Nearly 93% of airlines consider providing mobile services for passengers a top priority IT investment over the next three years, according to a new SITA survey.

The 14th annual SITA/Airline Business IT Trends survey polled half of the world’s top 100 carriers, revealing that the companies are investing on IT infrastructure in key business areas including passenger service, reduction of operational cost and revenue generation.

The survey also showed that mobile services are seen as playing a major role with more than half of airlines already selling tickets through mobile devices.

According to the survey’s findings, half of the airlines polled are already providing flight search and check-in services through mobile phones, with nearly half providing boarding passes, ticket purchase and flight status notifications for airport passengers.

SITA CEO, Francesco Violante, said this year’s survey shows how airlines are focusing on mobile across the whole business.

"Mobile apps are being used to improve the passenger experience, reduce operating costs and generate revenue," Violante said

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"This is the second year that mobile services for passengers tops the list of investment programmes and it is the adoption of mobile apps across sales, customer services and passenger processing that truly shows that airlines are committed to transformation."

By 2015, nearly 90% of airlines are planning to offer mobile services including flight search, check-in, boarding passes, ticket purchase, flight status notification and ancillary services, followed by customer complaint handling and missing baggage management.

The survey also found that 57% of airlines believe social media could encourage sales, while 39% consider it important for customer service. Currently 40% of airlines promote flights through social media, with 90% planning to do so by 2015.

The survey also revealed that both social media and mobile offerings allow a more personalised service, with 78% planning to personalise sales through their direct channels.