ACI World-Amadeus Technology Innovation Award Winners Show the Path Forward

Elena Avila by Elena Avila | Jul 11, 2023

Header photo: Best airport innovation leader (individual) went to Maurice Jenkins, IAP, C.M. – Chief Innovation Officer, Miami International Airport

How can we improve the experience of air travel? When capital expenditure is constrained, how can we make better use of existing airport capacity? How can we reduce the frequency and impact of air travel disruption? What is the key to unlocking greater operational efficiency? How can we operate more sustainably?

These are just some of the strategic questions that airport leaders are grappling with. While applying new technology at the airport is not a panacea, it does present exciting new options. Options that allow us to rethink how our industry operates to address these fundamental questions.

That is why Amadeus continues to support ACI World’s Technology Innovation Awards. This year’s winning entries represent best practices for applying new technology to improve the passenger experience and rethink operations.

2023 Technology Innovation Awards
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Sharing data insight is the key to managing disruption better

Disruption is one of our industry’s most pressing challenges. Levels of disruption across the industry are too high, with passengers and the industry feeling the impact. When airports face rapid changes in demand, either up or down, perhaps as a result of a weather event, they not only have to manage their own operational changes but also communicate effectively with partners.

Does everyone have the right and timely information to rebuild schedules, organize ground services, and reallocate resources? Similarly, can passengers be smoothly re-accommodated and served? The airport plays a role, but airlines are responsible for many touchpoints.

Disruption is an incredibly complex challenge but there is an opportunity to drastically improve how we currently do things. The better sharing of data and insights between airlines, airports, and other stakeholders using platform technology promises to do the heavy lifting.

For instance, if there is a fault with an incoming aircraft that is likely to result in a delay, then this information can be much more effectively shared using a common platform. Early notification helps passenger service agents make better decisions about how to re-accommodate passengers, and operational services, like refueling, to anticipate, rather than react, to what is coming. But to get here, we need partners to collaborate both technically and at the business and policy levels.

This year’s winners show the way forward

We, at Amadeus, are proud to support ACI World in recognizing the achievements of this year’s Technology Innovation Award winners. Technology is reshaping every area of our industry and it has never been more important to recognize those airports that have gone above and beyond to deliver greater value and a better passenger experience with technology.

Representing the highest possible accolade for airport operators, we are pleased to congratulate the winning airports and teams involved.

  1. Best innovation in airport passenger related processes: Incheon Airport – XR Metaverse Services, Connecting Virtuality and Reality
  2. Best innovation in airport operations and installations management: Hong Kong International Airport – Digital Apron and Tower Management System
  3. Best airport innovation leader (individual): Maurice Jenkins, IAP, C.M. – Chief Innovation Officer, Miami International Airport
Best innovation in airport passenger related processes went to Incheon Airport – XR Metaverse Services, Connecting Virtuality and Reality
Best innovation in airport operations and installations management went to Hong Kong International Airport – Digital Apron and Tower Management System

Making sustainability an operational priority

Many airports are already making an impact by moving to the cloud, which can eliminate energy-intensive processes, servers, and physical equipment such as replacing legacy on-site technology with extremely reliable and energy efficient cloud data processing. But there is an even bigger challenge and opportunity for airports.

Airport operational decisions are made by technology today that allocates runway slots, stands and gates, and other resources. These day-to-day operational decisions are based on policies specified by the airport, like prioritizing on-time performance. There is a huge opportunity for the industry to include sustainability objectives in this decision-making, such as the sequencing of aircraft on the runway to reduce fuel burn and deliver efficient operations. This is a priority for Amadeus and we are working with our airline and airport customers to make progress in this area.

Why I’m optimistic about the future of technology-driven air travel

We’ve already touched on how new technology can help address disruption and sustainability, two of the biggest challenges facing our industry today. But it is worth taking a step back to reflect on the exciting moment we’re currently living through. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), whether it be generative AI that uses Large Language Models to deliver a more intuitive interface to computing, or the coming impact of agent-based systems, promise entirely new ways to solve problems.

Imagine being able to chat with your airline during times of disruption and the chatbot returning intelligent information and options. AI ‘agents’ are also interesting for the aviation industry. These small pieces of code can be given priorities and asked to talk with one another to negotiate and solve problems. They hold particular promise in very complex operational environments like airports, and whilst still emerging, demonstrate that innovation is likely to shape the air travel industry for many years to come. 

Elena Avila

Elena Avila

Executive Vice President, Airport IT and Airline Operations, Amadeus
On July 1st, 2021 Elena Avila was appointed Head of the Airport IT and Airline Operations business unit (currently Airport and Airline Operations) at Amadeus. The unit is focused on bringing value to airlines and airports in the area of passenger experience and optimization of operations with innovative cloud-based solutions. Prior to this, Elena held a regional leadership role, managing all of Amadeus' airline business in the Americas region, including commercial, solutions, delivery and customer support for airlines in North, Central and South America. Elena joined Amadeus in 2010 and, since then, she has also held several central senior management roles, including Director of Investor Relations, Director of Commercial Finance and Global Head of Strategy for airlines, where she was responsible for defining and implementing Amadeus' strategy for its airlines business worldwide. Before joining Amadeus, Elena worked at Morgan Stanley in the investment banking division based in London and Madrid.
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