Air Transport in Europe evolves – with new efficiencies and higher levels of comfort…
The liberalisation of the air transport industry in Europe in the early 1990s created a boom in air connectivity as new airlines entered the market and traditional players increased their efficiency. That boom has continued: travellers now have unprecedented options for business, leisure, and meeting family and friends. The number of city-pair connections is double that of 20 years ago – more than 16,000.
New Distribution Capability (NDC) is now transforming the way air products are retailed to corporations, leisure and business travellers. IATA has announced collaboration with a coalition of national travel agent associations on a study to look at options that could benefit the travel agents as NDC is now widely accepted across the industry communities. At time of writing, in Europe there are 4 airlines officially engaged in NDC pilots: Aer Lingus, British Airways, HeliAir Monaco and SWISS.
Rafael Schvartzman, IATA Regional Vice President, Europe explains that “New Distribution Capability will facilitate more efficient and comprehensive airline distribution in the travel agent channel through the development and market adoption of an XMLbased data transmission standard for communications between airlines and travel agents.”
SMART SECURITY is another factor that will influence transits through European airports. Schiphol and Heathrow airports are running trials combining technological advances with process improvements and a risk-based regulatory approach. Using new techniques, passenger throughput can be increased back to the levels that were achieved prior to 9/11 and the subsequent tightening of regulations. Mr Schvartzman says results are highly encouraging: “It is about future-proofing the system so that if new regulations and checks are required, the system can cope without the bottlenecks of the past. In time, we also hope that new Smart Security technologies will be able to mean passengers no longer have to remove laptops, divest clothes, and other such inconveniences.”
Meanwhile, Europe’s “Fast Travel” program responds to passenger demand for a more seamless travel experience and more control through six time saving, selfservice initiatives. They are:
- Check in: allowing passengers to receive their boarding pass via self-service channels (web, kiosk, mobile phone or automated), avoiding long lines at check-in
- Bags ready-to-go: enabling passengers to deliver their bags tagged and ready for acceptance to an airline representative or a self-service bag-drop
- Document scanning: allowing passengers to scan their travel documents at kiosks for data verification and compliance with destination and transit requirements
- Flight rebooking: allowing passengers to get proactively rebooked and obtain their new boarding pass via a self-service channel such as kiosks in case of delays or cancellations and so avoiding long lines
- Self-boarding: allowing passengers to selfscan their boarding token to gain entry to the aircraft, potentially using automated boarding gates similar to a train or metro station
- Bag recovery: enabling passengers to report a missing bag via a self-service channel instead of waiting in line at a baggage claim service counter