The pandemic and the continuing volatility in the airport sector is giving rise to a reassessment of The airport business model. Underpinning this shifting business model is a transformation around two key forces: digitalisation and decarbonisation. 



That is one of the conclusions of the second edition of BEUMER Group’s Airport Report, “Airports 2023 Outlook: The Road to Recovery”, that has just been released.

The report also offers useful insights into the current state of the global airport industry and what we can expect looking ahead to 2023.

Digitalisation as a key component of the shifting airport business model

Digitalisation was already well underway for many airports but there’s little doubt that the pandemic accelerated many airport digitalisation programmes as contactless technologies were introduced to make the passenger journey safer and smoother.

Now, as the pandemic ebbs, airports will be looking to data and technology to support their recovery across all aspects of their businesses – from asset management, to security, commercial, operations and employee delivery.

Digitalisation is a top priority

According to SITA’s Air Transport IT Trends, airports see digitalisation of their operations as a way to navigate recovery from the pandemic, reduce costs and provide a simplified passenger experience.

Eighty-one percent of airports in 2021 expected their absolute IT spend to remain stable or grow in 2022 and self-service processes, remote and cloud-based services and Internet of Things initiatives are now top priorities for airport investments.

Source: SITA 2021 “Air Transport IT Insights”, p. 16

Read how airports can start leveraging their data today in the report 

Supporting recovery with digitalisation

It’s clear that the transformation towards technology-enabled and data-driven airports can serve business objectives in two key ways:

  1. Using digital technologies to become independent of human know-how; and
  2. Using data to reduce operational costs.

Data-driven asset management can improve the way airports operate their assets and help them become less reliant on human know-how and less susceptible to the brain drain when staff depart. This will help alleviate some of the present challenges most airports are facing with staffing shortages in future disruptive events. But it means having lean-designed systems that are closely linked to their teams, software and data tools.

From hindsight to insight to foresight: The role of data analytics

Data analytics will play an important role in supporting decision making across all the airport’s organisational units – at the maintenance, operational and management levels.

By capturing data in real time and using analytical tools, airports are able to gain insights through different tiers of data analytics.

Depending on the level of data maturity, they can start asking questions: what happened; why did it happen; what is likely to happen; and what action do we need to take to eliminate future problems?

Learn how data analytics help airports optimise capacity and future-proof their operations

Reducing OPEX costs

A data-driven approach to airport processes will also yield OPEX savings by providing greater visibility into operations. Airports can, in fact, run their systems with substantially less staff than previously required.

Through decision science, decision making no longer depends on one person with specialised knowledge. Machine learning and AI tools enable systems to operate by themselves, making maintenance and operation staff less critical in the hourly operations. Furthermore, operations are less vulnerable to staff leaving with their know-how as their operational intelligence is now stored in the data.

The game-changing digital twin

Airports are increasingly seeing the advantages of digital twin technology to integrate their ecosystems, support their infrastructure, visualise their processes, train staff and increase collaboration.

A digital twin is a fully functional digital replica of an asset, including its physical structure, its behaviour and its associated processes. The technology allows the airport to determine where its assets — whether it’s a jet engine, a turbine, a vehicle or a baggage handling system — performs well and where it can be improved.

To learn how airports can become more resilient for future disruptive events, read the full report here.



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