SITA sees opportunities for Asia-Pacific airlines and airports to provide a better customer experience using technology, but they will have to adopt common standards.

SITA chief executive Barbara Dalibard says there is broad scope to smooth the airport experience through automated systems in the region's airport. One challenge, however, is educating people on systems such as automated check-in and bag drops.

This issue will be exacerbated if there is not a standard approach between airlines and airports.

"It's key to push standards so that customer experience will not be all that different between airports," she says. "It's about aligning everyone, and simplifying the customer experience."

Dalibard, who formerly worked with France's state-owned train company SNCF, offers the example of a visitor to a new city standing at metro station, struggling to make sense of an unfamiliar system.

"When you look at the region's traffic growth in the next 20 years it will more than double. For airlines this is good news, but it also creates issues, as they need to handle ever more passengers in the airport. It's about traffic control, boarding, how you can optimise aircraft rotation. These are issues everywhere, but it's one of the key elements if you compare Asia-Pacific airlines with the rest."

SITA, long a proponent of biometric solutions, believes facial recognition can revolutionise a passenger's journey from check-in to boarding.

“Smart use of technology can help manage the challenges of rising passenger numbers, limited infrastructure and increased complexity," she says.

Dalibard also touched on internet connectivity aboard aircraft. She contends that younger travellers perceive connectivity as "more important than the food."

The problem facing airlines is apportioning limited bandwidth, prioritising and personalising traffic for key customers. "It is a scare resource," she says.

Another challenge is monetising passengers' activities when they use their devices onboard an aircraft. While a passenger may conduct online shopping from the air, it is not clear how airlines might get a share of that revenue.

"I'm not sure the story is written yet on what you can monetise, and how you can monetise it," says Dalibard. "The question is how you share, and what is your ability to see that somebody has bought something using Amazon while on the plane."

Source: Cirium Dashboard