During 2017, one third of all Russian airports increased their information technology (IT) spending, an encouraging but vital sign for their future successful development.
This conclusion was reached by experts of the RIVC-Pulkovo (Regional Information and Computing Center Pulkovo) following a study into the level of IT penetration at 40 Russian airports, revealed Gleb Golovchenko, managing director of the company, at the Shaping the Future Air Transport Industry conference in Moscow.
The survey identified that the major challenges facing Russian airports continue to be significant paper workflow, fragmented storage of information, a large number of complex transfer links and difficult control over processes in general.
Currently, less than half of all airport respondents use mobile applications (43 per cent), and most often (53 per cent) say they are used for servicing aircraft on the apron, and, to a lesser extent, for passenger services (18 per cent), baggage handling (18 per cent) and passenger transfers (11 per cent).
The report also noted that small regional airports continue to rely on in-house developed software (16 per cent). This practice is rooted in the past when not everyone had the opportunity to purchase professional software. Representatives of airports noted problems with domestically developed IT-platforms, which often lack an integrated approach (28 per cent), offer only low-level, after-sales support (23 per cent) and the general quality of the programs (21 per cent).
The availability of Wi-Fi on airport aprons has increased from the previous year by only six per cent (to 28 per cent), even though it is widely recognised that local networks can greatly facilitate the efficiency of airport services. The report pointed out that such Wi-Fi networks can not only be used for an airport’s own needs but may also be rented out to air fuel providers, airlines and other service providers, for example.
According to half of the survey respondents, the main task for 2018 is the modernisation of information systems, particularly those which assist passengers through airports. Currently, visual and audio information, as well as messages on websites, are mainly used. Mobile applications are utilised by only 17 per cent.
Mobile applications that are used in all areas of service may also facilitate built-in customer loyalty programmes, as well as targeted advertising, explained Golovchenko. Widely used messengers such as WhatsApp, Viber and Telegram, run bots that can provide requested, specific information to the client. For example, earlier this year, S7 Airlines (Siberia) launched a chat-bot in Facebook Messenger, which helps customers in the selection of their air tickets.
The report also noted that more and more Russian airports now require multi-lingual capabilities to be incorporated into their systems, so that Chinese, English and Russian languages are all covered in their information systems, both in the visual (airport terminal monitors) and in the audio information.
Among other improvement tasks identified are the monitoring of transfer passenger flows, the introduction of A-CDM (Airport Collaborative Decision Making), planning and resource management, traffic control on the apron and the control of passenger and baggage screening.
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