These Tech Trends Will Reshape Airports in 2024

According to Airports Council International (ACI) World, 2024 will be a milestone for global passenger traffic, with global air travel reaching 9.4 billion passengers. To handle this growing volume of travelers, airports must address the turbulence on the ground by further improving the airport experience. As they seek to enhance the traveler experience in a way that simultaneously drives new revenue, airports across the globe can leverage three technology trends to pave the runway.

1. Digital IDs Become the Norm

This may be the year digital identities truly take hold in some regions. We are moving toward a future in which passengers can travel without needing to present physical travel documents or stop to confirm their identity. As of August 2023, Finland is the first country to allow its citizens to re-enter with a digital passport. Other countries like the UK are gradually introducing digital visas. The US is testing digital visas for some K-1 applicants, and India has introduced its DigiYatra, a contactless digital travel program. As global travel continues to grow, digital passports and travel identities will help streamline the movement of passengers through airports, from check-in to departure to baggage claim. Digital identification works on technologies that many airports already use, like the cloud, biometrics, and private 5G networks, making the adoption easier than other transformations. As these new identity verification methods take hold, airports will have an opportunity to measure their impact on passenger processing and adjust staffing, procedures, and physical infrastructure accordingly. 

2. Analytic-Led Traveler Experience Improvements

In 2024, airports will leverage traveler data analytics to build better home-to-home journey experiences for every passenger. Soon, airports will send customized dining recommendations to travelers the minute they land, using data to select the options that best match the traveler’s digital profile. In addition, airports will begin using innovative engagement strategies like gamification. In-airport scavenger hunts, for example, will entertain travelers, award them discounts at participating vendor locations, and collect data to advance key customer-related KPIs further. As these experiences enhance the airport journey for guests, they will drive sales for airport vendors and ultimately increase non-aero airport revenue.

3. New technology-led sustainability initiatives

IoT-enabled solutions will increasingly help airports achieve sustainability goals by managing energy sources and consumption while improving terminal operations. Sensors can monitor facility systems like HVAC, conveyor belts, and water systems and enable predictive maintenance, automated control, and ongoing inspections with connected cameras. In addition, IoT can be configured to monitor escalators, restrooms, and waiting rooms to optimize cleaning and maintenance schedules for energy management, waste management, water management, air quality monitoring, and more. With 5G connectivity accelerating and IoT devices growing cheaper by the day, 2024 will present opportunities to implement new technology-driven sustainability improvement activities cost-effectively.

Digitalization and automation technologies are becoming the core value drivers for the airport industry. As airports focus on using technology to improve the passenger experience and overall efficiency further, they will inevitably need to address retooling and retrain their workforce to work differently. The airports that navigate these new routes effectively will be well-positioned to boost both aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue for years to come.

About the Authors

Manish Kumar
General Manager – Domain & Consulting Head of EC&O and Airports Industry Practice

Tushar Batra
Global Practice Lead & Industry Partner - Engineering, Construction & Operations and Airports

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