Most airport operators will be looking to invest in passenger processing and services, passenger security, airport operations, baggage processing and management in 2010, a survey looking at 172 airports, including the top 100, has shown.

These areas will, however, remain a low priority for smaller airports.

More than 80% of airport operators around the world would like to see passenger self-service check-in become standard practice, according to the global survey launched by SITA Airport IT Trends.

90% of airports say they will have self check-in installed and working by the end of next year.

It also found that airports are generally good for the spend, with IT budgets largely remaining intact despite the global recession.

More than 52% of respondents said that electronic documentation and adoption of barcoded boarding passes will have a significant impact in the future, and 45% said they expected an increase in the budget in 2010 while 14% expect otherwise.

Waiting times for passengers who bypass check-in counters will be increasingly monitored, using video analytics (60% of respondents), radio frequency identification technology (43%) and bluetooth (27%).

The use of mobile devices also ranks high on a majority of priority lists.

Most airports plan to upgrade or increase the number of check-in kiosks (44%) and add new functionality (9%) such as passport scanning (from 32% today to 58% by 2012) and bag-tag printing (from 17% today to 51% by 2012).

Airports are also looking into common bag-drop locations (48% by 2012) and automated boarding gates (42% by 2012).