France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is the world’s first airport to trial SIM-based near field communication (NFC) to allow passengers to pass through the airport’s checks, controls and gates using only their mobile phones.
Using the security of the SIM card, the airport will enable 50 selected passengers to trial this new service on BlackBerry smartphones over the summer. The trial is a joint-effort between SITA, the air transport IT and communications specialist, Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, Orange and BlackBerry.
The test passengers’ mobiles are the latest BlackBerry smartphones with NFC technology that allows communication with other NFC-enabled devices using radio frequencies by either tapping or bringing them within a range of a few centimetres.
The phone will effectively become the passengers’ pass, allowing them access to car parking, the boarding area via a premium access zone and to a premium passenger lounge. At the same time, passengers will receive up-to-the-minute information, such as changes to their flight times, departure hall or boarding gate.
SITA Lab director Renaud Irminger said: "SITA’s technology research arm, SITA Lab, is actively working on the development of new technologies that have the potential to improve the passenger experience, like NFC.
"Recently, SITA Lab demonstrated that NFC could dramatically improve the passenger experience by, for example, using NFC-enabled phones as boarding passes to open security, airline lounge and boarding gates automatically. We are delighted that this technology is now becoming a reality with the world’s first trial with actual passengers at Toulouse-Blagnac.
"Using the GSMA SIM-based NFC technology during the passenger journey provides many benefits over current technology: it is extremely secure; will work when the device is powered off; does not require the passenger to launch an app or retrieve an SMS or an email; and is not affected by reading problems caused by dirty screens. Overall, a passenger using an NFC-enabled device can be processed faster than any of the boarding processes available today."
CEO of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport Jean-Michel Vernhes said: "With NFC technology, the mobile phone simplifies the passage of the flyer through the airport. The mobile phone now becomes a personalised tool, displaying the required information at the right moment; it also enables the flyer to better manage their time, optimising their choices.
"For Toulouse-Blagnac airport, the approach is to give flyers access to leading-edge technologies that enhance and facilitate the passenger experience at the airport, in providing new premium services."