Case study: How is iGA Istanbul Airport implementing passenger-centric digital solutions?

Selahattin Bilgen by Selahattin Bilgen | Jan 3, 2024

Selahattin Bilgen, CEO of iGA Istanbul Airport, provides an overview of all new innovative digital services introduced at the airport – from AI-powered navigation and queue management to personalized journeys and e-commerce experiences.

iGA Istanbul Airport is at the forefront of introducing innovations in the global aviation industry, placing great importance on our digital journey, and enhancing the passenger experience. By observing trends in aviation and in airport management, we can recognize the integration of technology-driven advancements, both physically and digitally, to facilitate a smoother travel experience for passengers.

At iGA Istanbul Airport, we don’t just welcome innovation; we celebrate it. Our goal is to make innovation a core part of our corporate culture. In order to achieve this, we need to be proactive. We need to continue to seek new ways to improve our services, streamline our operations, and enhance the passenger experience.

Across all departments and teams, each individual plays a crucial role in this evolutionary process. Innovation transcends the mere conception of grand ideas, and fundamentally involves nurturing an organizational culture that values and amplifies every voice, so every team member feels empowered to share their ideas, no matter how big or small. It’s about creating an environment that values curiosity and encourages experimentation.

Emerging fields such as data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are gaining prominence across airports, including our own. We are on a journey to become the world’s best digital airport and with that, we are focused on placing passengers at the center of the design process.

This led to the development of our mobile application, which has been tailored to enhance the indoor experience within our 1.4 million square meter main terminal building, the world’s largest single-roofed indoor space, as well as our six-story car park which accommodates 40,000 vehicles. This application promotes sustainable passenger movement, supports map infrastructure with location-based services, and delivers personalized travel experiences.

Here are a few of the processes we have implemented to embark on this challenge:

Digitalization of the terminal: better navigation, accessibility, and queue management system

The digitalization of the terminal has improved the accessibility and clarity of our services, making it easier for passengers to navigate their way around and enjoy a more seamless journey. Our commitment to passenger enjoyment begins before they even reach the airport and extends through the entire boarding process. The mobile application is constantly being updated to ensure that it meets the changing needs of the modern traveler. Our application offers digital innovations through features such as the profile creation screen, flight tracking, iGA Pass campaigns, and interactive functions to increase communication among users. In order to enhance the indoor experience at our terminal, passengers can enjoy real-time navigation, enhanced information gathering, and personalized recommendations. This has been achieved through seamless and simultaneous content management across our digital channels (web, mobile, digital kiosk), ensuring that our passengers have instant access to the most up-to-date information.

The queue management system (QMS) allows passengers to track their travel time through the check-in and security checkpoints via our digital channels and terminal screens. The home-to-gate feature streamlines the entire travel journey, from home to boarding gate. Car park users can make use of car park occupancy screens and a ‘Where’s My Car’ function to simplify their parking experience.

Personalized digital journeys for passengers: from location-sharing to boarding the aircraft.
By embracing the digital era, iGA Istanbul Airport empowers passengers to create personalized digital experiences that guide them throughout their airport journey – from accessing flight and check-in information to boarding the aircraft. Leveraging these innovative features, passengers can create profiles, receive real-time flight updates, monitor their travel companions’ flight details, and easily meet using the application’s location-sharing feature. Additionally, the travel checklist feature enables proactive preparation for potential needs that may arise during their travels.

Biometric ID checkpoints allow seamless passage in various premium service areas for our frequent travelers, capitalizing on the personalized profiles they establish at designated transit points. In compliance with the Personal Data Protection Law, all data regarding the digital journey is securely stored.

E-commerce for a rewarding shopping experience

At iGA Istanbul Airport, AI and digital advancements are used to provide a shopping experience that is fast, comfortable, and enjoyable.  Using augmented reality, we created CİGA, a virtual shopping companion that makes the shopping experience more fun and exciting. İGA Pass Loyalty program members can also enjoy a 15% discount on purchases. Through our comprehensive services, we are aiming to elevate the retail experience, enabling passengers to make informed and conscious purchasing decisions.

iGA Pass: one-stop-shop for airport services

Our app can be used to purchase passenger services through the iGA Pass feature, in line with our commitment to provide passengers with a pleasant experience throughout the airport. Travelers can enjoy various services, such as lounge access, fast-track queuing, buggy hire, and more. We have collaborated with various partners, including airline and bank membership programs, allowing members to benefit from our services by using their boarding card or the QR code on the relevant mobile app.

AI and Virtual Assistant

Recognizing the growing importance of artificial intelligence, we make sure to integrate this technology into our Chatbot and Virtual Assistant tools. Our virtual assistant interacts with passengers using natural and human-like expressions, providing comprehensive information about flights, public transportation, queue management systems, and parking. Our bilingual virtual assistant can answer over 1,000 questions and is continuously evolving. Within the scope of this service, we have partnered with Türkiye’s leading technology companies to enable the Chatbot to guide passengers using real-time navigation and operate through four different channels: mobile application, airport website, WhatsApp, and the call center. In addition to our digital channels, we provide the same integration to our passenger guidance robots in the terminal and offer services to our guests with the support of artificial intelligence.

Selahattin Bilgen

Selahattin Bilgen

CEO of iGA Istanbul Airport
Selahattin Bilgen is the acting Chief Executive Officer of iGA Havalimani Isletmesi (iGA Istanbul Airport). Selahattin Bilgen has been the Chief Financial Officer of IGA Havalimani Isletmesi and its subsidiary companies since 2018. Mr. Bilgen has 20 years of experience in the fields of Banking, Corporate Finance and Project and Structured Finance. In 2022 he was awarded as one of “Turkey’s Most Effective 50 CFOs”, according to research conducted by BMI Business School in cooperation with DataExpert. He was also listed among one of “Turkey’s Most Effective Top Managers” research organized by Business Life Magazine in the same year. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Bilkent University and an MBA degree from Bogazici University.
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