work: Cargo processes based on blockchain transactions could result in operational efficiencies, service improvements and cost reductions, due to the high volume of transactions that take place in hubs.

• A blockchain-based app to replace handover documents from handlers to forwarders. Apart from improving and modernising current processes, it will also guarantee the integrity of the transactions between handlers and forwarders.

AR/ VR Technology

Virtual reality-powered (VR) systems can provide immersive VR content to air travellers at the passenger lounge. Vdeo glasses in the business lounge can offer passengers a cinema experience. Navigating large public spaces, such as shopping centres and airports, is notoriously tricky. Visitors who are unfamiliar with the layout of a building or complex will need to consult a map, rely on traditional signage or ask an employee for assistance. Augmented reality technology can streamline this process, making use of beacons which help to precisely locate a user within a particular area. An accompanying app can then deliver sat nav-style directions to their portable device, getting them where they need to go more quickly and efficiently (


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Airport Innovation Challenge

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