Anyone who has ever waited forlornly by an airport baggage carousel only to realise that their suitcase is not going to arrive can take heart in a new development which the air transport industry reckons will save more than USD 3 billion over the next seven years.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which can accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the journey, is being rolled out globally.
Global IT provider SITA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) say that the highly accurate tracking rates of RFID technology could reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25% by 2022, mainly through efficient tracking.
The SITA/IATA business case, released this week at the IATA World Passenger Symposium taking place in Dubai, outlines how this will provide a major saving for airlines and deliver more certainty for passengers. Initial deployments of RFID by airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, show a 99% success rate for tracking bags.
In particular, RFID will address mishandling during transfer from one flight to another, one of the key areas identified by SITA and IATA where the technology could help improve baggage handling rates.
RFID technology will ensure that airports, airlines and ground handlers are able to keep track of bags at every step of the journey and ensure the right bag is loaded onto the correct flight. The technology also supports IATA’s Resolution 753 that requires by 2018 airlines keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish.
The deployment of RFID will build on the already significant savings delivered by the smart use of technology for baggage management. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2016, technology has helped reduce the number of mishandled bags by 50% from a record 46.9 million mishandled bags in 2007, saving the industry USD 22.4 billion. This improvement comes despite a sharp rise in passenger numbers over the same period.
Jim Peters, chief technology officer at SITA, said the airline industry stands “at the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking”.
“Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation – passengers will be happier, operations will run smoother and airlines will save billions of dollars.”
Initial deployments of RFID by airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, show a 99% success rate for tracking bags, helping further reduce the number of mishandled bags.
Edited by Peter Needham