Generative AI, the good, the bad, and the risky

by Gustavo Pina Director of SITA Lab

Gus Pina is the Director of SITA Lab, the company’s strategic research and development arm. Created in 2008, SITA Lab explores new technology. It drives innovations for the air transport community, working independently and in partnership with others on pilot projects in robotics, big data, AI, wearable technology, and many others.

With 25 years in the IT industry, Gus has always been passionate about transforming business processes with emerging technologies. Prior to SITA, Gus spearheaded key roles in digital transformations across FedEx, Delta Air Lines, and Macy’s. We spoke to him to determine what drives SITA’s innovation roadmap.

The evolution of AI in chatbots

The last year has seen significant announcements and global public attention towards emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Large Language Model (LLM) platforms like ChatGPT. Capturing both the public’s imagination and sparking fears around the rapid evolution of these transformative technologies, many industries are now speculating over the future of their products and services in a shifting technological landscape.

Chatbots and virtual assistants are among the most common use cases of customer-facing generative AI in the air transport industry. The rise of chatbots and virtual assistants expanded in the 2010s with the likes of Siri and Alexa. Like many other customer-facing industries, the air transport industry started leveraging the trend for AI-driven chatbot customer services.  

Before the availability of generative AI technology, chatbots were relatively limited in capability and required significant investment in development, training and tuning. Generative AI, and in particular LLMs such as ChatGPT, can make the user experience much richer without the resource of expensive machine learning training. They also provide a much broader knowledge base to work from.

Back in 2017, a small percentage of airlines and airports used AI-driven chatbots. We predicted that by 2020 68% of airlines and 42% of airports would have plans to adopt AI-driven chatbot services offering customer support. 

Our latest Air Transport IT Insights finds that the adoption of AI will continue to increase: airlines (76%) and airports (68%) are planning major programs, or R&D, for AI by 2025. 

Some of these programs today are directly customer-facing. For example, Etihad plans to use AI to enable passengers to book flights: Etihad Becomes The Latest Airline To Embrace AI Chatbots (

Clearly, while AI, and generative AI, are still relatively new, they have the potential to transform travel. 

Harnessing AI in the air transport industry today

As a global IT and communications provider for the travel and transport industry, we continuously explore and leverage emerging technologies to transform business models and processes – to help the industry reduce costs, overcome operational hurdles, and improve the passenger experience.

Starting with our SITA Lab innovation team and expanding across our product portfolios, we thrive on solving the industry challenges of today and tomorrow. SITA Lab explores new technology and drives innovations for the air transport community, working independently and in partnership with others on pilot projects in robotics, big data, AI, wearable technology, and many others.

While there are risks, generative AI’s opportunities for the air transport industry are immense. As part of our continuing work around AI, we are exploring numerous use cases to streamline processes, drive new operational insights and improve collaboration between airlines, airports, governments, and other stakeholders.

For instance, much process interaction between these stakeholders is through text-based document exchange (for legacy reasons). LLMs make it possible to extract meaning and intent from these human-readable documents into machine-readable and interpretable information. This bridge from human-readable text to digital computer interfaces will enhance greater collaboration and knowledge sharing, speeding up processes and enhancing industry efficiencies.

Today, we use AI, including machine learning, for data analytics, in several ways. See a few examples outlined below: 

(1) We offer SITA OptiClimb® as part of our SITA OptiFlight® suite of solutions, the industry’s only machine-learning solutions that analyze aircraft data and weather to optimize fuel and flight paths. The SITA OptiClimb® solution, aimed at airlines, delivers fuel savings of 5% for each flight while reducing annual CO2 emissions by thousands of tons and operational costs by millions of dollars.

(2) Our SITA WorldTracer® Lost and Found Property leverages machine learning and several other emerging technologies to solve the global multi-million lost property problem by handling lost and found issues promptly and accurately, reuniting passengers with their lost property, and ensuring GDPR compliance. 

The technology behind the solution searches a global database of images and descriptions to match the found item to a missing item report. The solution uses image recognition to identify details such as the missing item’s brand, material, and color. It also recognizes similar words in the description to make a definitive match. 

Lost and Found Property cuts the cost of repatriating lost items by 90%. Airline employees can register a found item, create a missing item report, and validate a match in under two minutes. The solution also dramatically speeds up the time taken to find and return found items, with 60% of these items returned within the first 48 hours.

(3) Our border technologies are leveraging AI too. For example, we use it in our biometric identification technologies that support more modern border control procedures to increase security, improve border agencies’ operational efficiency, and generally provide a more pleasurable immigration experience for the traveler. 

We use AI to rapidly improve the performance of face recognition software to a point where they meet and even exceed the performance of other biometric modalities, such as iris and fingerprint, while being more convenient. A combination of more powerful edge processors with machine learning models is enabling face recognition on devices like mobile phones and smart security cameras.

(4) In our SITA Lab, we are developing next-generation digital assistants that leverage LLMs to create much richer chatbot-type interfaces than the first-generation chatbots. These bots have access to a combination of airport manuals, passenger points of interest, and real-time operational data. These assistants can be deployed at the airport to augment existing information service desks or within airline and airport apps.

We are also developing digital assistants to assist with airport operations systems. The assistant can provide advice on routine operational decisions, freeing up time for the airport staff to deal with more complex scenarios.

(5) AI is being used to help us resolve our airport customers’ technical issues, enhance communications, and increase customer self-service through virtual agents.

Here at SITA, we see great potential for generative AI across the entire travel and transport industry and we will leverage more of it to improve the effectiveness of our solutions and services to support the industry.

Assessing the risks of AI

There are many opportunities that we are exploring with AI. Of course, AI has several potential risks, from privacy violations to discrimination.

In addition to the traditional machine-learning risks, generative AI brings a new category of risk. The most commonly known is when ChatGPT ‘hallucinates’ and provides answers that sound convincing but are wrong or just invented. In the case of LLMs, careful use of Prompt Engineering and limiting the LLM to a specific data source (such as an airport’s operations manual) can prevent this from happening.

Until trust in these systems is established, it is important to have a human in the decision-making process and to build guardrails to autonomous systems.

source :

Hamad Airport launches new navigation and digital customer service solution for “seamless and enhanced airport journey”

Hamad International Airport is elevating its passenger experience with innovative digital wayfinding. QR codes are leveraged to provide an easy to use wayfinding solution through different digital touchpoints.

Hamad International Airport is elevating its passengers’ airport experience with the introduction of innovative digital wayfinding. QR codes are leveraged to provide an easy to use wayfinding solution through different digital touchpoints located across the terminal.

Whether trying to navigate from ORCHARD to LampBear, wanting to try one of the many dining or retail experiences at the airport, or finding a departure gate, the aim is that passengers will experience frictionless wayfinding.

The QR Codes are available across the airport through Flight Information Display Screens, Passenger Digital Assistance Kiosks and other key touchpoints. The new digital solution is compatible with all mobile devices and passengers can seamlessly connect to Hamad International Airport’s next-generation Wi-Fi to use the service.

“We are constantly reviewing and evaluating our multiple digital touchpoints for passengers to ensure we meet their requirements,” said Suhail Kadri, Senior Vice President of Technology and Innovation, Hamad International Airport. “By investing and utilising the latest innovative technological solutions and listening to global passenger requirements at our airport, we will continue to set and exceed industry standards.”

Digital Concierges located at ORCHARD include information about retail and F&B offerings, flight information, relaxation and rejuvenation options, and attractions at the airport. Travellers can scan the QR code to navigate to their chosen point of interest on their mobile.

The airport has also introduced the Passenger Digital Assistance Kiosks, which are located at the North Plaza and around the iconic LampBear to further enhance the passenger experience.

As part of its digital transformation strategy, Hamad International Airport is constantly investing in the latest technology and innovative solutions designed to “optimise operations and provide a seamless and enhanced airport journey for passengers”.

source :

The New Sustainable Travel Journey

Jeremy Aniere, Vice President of Operations, Singapore & General Manager, Pan Pacific Singapore, Pan Pacific Hotels Group; Jason Loe, Founder, Tribe; Gerald Ng, Vice President, Environment & Sustainability, Changi Airport Group, discuss how they are cultivating more sustainable travel experiences and contributing to a greener and more inclusive future. (Source: Bloomberg)

Hamburg Airport on The Way to Becoming a Hydrogen Hub: EU Funds The “Baltic Sea Region Project”

Hamburg Airport on the way to becoming a hydrogen hub: EU funds the “Baltic Sea Region Project”.

Hamburg Airport is taking the next big step towards becoming a hydrogen hub in the general aviation sector. As part of the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Programme, the “Baltic Sea Region Project” initiated by Hamburg Airport will receive support in the “Green Mobility” funding category.

The project aims to better connect rural Baltic Sea regions to existing aviation hubs with hydrogen-powered small aircraft. The project “BSR Hydrogen Air Transport – Preparation of Baltic Sea Region Airports for Green Hydrogen” is expected to start in November 2023. The project is scheduled to last about three years and involves 16 project partners and 24 associated organisations in addition to Hamburg Airport.

The project budget is up to 4.8 million euros, of which about 1.1 million euros will be allocated to Hamburg Airport. The project partners expect EU funding of around 80 percent.

Important contents of the “Baltic Sea Region Project” are the development of the supply chain for green, gaseous hydrogen from production to the fuelling of aircraft or airport ground equipment, as well as test operations. Almost all major airport operators around the Baltic Sea are part of the partnership, e.g. Finavia, Swedavia, Lithuanian Airports, Riga Airport, Tallinn Airport.

The project development and application was initiated by Hamburg Airport, the lead partner of the partnership. As the project aims, among other things, at revitalising regional air traffic, several smaller airports and regional airlines are also involved in the partnership. Relevant technology providers, universities and authorities are also partners or associated organisations.

In Germany, Sylt Airport, Sylt Air, Lübeck Air and Lübeck Airport are project partners. In addition, there are the following associated organisations: Ministry of Economics, Transport, Labour Technology and Tourism of the State of Schleswig-Holstein (MWVATT), Hamburg Aviation e.V., ZAL Zentrum für Angewandte Luftfahrtforschung, Hamburg Authority for Economics and Innovation (BWI).

Especially for smaller aircraft: Hydrogen as the engine of the future

Michael Eggenschwiler, Chairman of the Executive Board at Hamburg Airport:

These are exciting days for the future of aviation.

“We recently announced our cooperation with Rotterdam The Hague Airport on a flight connection for hydrogen-based aircraft, and now we are getting the green light for the Baltic Sea Region Project. It is no coincidence that Hamburg Airport is one of the drivers of innovation: as an airport, we have set ourselves the goal of reducing our CO2 emissions to zero by 2035 and completely foregoing compensation.”

“So it is only logical that we also make a concrete commitment to an environmentally compatible future for aviation. As a hydrogen hub, we can contribute to this development very well.”

Jan Eike Hardegen, Head of Environment at Hamburg Airport:

Hydrogen offers great potential for climate-neutral flights on short-haul routes.

“General aviation with smaller, future hydrogen-powered aircraft is particularly suitable here. Gaseous hydrogen is the propulsion of the future, especially for smaller general aviation aircraft, such as turboprops with 20-30 seats.” These aircraft can also be used to connect more rural regions of the Baltic Sea countries according to demand. Therefore, the primary goal of the initiated “Baltic Sea Region Project” is to power hydrogen-based air transport in the Baltic Sea region.

Real H2 demonstration flight from Hamburg planned

The project aims to clarify the prerequisites for an airport infrastructure that is geared towards H2-powered aircraft. At the end of the project, all airports should be prepared to invest and implement their infrastructure projects on their own.

At the end of the project period, a real demonstration flight with a hydrogen-powered aircraft is planned from Hamburg Airport. With this project, Hamburg Airport wants to work out the possibilities of general aviation in H2 technology. In addition to this development aspect, a completely new network of flight connections is also to be opened up.

Net Zero 2035: Hamburg Airport supports climate-friendly flying

With its climate strategy “Net Zero 2035 – Now. For the Future”, Hamburg Airport aims to reduce the airport city’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2035 – as the first major airport in Germany to do so. In addition, Hamburg Airport supports air traffic on its way to a CO2-free future.

The goals of Net Zero 2035 include active support for research and development: the “Baltic Sea Region Project” is an example of how alternative propulsion options can further advance aviation in the field of climate-friendly flying.

read full article here :

How is Tallinn Airport aiming to be net zero by 2030?

Riivo Tuvike, CEO at Tallinn Airport, is back writing for IAR’s Cleaner, Greener Airports Series and details the work going into achieving the airport’s aims to be carbon neutral by 2025 and to become a net zero hub of air travel by 2030.

How is Tallinn Airport aiming to be net zero by 2030?

Riivo Tuvike, CEO at Tallinn Airport, is back writing for IAR’s Cleaner, Greener Airports Series and details the work going into achieving the airport’s aims to be carbon neutral by 2025 and to become a net zero hub of air travel by 2030.

Tallinn Airport will never be the biggest airport in the world, but it is the world’s cosiest, and people have a lot of love for it. It is, after all, just 5km from the city centre (a rarity for a capital city), bordered by forest and on the shores of Lake Ülemiste. This certainly makes for pretty landings, and it gives arriving passengers a true sense of what Estonia’s like. But at the same time, it presents a major challenge, since the impact of our operations is felt, and is visible, immediately over the fence line.

Tallinn Airport has invested almost €80 million in sustainability since 2012. This has resulted in a significant reduction in our carbon footprint – 25% between 2018 and 2022 alone. Achieving these sorts of transformations is never easy, but with determination to mitigate environmental impact and set an example to others, it can be done.

How did Tallinn Airport bring about such a substantial reduction in its CO2 emissions?

We pinpointed our biggest sources of carbon emissions and set about lessening them. Green issues have been in greater focus at the airport over the last two or three years, in which time we’ve made several initiatives and achieved our most significant reductions.

As for the sources of emissions and how much we’ve been able to limit them, the fact that we operate 24/7, like so many airports around the world, means our buildings and runway have to be constantly lit and our facilities heated and fully functional. As such, electricity, heating and our fleet of vehicles account for the majority of our CO2 emissions.

To reduce emissions (and costs) from the use of electricity, we started constructing solar farms in our airports all over Estonia in 2020. This meant we also started using green energy, which has helped us cut emissions in 2022 from electricity by 11% compared to 2019. A total of 15 solar farms around the country, with total peak power capacity of 6.5MW, now power our airports. Last year we covered 14% of our electricity needs from our solar farms, while this year we predict that the farms will generate up to 40% of the energy we require. In May alone, parks produced 54% of our electricity consumption. In sunny weather, the farms at our regional airports produce more electricity than the facilities there can use. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, the solar farms have helped us cut costs and make gainful use of land that would otherwise have stood empty.

To take further steps forward from here, we’ve decided to buy in and use only renewables-based electricity from 01 January 2024. This means that by next year our carbon emissions from electricity will have been reduced to a minimum.

CEO of Tallinn Airport, Riivo Tuvike

Our airport may be small, but it still covers a lot of ground, and inevitably we have to use vehicles to get around. Here, too, we have to take a smart approach. Estonia’s situated in a climate with four distinct seasons. This means we get both sleet and snow, as well as heatwaves and dry spells. Such varying conditions are a challenge for the technology we use and for us in trying to make it all as green as possible. Our view is that ‘green’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘new’ – rather that you have to be inventive in maximising your efforts to make your existing equipment more sustainable and replacing it gradually, making smart choices along the way.

Make what you’re already using greener!

It’s important to us to get the most out of the technology we use, not just to replace something so that it would run on electricity. After a successful test period, we stopped buying in diesel made from fossil fuels in June, and by the end of the year at the latest we’ll be solely using Neste MY paraffin fuel produced from renewable sources within the airport boundaries

This new fuel will have to be used by all of the airport vehicles that operate outside of the airport grounds as well, starting from next year. This will help us reduce our annual carbon emissions from fuel by 90% or more, which is to say by 1,200 tonnes in total, or 3.3 tonnes of CO2 per day.

We’ll also be using this sustainable fuel in our generators.

In everything new we buy, we go for the greenest options

Wherever possible, we’ve already adopted or will shortly be adopting green technology. For example, at the start of the year we introduced electric cars for our ground staff to use for servicing aircrafts. These replaced the small cars we previously used, which consumed around 2,500 litres of fuel per car per year. This has reduced our annual carbon emissions into the air by more than 17,000kg. Also zooming through airport grounds now are electric scooters, which have been a big hit among staff and passengers alike. They’re helping to limit our use of four-wheeled vehicles, further reducing our CO2 emissions. Quite a few passengers have posted photos and videos of our workers zipping around on scooters on social media, adding that it’s something you’ll only see at the world’s cosiest airport. We also use green tech in servicing aircraft, whether it’s battery-powered ground power units (GPUs) or electric push-back.

To promote and simplify the electrification of technology, we’ve started building a charging network at the airport, with the charging points for the use of both staff and passengers. We’ve set ourselves the goal of there being no airport vehicles running on fossil fuels by January 2028.

The total area of the buildings at the airport is 93,563m², and it unavoidably takes a lot of energy to heat them all. But keeping rooms warm doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment. Up until November last year we used gas to heat our buildings, but the geopolitical situation and our wish to reduce the impact of our operations on nature drove us to look for more sustainable and dependable solutions. As such, we decided to switch from gas to district heating – two thirds of which is produced from renewable sources, including wood chippings. This transition will help us reduce our CO2 footprint from heating by almost 20%. To amplify the positive impact of district heating, our end goal is for the heating energy we use to be entirely generated from renewables. We’ll never eliminate the environmental impact of heating altogether, but it’s important to us to minimise it.

A net zero airport by 2030

Looking after the environment and operating sustainably have become integral parts of our everyday activities, and the realisation that we need to act now has forced us to reassess our actions and objectives. In early summer we cast a critical eye over our goals, making changes to them which now see us aiming to achieve a net zero airport five years earlier than originally planned. We’re delighted to announce that Tallinn Airport will be carbon neutral by 2025 and a net zero hub of air travel by 2030.

This will take a lot of work and smart decisions on our part and require the cooperation and involvement of our employees and partners. Our goal is to get our partners involved in both the planning and implementation phases, to which end we’ve already started mapping out our Scope 3 partners – the airport and its partners form a whole, and every member of staff and every company we work with shares our principles and values. It’s important that everyone at the airport, staff and passengers alike, does what they can to mitigate their own personal impact on the environment. For this it’s important that we raise awareness, too, which is why we’ve already established a platform we call ‘Green Mornings’ to share knowledge and best practice with our partners and to work with them to map out the areas in which the airport and they themselves can take steps for the benefit of the environment.

We get our partners involved from the very beginning of the procurement process – we consider it important that the products we’re supplied with and the services we’re offered have as limited of an impact on nature as possible. That’s why we are implementing environmental requirements as an inseparable part of procurements.

Tallinn Airport has repeatedly been named one of the best airports in the world not only for being so cosy and so quick to get around, but also for offering such good service. However, clients’ expectations are changing, with sustainability becoming increasingly important to them. If we want to remain competitive, continue to develop and maintain our reputation as an attractive employer with a worthy mission, we too must change – and that’s exactly what the airport is doing. These changes start in each and every one of our staff and passengers, the role of the airport being to offer them the kind of knowledge and infrastructure that supports the green transition.

Tallinn Airport’s goal is to ensure the sustainable and responsible operation of the airports belonging to the group and the provision of high-quality services, while preserving the natural environment and reducing emissions.

Read more at source :