With the requirement for Hold Baggage Screening (HBS), we are now able to validate and report far better on the bag’s journey through the screening area and then start identifying if it is being sent to secondary screening and potentially tertiary screening. What does that mean for the bag getting to the makeup areas within the terminal? Is the flow of baggage going to be impacted due to high numbers going to the additional level, is it happening at a certain time of day, week, for a flight / airline? We can start capturing, storing, analyzing these data points to better predict and manage the operation.
There are numerous areas where we can start to improve the operation and reduce some of the mishandling of baggage. In turn, we will lower the cost to the industry through recovery costs to airlines, Ground handlers etc. However, we still need to address some of the fundamental challenges around baggage. This starts with the adoption of a more up-to-date messaging standard moving away from the Type B message and that’s where we look to XML.
XML is a messaging standard with an intelligently designed information model. Unlike the current messaging standards, People and Devices can easily read and understand XML message content, thereby improving the integration between airlines and their systems with higher quality data. Per a report by IATA, “This is an extensible messaging technology, which means that it can be added to when required by new information or practices. Despite this, XML is standardized and therefore simple for multiple suppliers to use.” (IATA, n.d.)
The challenge is that all airlines have implemented the Type B messages for their baggage operations. Because some, but not all, have started to move to XML, interline and transfers may be impacted. This leads to additional requirements to be able to convert and/or integrate both options. The biggest concern for the current operation is that there are significant issues identified around the quality and delivery of that information.
Benefits of the adoption of XML
There are some key benefits associated with the adoption of XML, which removes some of the challenges and barriers with the existing Type B messaging. (IATA)
The XML is driven by the use and adoption of the Airline Industry Data Model, which helps with the definition and the data content. Coupled with the XSD, it reduces the overall complexity. In addition to the adoption of XML, the solution is further future-proofed due to users’ ability to add and remove content as needed by the industry. It provides backward compatibility with an adaptable message format.
With the potential to include additional information, there may also be the need to secure the data, which can be delivered with the use of an embedded digital certificate.
In addition to the above, the use of XML is widely adopted within the digital realm and used extensively by airlines and airports; thus, knowledge already exists in many organizations. As a result, there’s no proprietary services of systems that would need to be utilized.
XML would also not need to use what by today’s standards is a costly way to incurring the per transaction teletype messages.
Business Case: So how does the industry move forward with RFID tracking, XML adoption, and realizing the achievable benefits?
To be able to deliver the step change required to capitalize on RFID capabilities alongside the use of XML messaging, there are key areas that will need to be adapted, developed, and implemented. These range from the actual tags to the common use/dedicated workstation and peripherals to the baggage sortation system and reconciliation system to the airline’s departure control systems and arrivals displays.
Airports must also make fundamental decisions. For instance, will it be a local install with the associated integration platform, databases, and servers or a cloud-hosted centralized service that will be accessible to all parties irrespective of airport or geography? Is there a regional approach required for adoption?
In deciding whether to move forward, the key issue is with building a business case, establishing ROI, and determining how the customer experience is enhanced. None of this will happen overnight, and it will require a substantial amount of planning, implementation and execution. Having been potentially set prior to Resolution 753, the airport’s strategic road map may require adaption and budgeting in order to be implemented. (ACI, n.d.)
The following diagram identifies key areas of improvement, pinpoints where benefits can be realized, and acts as a blueprint for the building of a business case. (IATA, n.d.)