PH airline industry ready for new technologies, says AirAsia exec

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By Espie Angelica A. de Leon Philippines AirAsia chairman Marianne Hontiveros said the company believes the country?s airline industry is ready to embrace emerging technologies that will help up the ante for travel. Speaking at the kick-off forum for the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Month at Dusit Thani Manila Hotel in Makati City on June 5, Hontiveros said that the key is to get officials to agree on using technologies that had not yet been tried locally. ?But we can?t just wait for government to initiate these things,? she said. ?It?s really the private sector that leads in a lot of these things because we adopt technology that makes us more efficient, that makes us more cost effective.? Among these technologies are the latest innovations for facial recognition. In February 2018, AirAsia piloted its Fast Airport Clearance Experience System or FACES in Johor Bahru Airport in Malaysia. FACES is a facial recognition technology which allows a passenger to enter a special boarding gate after he is cleared at the immigration counter, thus eliminating the need to have his boarding pass and passport checked a second time. It also speeds up the boarding process, helping Air Asia to stick to its required 20-minute turnaround time. In addition, FACES also helps the company understand its guests or passengers better. AirAsia is currently working for the entry of FACES in Philippine airports. The problem, said Hontiveros, is that the country lags behind AirAsia?s other affiliates in terms of infrastructure, slowing down technology adoption in the Philippines. It will also be hard to install the system at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport because of congestion, admitted Hontiveros. ?But there are opportunities that we see, for instance with Clark,? she shared. ?We?re in discussion with them about really trying to get the airport to leapfrog over the other airports in Manila because they need to be able to also draw passengers to go to Clark.? What Philippine airports do have at the moment are technologies that are equally making the booking, check-in and boarding processes more efficient and convenient. Among these are the Auto Bag Drop at the Davao International Airport and Self Bag Tag which may be printed at an airport kiosk. Also available is the AirAsia Mobile App through which passengers can book their flights, choose their seats, indicate their food preferences, and others. The app also allows airline staff to track frequent flyers and sends important reminders to customers. Likewise, the company now has a huge volume of customer data accumulated over the last 15 years which it is certainly leveraging. ?We are really poised to take our full digital journey now,? said Hontiveros. ?AirAsia would not have happened if we had not embraced technology.? Known to have kickstarted many digital firsts in the airline industry, AirAsia grew from a company with two airplanes, 200 employees in Malaysia, and 200,000 guests in 2001 to one with more than 200 airplanes, over 20,000 staff of 50 nationalities, and half a billion guests. Sixty percent of these passengers are first-time travelers. ]]>

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