How can information sharing help airports overcome disruptions?

Elena Avila by Elena Avila | Dec 19, 2023

Elena Avila, Executive Vice President, Airport and Airline Operations at Amadeus, explores how tech innovations can cut disruptions and elevate passenger experiences.

A new report by our partners Airports Council International World (ACI) says technology will greatly change airport landscape in the future. Digital identity management creates new opportunities for our industry to build contactless experiences centered around the passenger.

By the end of the decade, more airports will have this technology in place to create seamless journeys, reducing the need for paper passports, with facial recognition allowing travelers to move smoothly through the airport and onto a plane.

In some cases, technically advanced airports are already in a position to bring this to life.

Collaboration across the travel ecosystem

The introduction of these new technologies is dependent on information sharing. ACI correctly argues rules and regulations will need to be defined in order to encourage utilization and enable collaboration across airports and between partners, like airlines and ground handlers.

Implementing new technologies will mean a reliance on information consolidation and sharing, collaboration between different players – including airport management, airlines, government agencies, ground handlers, restaurants, and shops.

Disruption management

When things go wrong at an airport, delays can grow exponentially, impacting thousands of passengers around the world.

Attempts to solve this problem through automation continue to evolve. There are a variety of reasons it remains a challenge for our industry, but the common theme is the underlying complexity of all of the component parts.   

For example, the passengers on a flight to or from a major city can be travelling on numerous distinct itineraries. Aircraft and crews often go in different directions on completion of a flight because each is subject to different regulatory rules, physical limitations, and schedules.

It can help if we imagine a complex jigsaw puzzle, where many of the pieces can change shape at any moment because of unpredictable events.

According to Amadeus’ own research, some 52 per cent of airports around the world are seeing more disruption than before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a further 32 per cent seeing about the same levels. Only 14 per cent reported less disruption than 2019.

With these figures in mind, the industry needs to start a conversation about how to manage disruption more efficiently to the benefit of all stakeholders and passengers.

Information sharing

Today, airports face numerous challenges: passenger numbers fluctuate as the recovery continues and operations are strained by cancellations, route changes, evolving passenger needs and modification of travel regulations.

Again, more effective data and information sharing are key to building better passenger experiences.

From an airport perspective, advanced notice could help to better allocate resources, like stands and gates, as well as support better staffing operational planning. It is likely to provide the time needed to shift airlines to new terminals if needed or to reallocate flights to neighboring airports if necessary.

Taking a step back, several technologies are combining to enable these trends.

Primarily, airports are transferring their IT systems to the cloud, which allows data to be easily accessible to all relevant players. This enables the use of technologies like machine learning, biometrics, and APIs, fostering closer collaboration across the sector.

On-trip, travelers will see their needs met in more intuitive and personalized ways. Vivid content will be adapted to what the traveler is looking for, while conversational Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) chatbots will be used to ask the right questions to understand the traveler preferences. Disruptions to travel plans will be resolved faster by intelligent rebooking systems.

Gen AI is dependent on access to vast amounts of information and data. Being at the heart of the travel ecosystem, Amadeus is present across all travel segments, with unique access to unrivaled and anonymized data, enabling new capabilities to maximize potential.

We believe partnerships and collaboration are key to the successful development of GAI and Amadeus is committed to working with partners from across both the travel and technology industries.

Industry-wide, closer data integration will help us overcome disruption and build the passenger experiences of tomorrow.

In our role as a technology partner for so many different partners across the travel ecosystem, Amadeus makes it our mission to enable and ease collaboration between industry stakeholders, working to create a smoother journey for the traveller, even when disruption strikes.

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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