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More passengers head for the airport this summer despite concerns over delays and congestion

Industry needs to address the travel experience through automation, says SITA CEO

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With the northern hemisphere summer rush around the corner, travel concerns around delayed flights, surging airfares and congestion in the airport are not putting travelers off air travel.

Preliminary findings from 2023 SITA Passenger IT Insights released today, revealed anxiety around flight cancellations was cited by 32% of passengers when booking their next flight. Nearly 2 out of 10 passengers surveyed cited concerns around congestion in the airport and pointed to high airfares. This was fueled by past experience, where 56% of respondents said they had experienced delays or cancellations and 48% long airport queues.

Yet travelers intend to fly more than ever. On average, passengers expect to take 4.7 flights this year compared to 4.2 flights in 2019. This was driven mainly by frequent flyers. Those planning more than 10 flights in 2023 have increased from 6% of passengers in 2019 to 10% this year.

David Lavorel, SITA CEO, said: “It is encouraging for our industry that passengers want to travel and want to travel better in light of some of the challenges airports and airlines have experienced with congestion in the past year. We cannot dismiss the fact that the overall experience of air travel is an essential element in passengers’ decision-making. With passengers indicating a clear intention to travel more this year, the industry is well advised to address their concerns, for example, with increased automation.”

Lavorel highlighted that earlier research from SITA indicated that airport and airline CIOs were taking this seriously by pushing digital transformation. The industry’s IT spend is projected to continue its steady year-on-year growth trend since 2020 to support digitalization and automation. Last year, airline and airport IT spending rose to an estimated US$37 billion and US$6.8 billion, respectively.

SITA surveyed more than 6,000 passengers across 27 countries in April of this year as part of the 2023 SITA Passenger IT Insights. The full report will be released on 5 September 2023.

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