Bitcoin cryptocurrency and its underlying technology—blockchain—have captured the imagination of investors, financial institutions, and technology solution providers. Blockchain’s simplicity and elegance lends itself to many business-to-business markets, and aviation is no exception. In essence, blockchain is a secure and robust ledger of business transactions. And yet, its simplicity has become a disruptive innovation because it can both optimize and reduce the cost of many types of transactions by eliminating the middlemen in distribution channels (e.g., banks, credit card companies, freight forwarders and, especially, information aggregators).
Information systems built on blockchain technology can be used by members of an airport ecosystem from their air carriers, ground handlers, concessionaires, and security providers in both large and small airports. Today airport mission critical and business processes often rely on proprietary, sole sourced solutions based on 1990s information exchange technology. Blockchain’s ingrained security features coupled with its distributed processing capabilities lead to increased operational performance, reduced costs, improved workflow management, added data privacy and strong auditing capabilities.
Airports have been hearing about blockchain and have questions about its applicability to their operations. Examples of airport information systems that may leverage blockchain technology include flight information and airport resource management, baggage handling and tracking, airport inspections, and reporting of both landing fees and concession point of sale activity. Unfortunately, the blockchain industry does not currently have any airport-specific guidance available.
The object of this research is to develop a primer to introduce airports to blockchain technology, describe potential use cases, and offer guidance to incorporating blockchain into airport operations.