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How Mobile Apps are Transforming Air Transportation

Over 1.5 billion airline boarding passes will be delivered via smartphones by 2019, compared to approximately 745 million boarding passes estimated to be delivered this year, according to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research.

This means boarding passes that are presented via a smartphone will represent 1 in 3 boarding passes issued by all airlines at the end of 2019.

However, adoption of this approach is not mainstream. Mobile boarding passes are increasingly used by frequent flyers, but less used by leisure passengers who are less familiar with the technology.

According to SITA, the airline IT specialist, 53 percent of airlines have already implemented mobile boarding passes via software apps -- which is expected to rise to 91 percent by 2017.


Furthermore, Juniper found that the majority of airlines have implemented boarding passes via apps, and the industry is witnessing rapid adoption in markets such as the U.S., Far East and Europe.

Some of the early adopting airlines are recording double-digit growth for boarding passes delivered via a mobile phone. New digital ticketing technology has the potential to further transform the industry.

However, the success of mobile barcode boarding pass adoption has meant that the transition to near-field communication (NFC) applications on smartphones could be delayed.

"The ultimate position that NFC can reach in the airline industry is the extinction of the boarding pass -- whereby boarding pass, baggage tickets and identity information can be stored on the phone and simply accessed using NFC readers," said Nitin Bhas, head of research at Juniper Research.

Other key findings from the market study include:

  • The metro/bus sector will dominate mobile ticketing transaction volumes, due to the relative frequency of consumer purchase.
  • Metro/bus NFC-ticketing is expected to gain traction in the medium term in critical markets such as Europe and Asia as gating infrastructure is upgraded.

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