GSMA, IATA highlight potential of NFC usage in airports

The GSMA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are investigating the potential benefits of NFC to make it easier for airline passengers to check-in and board airliners.

The two organisations have so far identified six areas where the technology could provide a more efficient and trouble-free process for travellers first entering the airport to boarding the aircraft. The six areas where improvements using NFC could be achieved were: passenger check-in, baggage check-in, security checkpoints, lounge access, boarding and post-flight.

While passenger and baggage check-in has already become largely "paper ticket free," aircraft boarding remains a key issue for flights taking off on time. The GSMA and IATA believe, according to a report in Near Field Communications World, that NFC could provide a significant improvement by allowing passengers to simply pass their NFC-enabled handsets over the reader at the boarding gate, identifying them and their flight details. Of note, the handset would not need to be powered on for the NFC element to be active.

Perhaps helped by the GSMA's technical background, the outcome of the joint research has recognised that a SIM-based approach to delivering NFC services is the favoured route forward.

However, the two organisations said warned in a statement that a more detailed business case needed to be established by the airline industry to confirm the economic viability of NFC technology when applied for use by airports and airlines.

Last month, the GSMA stated that it was committed to supporting the launch of commercial NFC services in selected markets by next year. The industry body also called for agreements on standardisation and interoperability to prevent market fragmentation.

For more:
- see this Near Field Communications World article

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