SITA is warning that regional airports should be prepared to deal with a massive influx of traffic in the wake of COVID-19. The company noted that many people moved away from major urban centers (and toward less populated regional ones) as remote work arrangements became more acceptable during the pandemic, and domestic travel is also expected to increase as lockdowns lift in many countries. Many people are eager for a vacation after a year spent at home, and it is easier to go somewhere local (and somewhere with no entry requirements) than it is to deal with complex and unpredictable international health restrictions.
The problem, of course, is that smaller airports usually have smaller budgets than their big-city counterparts. That has historically made it harder to invest in the screening technology they would need to process a greater number of people. That isn’t necessarily a problem when volume is low, but it could create a bottleneck if traffic goes up significantly.
That’s why SITA is encouraging regional airports to make the transition to the cloud. The company specifically advocated for mobile technologies that allow people to link a personal device to their identity and travel information. Such technology is touchless and scalable, and speeds up processing times since many steps can be handled before the passenger gets to the airport.
More importantly, many cloud solutions can be deployed without a major investment in new hardware. That makes them more affordable for regional airports that may not have the budget to overhaul their entire infrastructure. However, cloud solutions can be integrated with self-boarding and self-bag drop systems should the airport eventually decide to offer other services.
For its part, SITA has been working with NEC to bring mobile screening to international airports, though the technology would offer similar benefits at the regional level. The company pushed its own SITA Flex system for airports that are looking to complete their digital transformations.