Celebrating the ACI-Amadeus Technology Innovation Award Winners

Elena Avila by Elena Avila | Nov 2, 2022

As the­ world reopens in the wake of the pandemic, it’s evident that the desire to travel remains robust. However, the recent influx of travellers coupled with labor shortages has disrupted airline operations at airports across the world. These challenges, experienced at some airports, highlight the importance of applying new technologies that help all airport stakeholders to collaborate more closely.

That’s why we at Amadeus consider it so important to support ACI World’s Technology Innovation Awards. This year’s entries highlight the important operational and passenger experience advances achieved by airports through the application of innovation.

Common technology supports closer collaboration

In the majority of cases, airlines, airports, and other stakeholders do not collaborate sufficiently today. They all play a vital role in passenger, flight, airport, and baggage services; however, it’s the efficient combination of each of their contributions that achieves improved results for passengers. This remains a longstanding challenge that new advances in technology are now beginning to address.

Airports, and their partners, require common technology that allows them to share data, manage complex shared processes, and create an eco-system of advanced, combined capabilities. I believe that each player is reaching the limit of what can be achieved by working in a silo — progress lies in an end-to-end and collaborative approach. This is how our industry can truly make progress with long-term challenges like disruption management.

Technology Innovation Award winners show the way forward 

Recent challenges in the operating environment also highlight the particularly impressive achievements of this year’s Technology Innovation Award winners. Recognizing airports’ commitment to the important role of technology innovations in shaping the evolution of airports and the passenger experience has never been more important.

This year’s submissions were of a consistently high standard, but special congratulations are reserved for the winning airports and teams involved.

2022 Technology Innovation Awards
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Best innovation in airport operations and installation management celebrates digital transformation that improves the core processes of an airport. Congratulations to Incheon Airport for Incheon Airport Data Sandbox.

Incheon Airport developed a big data platform and launched the Airport Data Sandbox service to facilitate data collection and provide an analytics service to stakeholders in a user-friendly environment.

The analytics provide actionable information to stakeholders for areas such as real-time passenger flow, terminal congestion, delay forecast upon adverse weather, traffic forecast, transportation forecast, and Home-to-Airport service.

Airport Data Sandbox represents a massive step forward for interactive collaboration across the airport community, helping to better allocate resources, manage staff, customize the airport journey for customers, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency.

Best innovation in airport passenger-related processes recognizes technology innovation focused on delivering an improved passenger experience. Congratulation to AENA for AENA Biometric journey from home to aircraft at Barcelona Airport.

AENA launched its third biometric project at Barcelona Airport for the Barcelona – Malaga Vueling route. This project is the most complete, covering the full passenger journey from home to the boarding gate.

Passengers enroll in the biometric program through the AENA app at home or at a check-in kiosk at the airport. The passengers use biometrics for the Self Bag Drop, to access the security control, and to board the plane.

Fully complying with data protection laws, the project allows passengers to travel without the need to show ID documents or a boarding pass at any point in the airport—enabling a seamless, touchless, and more agile experience at the airport.

Best airport innovation leader celebrates individual visionary technology leadership in the industry. Special congratulation to Suhail Kamil Kadri, Senior Vice President, Technology & Innovation at Hamad International Airport.

Suhail is a leader among his peers for his career achievements and leadership in industry advisory boards and committees. His strong knowledge of the airport business, intuition for what technology will add value, and ability to forge strong partnerships has earned him multiple accolades and awards over the years.

Kadri led Hamad International Airport to become the first airport to successfully trial a single biometric passenger journey, making travelling through airport processes seamless, touchless, and digital. He served on the ACI World IT Standing Committee for many years as Vice Chair and now as Chair where he provided support to may initiatives such as ACRIS to drive standardization, interoperability and lower the cost of airport IT systems.

Suhail also encourages young companies through various means including securing corporate sponsorship and supporting emerging talent and future leaders of the industry.

These awards represent the highest possible accolade for airport operators, and all of us at Amadeus would like to congratulate every Technology Innovation Award winner and reiterate that we are proud to champion airports that relentlessly seek to innovate at every opportunity.

An explosion of innovation means we are optimistic for the future

There are a number of technology trends that give me great optimism for the pace of innovation in aviation. The ability to capture, store and learn from vast quantities of data at breakneck speed is easier than ever before. This has significant implications for airport operations, with the ability to better optimize the allocation of resources and to take decisions in new ways, for example, by prioritizing sustainability goals.

Digital twins

Other innovations that are now beginning to mature include digital twins, which can help operational teams visualize and scenario plan based on data insights.  A Digital Twin is a virtual model of a real-world object or place. The virtual representation is created using sensors positioned around the airport that allow a video-game style virtual representation of a location like a departure hall. If you’ve ever played a modern videogame, then you can envisage a Digital Twin.

Imagine if a large aircraft is landing and the digital twin can alert airport management to malfunctioning passenger lifts within the terminal. How might the arriving passenger stream function without a lift? What is the impact on connecting passengers likely to be? With a shared digital twin the right decisions can be taken, for example, perhaps we should assign the aircraft to an alternative gate.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Even before we progress to widely adopted digital twins the IoT will transform how we run airport terminals. Bringing data together from connected assets as diverse as air conditioning systems, lifts and even passenger toilet facilities is helping airports to operate more smoothly and more sustainably.  

Today, Amadeus is running trials with airports that help them to use connected sensors to measure air quality levels at the airport and in the surrounding area. These tiny sensors use infrared to detect fine dust particle concentration in the air so we can take more sustainable decisions. 

This insight opens the door to new ways to run an airport by, for example, charging airlines based on emissions rather than typical landing slot (or volume based) metrics. Similarly, when you have this emissions data from the IoT, then the optimization algorithms used to run an airport can be rewritten to factor-in sustainability objectives, rather than simply operational efficiency goals.

When I reflect on the big challenges facing our industry; the need to automate, meeting sustainability goals and the need to facilitate a better experience with scare resources, it’s clear that technology can be a driving force for change. Therefore, congratulations to the winners of this year’s ACI World Technology Innovation Awards! I look forward to seeing the innovations in action.

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 at Amadeus. 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. Prior to joining Amadeus, Elena worked at Morgan Stanley in the investment banking division based in London and Madrid.
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