Global airlines and airports combined to spend $50 billion on IT last year to improve the passenger journey, a new report from information technology company SITA has found.

The report, SITA 2019 Air Transport IT Insights, notes airport IT spending grew to 6.06 percent of revenue in 2018, with projections for 2019 showing investments will continue to grow as a percentage of overall revenue.

That increased investment has paid off, the report found, with as many as 68 percent of airport chief information officers surveyed finding at least a 20 percent improvement in passenger satisfaction levels, while 44 percent reported quicker passenger processing time.

“The good news is that the growing investment in automating the passenger journey means the industry is providing a faster, more pleasant airport experience,” says Matthys Serfontein, SITA president, air travel solutions. “This is a real success story for automating the passenger journey, particularly at a time when we expect passenger numbers to double over the next 20 years, with physical airport infrastructure struggling to keep pace. Technology is key to alleviating the industry’s capacity crunch and avoiding negative impacts on passengers.”

SITA predicts that airports will increasingly provide more personalized information for passengers, including real-time bag tracking information and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven chatbot services. High on the agenda is biometric identity management, enabling airports of all sizes to better utilize existing resources to handle greater passenger flows.

“Most airports plan to invest in initiatives to process passengers without them having to present documents at every step of the journey,” the report notes. “The next few years will see biometrics move out of small scale experimentation and into the mainstream.”