Catch me if you can

Catch me if you can

Air New Zealand unveils multi-million dollar technology upgrade — including RFID technology for check-in and boarding — that competitors may take years to duplicate.

Air New Zealand is rolling out a series of technology projects that will include high-tech kiosks, gate scanners, RFID and boarding passes delivered via mobile phones for its domestic flights. The technology upgrade aims to allow passengers to move quickly and seamlessly through domestic airports by minimising queues, cutting waiting time and making check-in and boarding as quick and easy as possible.

Some 2000 airline staff have been trained to use the system. It will be implemented on Monday, November 3, at Auckland Airport, to be followed by Christchurch on November 17 and Wellington in December.

The cutting edge technology will make the Auckland domestic airport the “coolest airport in the world,” says Stephen Jones, general manager domestic airline, Air New Zealand.

Jones says the technology upgrade brings Air New Zealand “to a place our competitors can’t understand completely”.

He cites the Airpoints programme that Air New Zealand launched a few years ago and which, he claims, their competitors are still playing “catch up” on.

“Airlines are good at complicating things,” quips Jones. So Air New Zealand asked customers for feedback. They essentially told them, “We don’t want to spend time at the airports – we hate them.” The customers Air New Zealand polled said they wanted to have a choice.

So the technology upgrade was planned on providing simplicity, speed, flexibility, comfort and value to customers, and choice of technology platforms, including online and mobile phones.

Jones says Air New Zealand is “very comfortable with the security elements” of the upgrade and had worked with the Civil Aviation Authority on the project.

Julia Raue, Air New Zealand CIO, says 100 people in ICT were assigned to work on the project, which began a year ago.

Raue says the ePass, a small barcode sticker, works on a radio frequency and frequent travelers can use it as a permanent and reusable boarding pass. The ePass can be attached to a mobile phone for use at the kiosks or gate when checking in and when boarding.

Customers can also access their boarding pass via email or have it delivered to their mobile phones through the airline’s mPass.

The new kiosks and scanners to be installed at domestic airports will allow passengers to check-in and print-out baggage tags without assistance, and then place their bags on a conveyor belt.

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Tags new technologies

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