Plan for elec­tronic tags could save bil­lions

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­trick Ryan @ThatPad­dyRyan pa­trick@7days.ae

Plans to in­tro­duce elec­tronic tags placed on every air pas­sen­ger’s bag could save the avi­a­tion in­dus­try an es­ti­mated $3 bil­lion in the com­ing years, a con­fer­ence has heard.

Del­e­gates at­tend­ing the In­ter­na­tional Air Travel As­so­ci­a­tion’s (IATA) World Sym­po­sium in Dubai were told the sim­ple move could lead to an end of woes for pas­sen­gers that ar­rive at their des­ti­na­tion to find their bags are missing.

All air­lines have signed up to im­ple­ment elec­tronic bag tag­ging by 2018, a de­ci­sion that IATA’s Head of Global Bag­gage Op­er­a­tions, An­drew Price, told 7DAYS will save the in­dus­try bil­lions in com­pen­sa­tion and lo­gis­ti­cal costs.

He said: “There is a say­ing in the bag­gage in­dus­try that so far it is like a sausage fac­tory.

“It goes in one side and out the other – but no­body knows ex­actly what hap­pens or what the in­gre­di­ents are.

“At the mo­ment there is never a prob­lem with 99.4 per cent of bags and while the re­main­der, 0.6 per cent, might sound like a small num­ber, that’s a lot of bags.”

Air­lines have un­til Jan­uary 2018 to bring in a sys­tem to track bag­gage.

Air France-KLM and Brus­sels Air­lines are among those al­ready work­ing on tags, while Qan­tas of­fers a per­ma­nent de­vice for do­mes­tic fly­ers.

Price urged air­lines to adopt a sim­ple Ra­dio Fre­quency Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion (RFID) de­vice, the tech­nol­ogy for which has been around since 1941, he said.

He added: “Ad­vances in the tech­nol­ogy and the im­mense ben­e­fits it brings to the air­line in­dus­try has prompted IATA to re­visit and fully ex­plore the ben­e­fits of RFID.”

Price said that Qatar’s Doha In­ter­na­tional Air­port is lead­ing the way in the Mid­dle East and has al­ready been equipped to be fully RFID-friendly.

Global IT provider SITA is work­ing along­side IATA to bring the sys­tem to the fore­front of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

Ac­cord­ing to IATA’s 2016 global re­port on bag­gage, it has al­ready helped re­duce lost bag­gage num­bers by 50 per cent since 2007, when the fig­ure stood at 46.9 mil­lion lost bags – a sav­ing of $22.4 bil­lion.

Peter Drum­mond, SITA’s Head of Bag­gage, said the im­ple­men­ta­tion of RFID tech­nol­ogy will cost air­lines an in­vest­ment of 10 cents per pas­sen­ger.

“It will re­turn about 20 cents per pas­sen­ger, though. It will save the en­tire in­dus­try $3 bil­lion by 2022,” he added.

“The in­dus­try is at a tip­ping point and has al­ready demon­strated the value it can bring.”

The sym­po­sium ends today.

‘There is a say­ing in the bag­gage in­dus­try that it is like a sausage fac­tory. It goes in one side and out the other – but no­body knows ex­actly what hap­pens.’

– IATA’s Head of Global Bag­gage Op­er­a­tions, An­drew Price

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