ACSA promotes self-service

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 04 Feb 2008

Passengers departing Johannesburg through the domestic terminal of OR Tambo International Airport can now escape the queues and obtain their boarding passes through self-service.

Passengers can use one of several "Flight Check" kiosks on the departures floor to obtain a boarding pass and can then check in baggage using a separate, nearby hand-off point. Those with hand luggage only can immediately proceed to the security checkpoint and from there the departure gate.

The move to self-service is part of a global drive under the auspices of the International Air Travel Association (IATA). "In a nutshell, yes IATA is instrumental in rolling out this technology worldwide," says SA spokesman Linden Birns.

He adds that SAA and British Airways (Comair) have deployed the technology at OR Tambo, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth airports.

The "Common Use Self-Service" programme - as IATA calls it - forms part of the global association's broader "Simplifying the Business" initiative, along with bar-coded boarding passes, RFID baggage tag technology and e-freight.

The initiative comes at the end of a year that IATA director-general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani calls "the best in recent memory" for air transport. Bisignani says international passenger traffic demand grew 7.4% for the full-year 2007, up considerably from the 5.9% increase recorded during 2006. In Africa, carriers recorded "above average growth" of 8%, reflecting the strong economic growth and successful market liberalisation in parts of the continent, he notes.

He adds that international airfreight traffic grew by 4.3% in 2007, down slightly from growth of 4.6% seen in 2006 and much lower than the 7% to 8% growth trend of recent years.

"Strong passenger traffic growth of 7.4% was a key component of the industry's $5.6 billion profit in 2007 - the first black number since 2000," explains Bisignani.

"Despite the ambiguity of strong passenger growth accompanied by weaker freight demand, we can say clearly that 2007 was the best in recent memory. We can state equally clearly that there will be no encore performance in 2008.

"Oil prices are higher than ever. Economic uncertainty accompanying the US credit crunch is broadening. And the slower growth for passenger demand in December sets the trend for the coming months. In a tough business environment, the mantra remains the same: efficiency everywhere is everything," says Bisignani.

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