Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is pushing technology for digital transformation of Saudi airports. Recently, GACA has selected aviation IT provider SITA to support the modernization of the country's biggest airports by overhauling the communication technology across 26 airports.
“GACA has mapped out a clear future for Saudi airports, enabling us to meet our continued passenger growth while maintaining the world's best airport facilities,” said Abdulhakim bin Muhammad Al-Tamimi, President of GACA.
According to SITA, the new technology is vital to improving the overall passenger experience while preparing the airports for an expected surge in passenger numbers over the next few years. Passenger traffic across all Saudi airports climbed to 92-million in 2017, a 7.7% increase compared with the previous year.
As part of the technology upgrade, SITA is implementing its AirportConnect Open platform which allows airlines to work at airports using common facilities while delivering a self-service experience from check-in to boarding. The new platform will provide the infrastructure to enable the implementation of solutions such as biometric single-token travel and common-use payment systems. Also, a new Wide Area Network (WAN) and Local Area Network (LAN) connectivity have been rolled out across all airports.
SITA said it is also providing GACA baggage management solution to meet the baggage tracking requirements of IATA's Resolution 753. Under this, SITA will help airlines track and capture baggage data at check-in, loading onto the aircraft, transfer and on arrival.
The company further said that its Airport Management solution and Flight Information Display System is being deployed in Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport, providing real-time information across the airport. This will help the operations teams to plan for events before they happen while ensuring that they have the right people and equipment in place at all times. The Airport Management solution is being rolled out in an additional 21 GACA airports before the end of the year.
SITA has also introduced Airport iValidate gates at Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport and Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport. iValidate is a traveler document authentication system that enhances security and accelerates passenger processing by automatically verifying all types of boarding passes, including mobile boarding and home-printed passes.
“Our investment in new technology underpins the development of smart airport infrastructure across Saudi Arabia and is an important part in realizing GACA's long-term strategy of improving the passenger experience across its airport network. It also supports the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030, which includes the development of our national airport and wider aviation infrastructure,” said suleiman al bassam, Vice President for Information Technology & telecommunications at GACA.