India to be Among the Top Three Passenger Aviation Markets by 2026

Maneesh Jaikrishna, Vice President, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern & Southern Africa, SITA talks about the rise in air passenger numbers in India seeing a double-digit growth over the past few years, significantly outperforming the global average.

AIR PASSENGER numbers in India have consistently seen double-digit growth over the past few years, significantly outperforming the global average. India is predicted to be among the top three passenger aviation markets by 2026, according to Maneesh Jaikrishna, Vice President, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern & Southern Africa, SITA.

“The use of smart technology will be key to managing this phenomenal growth and the industry is already exploring numerous solutions that will make air travel easier. Moreover, government’s recent initiatives focusing on low-cost aviation with scheme ‘Udega Desh ka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) making paperless travel a reality through biometrics in the form of DigiYatra and allowing in-flight WiFiover Indian airspace, we can see India making rapid strides towards the future of aviation,” said Jaikrishna.

SITA is playing a critical role in transforming Indian aviation and the passenger experience through innovative ICT solutions and in providing modern, standardised infrastructure throughout the country.

With a strong local presence in India with more than 60 years’ experience working collaboratively at the heart of Indian aviation, SITA has partnered with 45 Indian airports to meet the demand for increased capacity and an enhanced passenger experience by providing technology solutions that meet high global standards. Currently, SITA is actively engaged with Indian airport operators to bring self-service gates, bag drop solutions and e-Gates which are poised to change the face of Indian airports.

In this direction, Mumbai airport has taken a pioneering step to implement SITA’s self-service bag drop in both domestic and international terminals. SITA is also working towards extending Single Token Solutions (paperless travel) with airports and has expanded its baggage management solution Bag Manager to 15 more airports managed by AAI across India.

“Through infrastructure standardisation and rationalisation, SITA is optimising airlines’ outstation IT assets in foreign offices Indigo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, and Air India are leveraging SITA’s global communication network (plug & play) and virtualised services. Our solutions also help airlines to be more competitive and optimise their costs while increasing agility and go to market. Apart from that, SITA is helping India’s airlines with a consistent, global approach to baggage processing, with a capability of end-to-end baggage tracking/tracing and improved processing of mishandled baggage,” he said.

SITA will continue to drive new innovations and introduce new technologies in the year 2018-19 that mitigate the challenges of its Indian air transport partners, delivering advanced value-added solutions that will help drive consistent profitable growth.

As per SITA’s Air Transport IT Trends Insights research during 2017, it is seen that passengers are more dependent on their smartphones to help them achieve an end-to-end experience throughout their journey.

The data reveals that travellers are also demanding new mobile services with 83% saying that they would definitely use flight updates on their mobile, 82% to report mishandled bags and 79% to track their bags in real-time. Several airports and airlines are hence looking to provide passengers with complete control of their journey through their mobile by enabling check-in and boarding via a mobile app by the year 2020. While the use of technology among Indian travellers remains high at check-in (87%) and booking (52%); 2017 saw tremendous growth in the use of technology at other points in the journey. The use of self-service bag tag rose to 55% from 35% in 2016 while the use of self-bag drop climbed from 12% in 2016 to 21% in 2017.

“With several government schemes such as DigiYatra on the rise, Biometrics is key to a true walkthrough experience at the airport in a seamless and secure manner. Identity management falls under the advanced processing technology part of the New Experience in Travel and Technologies (NEXXT) program which is an initiative by IATA and ACI. As passenger acceptance of biometric recognition grows, biometric solutions are set to simplify and speed up ID checks at other stages in the airport journey such as airport entry. Biometric identity could also be extended to automate entry into airline clubs or for baggage check-in,” he added.

Airlines and airports are also anxious to increase the visibility of their real-time baggage handling operations while looking at improving their passengers’ experience by offering baggage tracking via mobile devices. With the IATA Resolution 753 coming into effect from June 1, 2018, the industry is set to increase baggage tracking. Technologies such as SITA BagJourney is a fully managed end-to-end baggage tracking platform with fast and simple integration into mobile and web applications and it complies with the Resolution 753 and helps in preventing mishandling of baggage.

Further, Jaikrishna informs that India will become the third largest aviation market in terms of passengers by 2026 and by the year 2020, passenger traffic at Indian airports is expected to increase to 421 million from currently being at 308.75 million in 2017-18. Freight traffic at airports in India is expected to cross 11.4 million tonnes by 2032 which grew at a CAGR of 7.56 per cent during FY06-FY18 to from 1.40 million tonnes to 3.36 million tonnes.

SITA is also playing a key part in terms of the recent developments in the government providing in-flight connectivity in the Indian skies through SITAONAIR. It is a major player in the segment and offers services such as Mobile ONAIR, which enables onboard mobile roaming, just like on the ground; and Internet ONAIR, which facilitates onboard internet surfing and content, just like on the ground. SITA is laying the foundation for efficient border management and helping ensure the safety of Indian skies. “Since we are the global leader in border management solutions that combine passenger data risk assessment and sophisticated tools for processing passengers at the border and for managing nations’ border operations,” he said.

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