Airlines could use mobile phones to cut costs

The airline industry could save £300m a year using passengers' mobile phones

The airline industry could save £300m a year using passengers' mobile phones to reduce the impact of flight delays.

Research from airline IT provider SITA and Cambridge University shows mobile phones could be used as passenger tracking devices and could hold boarding passes, baggage tracking information and payment data. This would reduce paperwork and check-in procedures.

The research also suggested mobile devices could be used to store visa and biometric information.

The report - distributed at this week's SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels - shows location-based technology in mobile phones could be used to send passengers messages instructing them to move to changing gates. This would improve turnaround times and reduce delays.

Jim Peters, chief technology officer at SITA, said, "These 'digital travellers' will have on-demand access to a range of mobile-enabled services, such as real-time flight updates, self-service booking, check-in and boarding, and mobile payments.

"Some of these services are already available to passengers. For example, in Norway, Japan and Germany, paperless travel is a reality on some routes."

He added, "Our research shows these mobile services will be available to all travellers worldwide over the next five years. In fact, by the end of 2010, 67% of airlines plan to offer mobile check-in. By then, 82% of airlines also plan to offer notification services on mobiles."

The report also demonstrates other areas where the air transport industry can gain from adopting these technologies.

Using mobiles as tracking devices, airports can not only move passengers more efficiently, but also market revenue-earning services.

During a recent trial at Manchester Airport, redemption of vouchers sent to passengers' mobile phones resulted in 45% higher spending than among other shoppers.

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