British Airways Turns Its Focus to RFID

British Airways (BA) is putting its support behind the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) plans to implement smart tags to improve baggage handling and management.

Speaking over the weekend, BA chief executive said radio frequency identification (RFID) technology could help airlines deal with the problem of missing bags.

A spokesman for the airline says the company is interested in the technology, but will continue to observe trials taking place in other airports before committing to any rollout in the UK.

'The airline welcomes ongoing IATA discussions on the subject and will continue to monitor trials of the new tracking system,' said the spokesman.

'It is however vital that a single system is developed for all airlines and airports globally to reduce complexity and ensure success.'

IATA has set a goal of having five RFID trials in place in airports across the globe by the end of this year, and is currently working to establish a standard for the technology.

Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and chief executive, says the technology has the potential to achieve massive savings across the airline industry.

'RFID is the wave of the future. With full implementation we will improve baggage service and remove almost $760m in annual costs,' he said.

IATA says each lost bag costs airlines an average of 55 ? a noticeable cost when the Association of European Airlines notes that 1.08 million bags were lost in Europe in the first three months of this year.

RFID trials are currently taking place in Hong Kong Airport and Tokyo's Narita airport.