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Indian airlines need to improve facilities for passengers

October 13, 2013 12:19 IST

Indian airlines, which have been reluctant to invest in new technologies to improve passenger facilities primarily due to resource crunch, should start using latest IT solutions to benefit passengers, a recent study has found.

According to the study carried out by aviation consultancy firm Capa and prominent aviation IT solution provider SITA, facilities like provision of Wi-Fi on-board planes, greater usage of mobile technology, self-check in kiosks and biometrics and e-passports for border protection should be introduced in newly-modernised airports in India. It said airlines were "reluctant" to aggressively promote self-service check-in because the product was available at limited number of airports, on grounds of infrastructure constraints and variations in pricing models.

"Indian aviation has experienced a very challenging couple of years. As budgets have tightened, one of the repercussions has been a slowdown in the deployment of new technologies. And yet now more than ever, technology has the potential to deliver to the bottom-line of airlines and airports," the study claimed.

The Sita-Capa paper, titled 'Transforming the Passenger Experience: Information Technology in Indian Aviation in 2015', says that almost $10 billion was invested in airport modernisation between 2005 and 2012.

Earlier this year, new airport terminals were completed at Chennai and Kolkata airports, while Mumbai is expected to open new Terminal 2 to domestic traffic later this year. "As a result, by the end of the year new terminals will have been inaugurated at all six metro airports representing a significant milestone in the airport modernization programme," it said.

Pointing out that almost 82 per cent of passengers, who participated in the survey carried a smart phone, the study said the Indian traveller was "able and keen" to utilize mobile platforms.

However, the extension of core services like reservations and check-in through a dedicated mobile application or even a mobile-optimised interface were "still at a nascent stage". Similarly, the study noted that a majority of travelers felt that check-in, baggage drop-off and security and border control procedures were the most stressful points in the entire journey.

"Experienced passengers, who have travelled overseas, expressed frustration at the fact that the airport experience in India is not as seamless as in other parts of the world, with 80 per cent of travellers surveyed stated that they would be open to using self-service facilities if it would speed up their passage through the airport. "Yet only 33 per cent were aware of the availability of check-in kiosks," the study claimed.

Pointing out that social media activity was currently largely limited to information rather than engagement, it said, "Younger travellers stated that they would be interested in receiving personalised promotions and exclusive offers through social media platforms."

The study recommended that airlines, airports and government agencies needed to develop a more collaborative approach if they wanted to extract real value from technology and said airlines, airports and passengers could all benefit more from self-service solutions.

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