Airlines and airports predicted to invest more than $61 billion in IT in 2019, up from the $50 billion spent last year.
According to the SITA 2019 Air Transport IT Insights study, IT investments are paying off both in terms of passenger satisfaction levels and average processing time.
The report reveals 60% of airline chief information officers recorded an increase in passenger satisfaction of 20% year-on-year while 45% saw the rate of passengers processed improve by up to a fifth.
Airports reported similar gains with 63% of CIOs seeing a 20% increase in customer satisfaction, and 44% witnessed faster passenger progressing times.
Overall, IT spend is increasing, according to the report, for airlines as a percentage of revenue to 4.84% while airport IT spend was 6.06% of revenue.
The predicted percentage for 2019 is 5.22% of revenue for airlines and 6.26% for airports.
Sergio Colella, SITA president for Europe, says the investment trend is about managing the congestion in airports with AI and business intelligence investments helping to improve the passenger experience.
He points to industry predictions that passenger volumes will double in the next 20 years with growth not only at major hubs but second-tier airports as well.
The study also shows that spending priorities for airlines and airports are converging with airlines citing cloud, cyber security and business intelligence as their top three, while for airports, cyber security replaces cloud for the top spot.
When it comes to emerging technologies, airlines are focusing on artificial intelligence, with 44% saying they are planning a major program by 2022.
Blockchain is also singled out, with 15% saying they have a major program planned by 2022, and 57% say they are running a pilot project.
For airports, the top emerging technologies they are looking at are business intelligence and biometrics.