By EKELEM AIRHIHEN
Ekelem Airhihen, a chartered accountant, is an airport customer experience specialist. He can be reached on email@example.com and +2348023125396 (WhatsApp only)
Recently, Nigeria put to the bid two slots for 100MHZ of the 3.5GHZ spectrum of the fifth generation (5G) network. This network of mobile internet connection makes internet browsing and data download faster while allowing many more devices access the internet at the same time. Experts are of the opinion that 5G might enable driverless cars, delivery drones and possibly replace wifi in homes and offices.
In the United States, there has been a new wave of concern about disruptions to aircraft operations caused by the deployment of C-band 5G telecommunications services at airports. Also 5G comes in three basic variations namely low, mid and high band. The mid band spectrum encompasses frequencies from 1GHZ to 6GHZ as well as the C-band. The deployment of this spectrum has been in process in many regions of the world for several years.
Every year the editorial team of Future Travel Experience offers predictions on trends and technology that will shape the air travel industry. For 2022, they predict ten trends they believe will ensure airports and airlines can improve and simplify passenger experience, enhance business performance, as well as support recovery post Covid-19. These are:
The metaverse, an immersive virtual reality experience, will allow people to interact with digital objects, as well as digital representations of themselves and others. The industry is advised to keep an open mind to opportunities it could create. They suggest that beyond stimulating consumer demand, it could create a platform for collaboration for remote workers, cabin training, aircraft maintenance, design and airport operations.
Retail trend in the use of virtual reality and augmented reality to help customers digitally try on clothes and accessories is projected to pick up more in airport retail. This could improve on customer sales at airports.
E- commerce will likely play a more prominent role in the face of Covid-19. Airasia is said to have projections for 2024 such that 50% of its revenue will be coming from non-flight related, non-aviation related revenue. This will be driven by a strategy based on travel, e-commerce and fintech.
The rise of urban air mobility can be seen in various partnerships towards such a project. Europe’s first test vertiport (a vertiport is a type of airport for aircrafts that land and take off vertically) is reportedly to be in France in a bid to launch commercial Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) services in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Sustainability is reported to have moved up on the agenda of CIOs of airports and airlines. So aviators should look forward to such things as new aircraft technologies in the use of hydrogen and electric, including improvements in operational efficiency and infrastructure and emerging bio-based Sustainable Aviation Fuel ( SAF).
Deployment of biometrics and digital identity technology has the capacity to create a more safe, seamless and contactless passenger experience. The convenience, scalability and cost-effectiveness will ensure this technology trend is sustained into 2022, Future Travel Experience predicts.
Contactless technology has enabled airlines to update their inflight entertainment encouraging a model of BYOD (bring your own device). Airport retail and its future will also be affected by this technology. With a swipe of a card, travelers can take whatever product they are looking for and walk out the store in Dallas and Chicago airports, FTE reports.
Virtual queuing is also another trend at airports. Passengers can book a slot to queue at airport touchpoints rather than join a physical line, eliminating long lines and improving social distancing and customer experience.
Deployment of Digital Twins at Hong Kong International Airport has resulted in better application of resources, cost saving and enhanced service, reports FTE. Here, real time data is fed from Internet Of Things (IOT) devices deployed throughout the airport which transforms them into easy-to-read formats so that alerts are issued out to the airport community using predictive analytics.
Autonomous delivery robots are becoming more common at airports, especially in the United States, reports FTE. These robots enable passengers to order contactless delivery directly to their location on a concourse to be delivered by an autonomous robot. Items can also be selected from retail stores through mobile devices. Autonomous technology is also being used at airports for ground handling processes and improvements are expected into the future.
The good news about these technology deployments is that they enable a stress free passenger experience. However, the advice of Future Travel Experience comes in handy here: industry players must communicate and collaborate with one another so that collectively they ensure that all travel touchpoints work in sync.
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