Passenger Terminal Expo 2019 in London

Passenger Terminal Expo is rightfully called the biggest and most important conference in the airport industry. Where else could you listen to the visions and opinions of significant innovators in the field, or pose direct questions to leading IT engineers of the world’s biggest airports?

The three days long event has a 20+ year record of annual meet-ups. People from all over the world, who want to get in touch with new trends and thoughts in the sector, head to this conference. This year, more than 2000 attendees convened at Passenger Terminal Expo in London band of course, as Profinit delivers a key operation system for the Prague Airport, we couldn’t miss out.

The up-coming trends were immediately visible from the lectures and attached exhibition: biometrics, self-service and passenger experience. These three concepts are supposed to change our flying experience of tomorrow in a big way.

  1. Biometrics

The first part of the conference was dedicated to biometrics and introduced the idea of comparing your passport data with real-life biometrics. As a result, all the other airport checks should take literally just a blink of an eye. There is an interesting analogy of this approach with the already existing application login format SSO (single sign-on, e.g. with your Google account) – one could almost call it a kind of ‘customs/border SSO’.

Subsequently, it seems evident that airports are increasingly putting pressure on the simplification of the usually strict passport control process, and for a good reason – a queueing customer is not spending any money. Nobody likes wasting time in a queue, and a simplified approach to border checks would be a much welcome improvement.

  1. Self-service

The other trend mentioned above relates to this as well: self-service. Long check-in desk queues are the next big show-stopper of a quality flying experience. In the past, airports managed to cut these a bit shorter by introducing online check-in options. However, this only works for passengers with small cabin luggage. As soon as you need to put a larger suitcase on hold, which is the case for most passengers, you cannot skip the check-in desk. An endeavour to eliminate queues is apparent and already has clear outlines at some airports. Passengers just check in their luggage at a Self Service Bag Drop, print the bar code and deposit bags onto a belt or at a designated location. In case of special requests such as breached weight limits, assistance would always be at hand. An even more comfortable option would be a luggage pick-up service directly from passengers’ homes. This process has already been introduced at many European and World airports.

  1. Passenger experience

Obviously, Prague Airport does not want to stay behind, which brings us to the third key concept of the expo – passenger experience. All the improvements mentioned above have a single goal – to increase customer satisfaction. A happy passenger is keener to spend money, and although air trade is the primary source of business for most airports, it is clear that profits from passenger services (parking, refreshments, etc.) will continue to grow in importance. One can imagine a future, when you arrive at the terminal without heavy luggage, seamlessly pass through all the necessary checks, and completely immerse yourself in the small pleasures of travel.

As per usual, all innovation builds on pre-existing foundations. For example, from the airport’s perspective AODB (Aiport Operational DataBase) typically represents such a firm foundation, which is the main and only source of flight data for all integrated airport systems.

With the growing number of new ideas and various airport systems (not to speak of IoT), demands posed on AODB are increasingly higher. This concerns all of its aspects such as scalability, security, easy integration of new systems, and last but not least reliability.

At Prague Airport, Profinit delivers precisely such a critical system. We were pleased to be able to attend Passenger Terminal Expo and to gain greater insight into the future of airport systems. Finally, we are looking forward to future challenges that will be brought by developments of new solutions and the adoption of new paradigms in the aerospace industry.

Authors: Petr Filas, Richard Boura