Chinese airports and airline companies are leading the way in automating the passenger journey, according to SITA, a Swiss air transport communications and information technology company.

In its 2021 Air Transport IT Insights report, SITA said that the Chinese airports and airlines are investing in boosting their passenger management systems.

The companies are said to have been introducing biometric technologies at touchpoints across the journey in order to streamline the management of health documentation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report suggested that the Chinese airlines and airports are focusing on strategies to conserve energy and minimise environmental impacts.

In a statement, SITA said: “A large majority of Chinese airlines (91%) and most airports (68%) expect to spend the same or more on IT in 2022 compared to 2021. A full 100% of airlines are directing these investments towards upgrading their core passenger management systems by 2024.

“Solutions for aircraft maintenance, a new priority for this year, are also attracting investments from 100% of airlines over the next three years as they look to further boost operational efficiency through digitalisation.”

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SITA explained that Chinese airports have been ahead in implementing passenger self-service, further strengthening their commitment to creating a low-touch passenger journey.

Additionally, Chinese airports are also investing in a biometric-powered journey, with 86% of the airports in the country intending to install self-boarding gates using biometrics by 2024 while 54% of the airports plan to establish a secure single biometric token across all touchpoints.

Over the next three years, Chinese airports and airline companies aim to offer digital passenger services and touchless solutions for passengers as well as staff members.

The primary focus will be on passenger health certificate verifications.

Last year, about 80% of Chinese airports and 75% of the airline companies implemented manual checks performed by staff members.

By 2024, these companies aim to have mobile app-enabled health checks or kiosk-enabled checks in place.

SITA Asia Pacific president Sumesh Patel said: “The lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have created a challenging operating environment for Chinese airlines and airports.

“Despite these constraints, China’s airlines and airports are affirming their commitment to technology as the way forward to support a safe and seamless passenger journey amid new health demands.

“Technology will enable the industry to respond to rapid shifts in passenger traffic and travel regulations and promote cost savings through newfound operational efficiencies.”