King Khalid International Airport is one of the leading airports in the Middle East. The airport is currently experiencing the problem of delays in departures and the time taken to process arrival of goods and passengers. The management needs to find a way of solving this problem in order to improve its on-time flights. The study reveals that on-time flights can be improved if the airport embraces the new self-service technology.
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This technology reduces the reliance on human labor and in its place it introduces machines which are more efficient and effective in undertaking various activities at the airport. It makes it easy to inspect the cargo and travel documents within a short time. It also helps in carrying the traveler’s luggage and enhances security checks within a short period. The automation of this airport by embracing this technology will increase the number of cargo and passengers that it handles per year. It will help improve the profitability and desirability of the airport.
In the modern society, punctuality is one of the critical factors that determine the decisions that travelers make when choosing the mode of transport and the routes that they take (Fisk, Grove, & John, 2014). In the minds of the travelers they often ask what ways they can use to arrive on time for their planned activities in their destinations. Air transport is still the most preferred means for those who are keen on taking the shortest time possible to reach their destination (Grams, 2007). However, the issue of on-time flights, also known as online-performance, is still affecting most of the airports across the world (Koeniger, 2006).
The recent ranking of the on-time performance of international airports by International Air Transport Association showed that Middle East airports are performing dismally compared to other major airports in America and Europe (Cantoni & Xiang, 2013). The time that it takes to process departures and arrivals at airports determines their popularity among the international airports (Hall, 2015). Travelers are often keen to avoid airports where they have to spend a lot of time for the necessary approvals to be made when they are departing or arriving from other destinations. It means that this region is losing revenues that it would have enjoyed because of the tedious processes that have to be followed and the amount of time wasted before passengers or cargo can be processed (Hall, 2015).
King Khalid International Airport is one of the leading international airports in the region. It is important to find ways of improving on-time flights at this airport to make it attractive to the international travelers (Ball, Elderfield, & Raimes, 2011). The airport management board needs to find the cost-effective ways of reducing the amount of time that passengers and cargo have to take before they are approved. The following question will guide the study.
- What is the best cost-effective method to improve on-time flights at King Khalid International Airport?
Self-service technology in airports has emerged as one of the best ways of improving on-time flights in most of the airports across the world. This technology has come at the right time when King Khalid International Airport is struggling with the problem of long queues at the airport due to the use of manual system. This new technology is simple and easy to use, and it significantly reduced departure and arrival processing by over 65%.
It also reduced the overreliance on human labor that is often affected by various environmental factors. However, not all the stakeholders in the aviation sector agree that this technology is appropriate for an airport that is trying to improve its on-time delivery. Hansard (2013) says that “business passengers and frequent flyers seem to be a lot more open to the use of kiosks but once-a-year vacation flyers and those flying with a lot of luggage and large families will be more wary” (p. 41).
The scholar argues that it takes very long for these new comers to understand how to use the self-service technology if someone does not direct them. It may also lead to customer dissatisfaction as they will be confused for the better part of the process. Inasmuch as it is true that the clients may be confused for the first time, in most of the cases they often get assistance from the fellow passengers.
A study done at Melbourne International Airport by Janić (2007) indicated that in most of the cases travelers would learn how to use the technology from their peers. Bidgoli (2010) argues that “luggage drops are a potential bottleneck when using this technology hence its application should be rethought” (p. 56). However, this claim lacks credibility because a study by Murray (2010) revealed that using the technology reduced physical handling of the language by over 60% hence reducing the rate of damage.
In this paper, the researcher seeks to determine if self-service technology can help improve on-time flights at King Khalid International airport in a cost-effective manner.
Self service technology in the airports improves time efficiency in processing departing and arriving passengers and goods. This technology eliminates the use of human attendants by making it possible for the passengers to get the necessary services at automated kiosks within the airport using their mobile phones (Paustovsky, 2006). They pick their receipts from such kiosks and get all the inquiries they may have about their flights without having to interact with the attendants (Hall, 2015).
This means that time wastage common when using attendants such as taking personal breaks because of fatigue is not witnessed in this case. A study by Hansard (2013) showed that by using this technology, the processing time of airport arrivals and departures is reduced by over 65%. For example, the time that attendants would waste while attending to personal businesses is eliminated using this technology (Fisk at al., 2014).
The automated self-service carriages that come with this system ensure that luggage move from one point to another with speed irrespective of their weight. Murray (2010) says that “self-service system at the airport is the future of the airport’s operations” (p. 114). The argument is in agreement with what other scholars feel is the trend in airports (Janić, 2007). This technology will help improve on-time flights at King Khalid International Airport, as further illustrated in the paragraph below.
Self-service technology in the airports improves security checks on the departing passengers and cargo. According to Cantoni and Xiang (2013), one of the major causes of delays in airports is the process it takes to conduct thorough checks on the cargo and passengers. This is especially the case in the Middle East where the threat of terror attack is very high. The technology improves effectiveness of conducting this processe and it reduces the time (Connelly, 2012).
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A study Bidgoli (2010) showed that this technology is able to detect explosives made from various chemicals, any form of riffles or weapons that may pose a threat to passengers or crew. A good example of weapons that can be detected by this system is simple explosives made of normal chemicals that can easily be assumed to be a harmless material (Belobaba, Odoni, & Barnhart, 2016). Any form of metal is also detectable with this system.
Bidgoli (2010) says that “self-service technology is the best way of addressing the rising problem of terror that targets airports and airlines” (p. 78). When used effectively, it makes it almost impossible for one to get to the airport and into the airplanes with any form of weapon. The improved security check will help King Khalid Airport Improve its on-time flights (Koeniger, 2006). The next paragraph also demonstrates how efficiency can be enhanced by this technology.
Self service technology makes it possible for the travelers to know any changes in the flight schedule very early before traveling to the airport. In most cases the crowds that are often seen at the airports are of individuals whose flights have been rescheduled or even cancelled (Hall, 2015).
They go to the airport not knowing about this fact hence causing unnecessary congestion (Koeniger, 2006). This technology makes it possible for them to be adequately updated so that they do not have to come to the airports when there are changes in their flights. As Grams (2007) clearly reports, most of the current users of this technology are now able to make their inquiries and confirm their flights while in their homes or hotels (Belobaba et al., 2016).
They only leave after confirming that their flights are as per the original schedule. For example, the passengers can go online to the website of their booked carries and make any clarifications necessary (Murray, 2010). They can also rely on their phones because a notification is often sent to them in an hourly interval within the last three hours of their scheduled flights to either confirm or clarify a delay. Hansard (2013) says that “the system eliminates time wastage for travelers too” (p. 118). The reduced congestion at the airport helps this airport improve its on-time delivery.
Case Study: Melbourne Airport Uses SITA Self-Service Technology to Improve On-Time Flights
Melbourne International Airport is one of the leading airports to embrace self-service technology to ease congestion and improve on-time flights. The airport was experiencing delays due to the increasing number of local and international travelers using the airport (Ball et al., 2011). After a thorough review of the situation, the top management realized that increasing the number of attendants was not the solution (Connelly, 2012).
They opted to use this technology as a more efficient way of dealing with the problem (Paustovsky, 2006). One of the reasons that convinced the management that this is the right technology was the speed with which processing of the travelers’ documents was conducted. From the case study, it is clearly demonstrated that processing of these documents takes shorter time than using human labor (Fisk at al., 2014).
It means that such a technology can be replicated in other airports struggling with the same problem. It is an option that can be used by King Khalid International Airport to solve the problem of slow pace of processing passengers’ documents (Janić, 2007). The figure below shows travelers using the self service technology at Melbourne Airport
The management of Melbourne International Airport realized that this technology would help in reducing the cost of operations at the airport significantly (Cantoni & Xiang, 2013). Inasmuch as the initial cost of installing the system was high, the management realized that it would spend less in the long run in terms of reduced cost of labor (Belobaba et al., 2016). The system meant that this firm had to significantly reduce the number of its employees, some of whom were not conducting their job as diligently as expected of them, thereby causing delays (Ball et al., 2011).
The self-service system was the best way of addressing this problem (Connelly, 2012). The management hired a few individuals to direct the passengers who did not know how to use the system. It has helped this airport to lower the cost of operations (Koeniger, 2006). Employing such a technology should be given a priority at King Khalid International Airport that faces almost similar problems (Paustovsky, 2006). If used effectively, this airport will eliminate cases of industrial action among the employees that often lead to delays and dissatisfaction among the travelers.
The self-service technology has greatly improved security at Melbourne Airport. The management realized that one of the reasons why it was experiencing delays in processing arrivals and departures was that it took long to conduct security checks (Janić, 2007). The new technology makes it simpler than it was before. It is an incorruptible system that leaves nothing to chance. It takes a few seconds, unlike human labor that takes time (Hansard, 2013).
These are some of the factors that have improved the rankings of this airport in on-time flights (Connelly, 2012). A study by Murray (2010) ranked it sixth among the large international airports on the issue of punctuality with a score of 85.02%. This clearly demonstrates that it is the best practice that King Khalid International Airport needs to embrace (Grams, 2007). If it is giving good results in other major airports around the world, then chances are high that it will benefit this airport (Ball et al., 2011). It will improve on-time flights that have been a cause of concern at the airport for a long time.
It is clear that self-service technology in the airport is the best cost effective approach of improving on-time flights at King Khalid International Airport. This technology will help to address major issues that cause delays at this airport. The security checks, processing of the documents of the travelers, carrying of the luggage, and keeping of the travelers informed about their scheduled flights are some of the causes of the delays at King Khalid International Airport.
The new technology addresses all of these problems. It reduces congestions at the airports, improves security and enables the travelers to be fully aware of the events taking place in regard to their flights. It is a fact that this technology may have a high initial cost depending on the scale with which this firm may want to implement it. However, the long-term benefits that it brings will outweigh the costs. Improved efficiency of the airport will make this a popular hub that many travelers would prefer when traveling to this region. The management of this airport should realize that the technology will help in fighting the threat of terror that targets airports. Passenger confidence using the airport will improve with the improved security.
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