The Common Use Continuum

SITA's airport IT survey highlights trends associated with passenger processing

In terms of funding, Mayer comments, “We do know that ACI and AAAE are lobbying on the industry’s behalf to demonstrate that CUPPS is not a way to generate revenue; it is a passenger processing tool. The feeling around the ACI-NA event held in Austin last October was that it will be resolved and that common-use equipment will be AIP (Airport Improvement Program) or PFC (passenger facility charge) funding-eligible.

“What we see is that common-use kiosks are installed for a specific reason and to accommodate a specific need; common use is actually going to help drive more airline entrants to come in, or leave easier, because it’s not locking up a lot of valuable real estate — CUPPS promotes shared use.”

Rather than the airlines bringing into the airport their own network connectivity and hardware, IT actually makes it easier and provides a better service for the carriers, says Mayer.

Self-service peaks at Hartsfield-Jackson

According to SITA, an air transport communication and IT specialist, self-service check in at Atlanta has grown by 215 percent during the last four years with 82 percent of passengers preferring self-service check in options.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport now boasts some 173 common-use equipment positions; 113 at gate areas, 52 at ticket counters, and eight recently installed self-service kiosks at the rental car center.

“There is definitely a demand by the passenger for common-use kiosks,” says Patricia Thomas, airport systems manager for Atlanta’s department of aviation. “Our common use environment has been received very well by the passengers, but it’s transparent to them.”

With regards to new functionality to the latest common-use equipment, Thomas says the airport is looking into implementing common-use gate information displays (GIDS), mobile device barcode readers, and baggage applications.

The biggest advantage to common use capabilities, comments Thomas, is that it allows the airport to facilitate the fast start-up of a carrier that is not capable of making a large capital investment.

“Common use gives the airport the flexibility to accommodate any airline wanting to start-up here,” says Thomas. “The carriers can simply log-in to the system; gate information displays are dynamic and display content can be easily adjusted.”

Atlanta also stands out with regard to mobile device check in, which is now at 4.2 percent of passengers compared to less than 1 percent last year, according to SITA.

Says SITA’s vice president of airport service Catherine Mayer, “Atlanta has been really proactive with regards to common use, and it’s absolutely due to the lead by Delta Airlines.
“Atlanta is a reflection of the overall North American market where passengers are really used to using self-service.”

As of August 2009, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport was the busiest airport in the world in terms of total passenger traffic enplaning and deplaning some 59.56 million travelers, according to Airports Council International.

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