Airlines reject RFID as universal industry solution to lost bags

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Airlines reject RFID as universal industry solution to lost bags

Antony Savvas

The airline industry has rejected radio frequency identification (RFID) technology as a universal solution to tackle lost baggage.

Industry body IATA has said that RFID will not be rolled out as an industry-wide solution to address the problem of lost bags, after trials showed that RFID would only prevent 20% of the annual lost-bag total.

About 2% of the 2.25 billion pieces of checked luggage a year are lost on route, according to industry figures.

Earlier this year, The annual SITA Baggage Report, backed by industry body IATA, estimated that the industry could save about £350m a year in lost baggage costs if it adopted RFID technology across the board.

Francesco Violante, SITA chief executive, said at the time of the report, "It is important that we continue to move towards a comprehensive, fully integrated global baggage-management system, that can direct, track and trace passenger baggage throughout the entire journey from check-in to final delivery at the destination.

"RFID has a role to play and could save the industry as much as £350m a year if it was fully implemented across the industry."

But Giovanni Bisignani, director general of IATA, told this week's annual SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels, "The industry spends £1.9bn a year dealing with lost bags, but RFID would only solve 20% of these problems.

"IATA is not writing off RFID, but it is not suitable as a universal solution to the problem."

Bisignani said there would be an eventual take-up of RFID systems in the industry, as the next generation of planes, for instance, would be fitted out with RFID systems to help load and track bags.

BA CIO Paul Coby, who is also chairman of SITA, said, "RFID is not seen as a widespread industry solution for baggage tracking, it is more useful for other areas, like maintenance." BA itself has started to use RFID to help track bags.





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