India’s aviation industry is set to receive a technology boost over the next five years, an air transport communications and information technology specialist says.
Maneesh Jaikrishna, a vice president at SITA, tells Aviation Week that the Indian aviation industry will eventually “witness some key technologies being deployed” that will need the support of favorable industry policies.
Some of the technologies include mobile check-in, boarding passes on mobile devices and self-service kiosks that will improve staff efficiency and facilitate passenger processing, he said. These are expected to be available by 2014. “Onboard Internet and phone connectivity is envisaged in the next five years,” Jaikrishna says.
An integrated radar system to cover blind areas at airports is in an early stage of implementation, and a Flight Information Management System (FIMS) to communicate available flight details to air traffic controllers is expected to come online in the near future, he says.
In addition, a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system will be implemented by 2015, which will not only facilitate baggage claim but also cargo handling, asset and inventory control, and passenger management. Web-based products for Internet flight plan filing are also likely to take off soon, he said.
Jaikrishna says it’s imperative for the air transport sector to establish new, viable business models that generate a reasonable return on investment and can withstand external shocks from the economy, competition, fuel prices and exchange rates.
“Technology has the potential to play a central role in creating this new transformational business model. In the past, IT was largely internally focused, supporting processes and functionality. However, now it enables closer integration with the customer experience, and the ability to shape and personalize the relationship with the passenger, from the time of planning and booking, through to airport facilitation, inflight, baggage claim and service recovery,” he says.
The magnitude of aviation sector growth is bound to strain the industry’s existing infrastructure, requiring an enabling policy and environment that can create a level playing field and encourage investments, he said.
“The growth of traffic in the Indian aviation industry is almost four times above the international average. This growth will throw up challenges for the Indian aviation industry. Technology and innovative practices will be critical components to facilitate this business revolution,” Jaikrishna points out.
The Indian aviation sector has seen significant growth during the Eleventh Plan Period (2007-20012), becoming the ninth largest aviation market in 2011. At the currentt growth rate, 2012 passenger traffic is expected to exceed 150 million.
“All six metropolitan cities in India are expected to build a second airport in the next 10 years, and Mumbai is expected to build a third,” he says.