Airlines can achieve greater cost savings and better customer service, but only if the industry moves together, according to British Airways chief information officer Paul Coby.
More of the industry needs to embrace technologies such as e-tickets, self-service kiosks, bar-coded boarding passes and RFID baggage tags.
"For technology to fully bring business change the whole industry needs to move forward," said Coby.
"It's no good just introducing new applications at Heathrow; you need to ensure that the hundreds of other airports and partners around the world can also use it."
He suggested that the International Air Transport Association needed to take the lead in ensuring that the industry adopts common standards for ticketing, self-service kiosks and RFID baggage tagging.
Coby, who is chairman of airline IT organisation SITA Group, explained that the aviation community needed to make a smarter and more customer-focused investment in IT and telecoms to help achieve sustained profitability.
BA plans to deploy e-ticketing across 100 per cent of its operations by the end of the financial year as part of a vision to extend electronic self-service to customers.
"We want to offer customers the ability to book, choose their seat and print a boarding card at home, so that all they need to do is check in their luggage and head through security to the plane," said Coby.
He added that BA had trialled RFID tagging to help locate passenger baggage in the airport, but that the technology still needed a greater global presence in the airline industry.
"The cost used to be too great but, as RFID tags become mass market, that's not going to be an issue," said Coby.
"But the challenge is to kit out all the airports and partners with RFID technology and there's no way we will be able to convert the whole airline industry over night."
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