A report by IT firm SITA has revealed that Chinese airlines and airports are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to offer a hyper-personalised self-service experience to their customers.

SITA 2019 China IT Insights revealed that AI is a key technology attracting investment.

The report states that 88% of Chinese airlines and airports have plans for programmes or research involving AI by 2022 and are prioritising virtual agents and chatbots.

This investment follows the country’s increasing demand for digital services as highlighted by the report, which found that 64% of Chinese passengers request a digital travel concierge.

In China, 43% of airlines currently use AI-powered chatbot customer services. It is expected that the use of such technologies will increase in the future.

The report revealed that 27% of Chinese airports have installed self-boarding gates that utilise biometrics with travel documents. This figure is estimated to increase to 66% in three years.

By 2022, over half of China’s airports plan to incorporate secure single biometric tokens for all touchpoints.

Airlines are also considering the use of self-boarding gates that leverage biometrics with ID. Approximately 60% of the airlines intend to use them.

SITA China vice-president and general manager May Zhou said: “China’s airlines and airports have a strong record in embracing technology and automation to drive efficient operations and high levels of passenger services.

“Now they are moving to the next level where they will harness AI to deliver more services, faster and to more people.”

By 2022, 93% of China’s airports and all of its airlines are planning to use mobile applications such as flight discovery, airline offers, check-in and flight status notifications.

Zhou added: “The adoption of self-service by passengers across China has been very encouraging for airlines and airports. At SITA, we see many in the industry who are now ready and planning to add biometrics to bring self-service to the next level.”