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Smartphones to drive self-service technology in Saudi Arabia

December 2016

December 14, 2016 | 12:00 | Dubai

The use of self-service technology in Saudi Arabia is expected to surge in the next 12 months as an increasing number of airline passengers opt for technology rather than face-to-face interactions at the airport. These are the findings of the 2016 Passenger IT Trends Survey revealed today by air transport technology provider SITA.

In particular, mobile self-service usage across key steps in the airport journey is expected to surge in 2017. A growing number of airline passengers have indicated that they plan to use mobile self-service options in the next 12 months – 20% for check-in and 24% for self-boarding – up from 4% for check-in and 14% for boarding in 2016.   This increase is being helped by the fact that more than 96% of all Saudi travelers carry one or more smartphones.

Airline passengers are also demanding more mobile services in the coming year. More than 70% of passengers would like to receive notifications regarding their baggage while 71% would like to receive flight updates.

While 79% of Saudi travelers were happy with their overall journey, far fewer experienced positive emotions at key steps such as security (69%), passport control (68%) and baggage collection (64%). These areas also corresponded with steps in the journey where no self-service options were available. Yet 88% of airline passengers experienced positive emotions when booking their flights – a step where 87% of travelers used self-service technology.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is expanding and upgrading all 26 airports it operates and the airports are expected to have a combined capacity to handle over 100 million travelers by 2020. Technology will play a key role in the expansion and modernization of the country’s airport infrastructure.

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