Kilimanjaro International Airport is one of East Africa’s busiest. It’s the entry point for thousands of visitors to Tanzania’s famous national parks, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro, and to the highest mountain in Africa, “Kilimanjaro.”
To increase efficiency, the airport management is installing a new system called CUTE, or Common Use Terminal Equipment. It’s expected to facilitate passenger processing, such as check-in, using the World Wide Web.
Voice of America English to Africa reporter Asumpta Ngonyani in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, tells us the upgrade of Kilimanjaro International airport into a world-class entry point to Tanzania and to East Africa as a whole will include improved passenger service.
Captain Philemon Kisamo, managing director of Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company, describes the new technology, called CUTE:
“The Common Use Terminal Equipment is a passenger processing system which enables airlines or people wanting to access airline inventory systems, like from their computer system at home, to be able to get the information to the desktop at the airport. It allows them to be able to see the passengers who are booked with that particular airline at this particular airport.”
Kisamo says CUTE computer technology allows airport staff and handling agents to see the names of people booked. It can help coordinate check-in and boarding across scores of workstations, departure and arrival gates, and terminals. Automated ticket and boarding help speed up check-in.
The system also allows airport staff to share counters, computers, displays, boarding pass printers, bag tag printers and boarding pass readers.
CUTE, with all its information on passengers and flights, allows airlines to switch terminals with ease, rather than having to maintain a permanent location.
“Instead of installing [an airline counter for each airline] at the airport, we install a system which enables [airport staff] to access all the airlines systems...from any of the desks where you are working from. So it saves the airport money by being able to utilize the space.” Captain Kisamo says.
He also explains how the system benefits the passenger: “A person can not buy a ticket on a CUTE system but it enables the check-in system, so a person can be checked in using the CUTE system. Also, it enables self check-in, whereby a person checks himself into a flight at the airport.”
The captain says the system works like ATMs, the electronic banking machines, which require a personal identity card. He says passengers will go to an electronic terminal, whose screen will ask them to identify themselves with a ticket number or a certain code. Within seconds, the customer will be given a boarding pass with the proper seat number. From there, the customer goes to the waiting room until the flight begins boarding.
This process will take a passenger about five minutes instead the much longer time often spent waiting in a line for a boarding pass. The system is expected to reduce crowding at check-in counters and boarding gates.
Airport employees will take a short course on how to use the system. Captain Kisamo says no staff members are expected to lose their jobs because of the new technology, and in fact it’s expected to help them work more efficiently and facilitate their reassignment to other tasks.
Captain Kisamo says the system may also lower costs for the airline and the passenger, since passengers will no longer be charged for checking in,
“When the cost for the airlines go down, it benefits the passenger, because when passengers are being processed, checked in, that is a cost and this cost is passed to the passenger when this cost comes down then the passenger will benefit from it.”
The system is already being installed, and when it is operational, Kilimanjaro International Airport will be the fifth African airport to use it. The others are in Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia.