After years of investment in airport upgrades, and even entirely new international airports, Airports Company SA (Acsa) is turning its spending priorities to technology to make its airports more efficient and extend their lifespan.
Acsa will spend R165m in the coming year on top of R187m spent last year. The new IT budget is more than double what it was in the 2008 financial year when Acsa put aside R80m for IT projects.
During a press conference at the company’s annual results presentation on Tuesday, Acsa MD Monhla Hlahla said the company was turning to IT projects to eke out a longer life from the newly renovated airports. The company has spent billions of rand on new and expanded infrastructure in the past few years, including a new airport north of Durban.
Until three years ago, Acsa had outsourced its IT services. However, it has been moving all its technology infrastructure and skills in-house.
Acsa’s annual report for the year ended 31 March 2010 says its dependence on external providers has been significantly decreased. However, there are still areas that need work.
The company has focused its capital on several big IT projects in the past two years. One of biggest is its data centre, which is based at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International airport, making it the centre of all Acsa’s IT operations.
According to the company’s annual report, Acsa also paid particular attention to real-time efficiency systems for tracking check-in and baggage handling. Legacy systems running these services will be integrated into what the company is calling an “enterprise services bus”.
“Running a network of 10 airports is probably the ultimate juggling act,” says Acsa. However, it says its focus on building these IT systems means that passengers and airlines will have increased access to self-service technologies.
Already, the company has set out check-in kiosks across its airports and says there will be other innovations for local travellers over the next few years.
Most of the technology projects started three years ago were completed in time for the World Cup. — Candice Jones, TechCentral
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