Fast Travel programme nearing its target

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Air China Fast Travel programme
Air China went live with the ‘bags ready to go’ project in Beijing as part of the Fast Travel programme. The Chinese carrier installed self-service kiosks with self-tagging in April this year.

Like each of the Simplifying the Business (StB) initiatives, Fast Travel has been developed to satisfy two specific criteria: to lower the costs incurred by the airline industry and to improve the passenger experience.

The overall aim of the project is that by 2020, 80% of global passengers will be offered a complete self-service suite based on industry standards. In order to achieve this, the programme is made up of six separate self-service concepts, five of which are active, with each designed to provide the passenger with more control over their air transport experience.

These five projects are: bags ready to go (self-tagging and fast bag drop); document check; self-boarding; flight re-booking; and bag recovery (lost bag registration). The sixth part of the programme covers self-service check-in but with industry standards already being developed on a global scale, this is not active within Fast Travel.

Having set a target of achieving 114 implementations before the end of 2010, the programme is on target to satisfy this aim. “This target means that we will need a total of 60 new implementations this year alone,” Copart explained. “In terms of where we are today, we are at 97 overall, with 43 new implementations so far this year. So, we are about two thirds of the way down the line and we’re very confident that we will achieve our aim.”

Global appeal

Lufthansa’s self-boarding gates at Munich Airport
The Fast Travel programme aims to achieve 114 separate self-service installations before the end of 2010. So far, there have been 97 installations, including Lufthansa’s self-boarding gates at Munich Airport.

In keeping with IATA’s ideology, Fast Travel is a truly global initiative; a fact highlighted by the vast array of airlines that have already taken steps to implement at least one of the five active self-service projects.

Among them is Air China, which has installed self-service kiosks with self-tagging at Beijing, while Air New Zealand has also implemented self-service technology in Auckland Airport’s domestic terminal. Meanwhile, United Airlines, Lufthansa and the Star Alliance have also embraced the programme, with implementations at Reagan Washington National, Munich and Copenhagen respectively.

Copart: "Fast Travel benefits the passenger not just because they can do these things themselves, but also because it's reducing queues and putting the passenger in control of their journey."

Copart said: “We’re very pleased with the way Fast Travel has been received by the industry. The programme has continually exceeded its targets since its inception and the fact that it is not a mandatory programme shows the strength of what Fast Travel provides in terms of a win-win proposition to the industry.”

Industry-wide benefits

While the programme was developed partly in response to the findings of the 2009 IATA Corporate Air Travel Survey (CATS) – which found that the majority of the 10,000 frequent air travellers questioned would like to see the introduction of more self-service options within the industry – Copart explained that the benefits equally extend to airlines and airports.

“Fast Travel benefits the passenger not just because they can do these things themselves, but also because it’s reducing queues and putting the passenger in control of their journey. There’s transparency between the passenger and the airline and that builds confidence and trust,” he said. “For the airport, one of the biggest benefits is maximising the infrastructure, while for airlines it maximises operations at various levels. For example, self-boarding has improved the turnaround time of aircraft at the gate. That allows airlines to optimise their staffing requirements and provide their staff with more added-value passenger-related tasks.”

As well as improving both the passenger experience and the operational efficiency of airlines and airports, Fast Travel also offers a significant financial benefit. “Approximately $1.6 billion dollars could be saved annually should this be implemented fully,” Copart said. This figure only takes into account four of the six projects, with check-in and flight re-booking excluded – the latter of which is subject to the continued development of a business case – meaning that overall savings would be even greater once all of the projects are taken into consideration.

IATA Simplifying the Business workshops

Stephan Copart, project manager, Fast Travel – IATA, will lead the Simplifying the Business (StB) interactive workshop at Check-In 2010, which will be held in Las Vegas from 8-10 September.

IATA will also host an StB workshop – which will include Fast Travel – at Check-In Asia, hosted Malaysia Airports from 24-26 November.