Deployment of Radio Frequency Identification technology, can enable the air transport industry to save $3 billion over seven years.

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Global IT provider SITA and IATA revealed that the highly accurate tracking rates of RFID technology could reduce the number of mishandled bags by as much as 25% by 2022, mainly through efficient tracking.

In particular, RFID will address mishandling during transfer from one flight to another by ensuring that airports, airlines, and ground handlers are able to keep track of bags at every step of the journey. The technology supports IATA’s Resolution 753 that requires airlines to track each item of checked baggage, at key points in the journey, by 2018.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer at SITA, said: “The airline industry is at the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking. Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation — passengers will be happier, operations will run smoother, and airlines will save billions of dollars.”

Andrew Price, Head of Global Baggage Operations at IATA agreed. “Over the past few years, we have seen more work to help airlines introduce and reap the benefits of RFID technology through better oversight of their baggage operations,” he said. “The advances in the technology and the immense benefits it brings to the airline industry have prompted IATA to revisit and fully explore the benefits of RFID today.”

The SITA/IATA business case shows that RFID capabilities can be deployed for as little as 10 cents per passenger on average while generating expected savings of more than 20 cents per passenger. With some big airlines and airports already introducing RFID technology, combined with the fact that it is compatible with existing barcode technology, adoption of RFID across all airports could provide a positive return for airlines, both in cost savings and passenger satisfaction.

SITA’s and IATA's assumptions are based on RFID being deployed in 722 airports (representing 95% of passenger numbers globally) over a six-year period between 2016 and 2021 while the savings are calculated over seven years. The figures for 2016 take into account the RFID infrastructure already deployed or about to be deployed at multiple induction points on the baggage journey.

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