Half of the world's top airlines are spending more this year on IT and telecoms, according to the annual SITA/Airline Business Airline IT Trends Survey.
Airlines said they would be spending more on areas such as mobile transaction systems, support for commercial social networking efforts, virtualisation technology and cloud computing. The total airline IT and telecoms spend predicted for 2011 is $20 billion (£12.5 billion).
Every year the survey questions senior IT personnel from the world's top 200 airlines, and this year it was found there would be a 1.8 per cent growth in IT and telecoms expenditure.
"This represents a significant increase in actual expenditure following a return to profitability in the last 12 months after two years of recession," said SITA.
Compared with 2010, 50 percent of airlines reported an increase in total spend, while 32 percent said there was no change, and 18 percent revealed there would be a decrease. The outlook for 2012 is also positive, with 54 percent of survey respondents expecting budgets to increase.
The survey found that 91 percent of airlines plan to invest in passenger mobile services and 93 percent are prioritising virtualisation technology.
Paul Coby, Chair of the SITA board and ex-chief information officer at British Airways, said, “I see IT spend as the barometer of overall air transport industry confidence. Passenger numbers and revenues are picking up, so we are seeing airlines focus precious investment funds on the areas that really make a strategic difference – like IT.
"Virtualisation and cloud computing are going to be critical for both IT efficiency and managing cost."
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