The recent launch by ACI (Airports Council International, the global representative body for airports) and IATA (International Air Transport Association, the global representative body for airlines) of a project to collaborate on exploiting technology advances in order to enhance the customer experience can only be good news for air travellers.

Often at loggerheads over airport charges and preferred regulatory regimes, the decision by these two agencies to work together represents an important development in terms of trust and cooperation. The objective is to address the projected doubling in demand for air travel over the next twenty years by using technological developments to improve processes and as such, also demonstrates the commitment of both organisations to meet evolving customer needs and expectations. Moreover, it may well lead to further joint arrangements to tackle some of the challenges ahead, e.g. joint submissions to regulatory bodies in terms of air space management, airport development planning applications, safety and security procedures, etc.

The initiative is titled the New Experience in Travel and Technologies (NEXTT; and aims to ‘transform the complete end-to-end journey’ for passengers, baggage, cargo, and aircraft by focusing on three areas of customer service and operational efficiency (which may also offer additional revenue-generating opportunities for the transport companies);

  1. Off-airport activities; moving certain processing activities such as security clearance and baggage drop-off to off-site locations, e.g. at central rail and bus stations or in city centre hotels;

  2. Advanced processing technologies; deploying tracking and robotics technologies to benefit efficiencies in safety and security, e.g. biometrics and smart tags to securely identify passengers and their luggage; and

  3. Interactive decision-making; using artificial intelligence and data analytics to improve real-time decision-making, e.g. using shared data to send personalised messages to passengers about queue times, flight delays, gate changes, etc.

Although some of these ideas are already well advanced, this visionary partnership offers a significant opportunity to provide an integrated, seamless and comprehensive approach to meeting the needs over the next twenty years of some 16 billion passengers, 130 million flights, and 160 million tonnes of cargo.

Padraic currently holds the position of Ussher Assistant Professor in International Strategic Management at Trinity College Dublin. His career to date has spanned both academic and industry worlds. Academically, he obtained his PhD in Strategy from University College Dublin's Smurfit Graduate School in 2009 (he also attained a BA, BComm and MBA from UCD). His experience in management education exceeds twenty years and he has worked for a number of third-level institutions, including the Open University Business School and the Irish American University in Dublin. Commercially, Padraic worked for over twenty years in the aviation sector, specifically Airport Management, and he has held a number of Senior Management positions in Aer Rianta (now Dublin Airport Authority) and Aer Rianta International Middle East, including Head of Business Strategy, Head of Marketing, Head of Business Development, and Head of Services (Operations). Germany, Oman, Turkey and Yemen are just some of the countries where Padraic has undertaken Aviation Consultancy projects. Padraic's current responsibilities include MSc in Management Programme Director, BESS Committee Member, College Tutor, UG and PG Committee Member and Senior Sophister Year Coordinator. Research interests focus on strategic decision-making processes, entrepreneurship, cross-cultural management, and academic integrity. Industry research focuses on Aviation Management.