“Airlines are typically not very strong at information technology,” says Pascal Buchner, chief information officer of the International Air Transport Body (IATA), the world’s airline trade association. Anyone who has had their luggage lost or a trip delayed can attest to this. However, airlines are wagering that by investing more in technology, they will be able to rectify the situation. “We now know that data is the main source of performance for airlines,” Mr. Buchner says.

Data – and how all this information is processed – has quickly become one of the most significant variables in deciding how an airline functions well, from predictive maintenance, baggage handling, and cargo tracking to staff management and customer loyalty programs. “A passenger may interact with up to 10 different entities during a single trip, ranging from airlines, government, ground handlers, and at least two airports,” says Jacques Demael, senior vice president of strategy and business support at SITA, an aviation-focused global IT firm headquartered in Geneva.

Mr. Demael claims that the amount of data shared across the sector has “exploded” in recent years. While tourists may not realize it, data plays an important role in making a journey go smoothly, from communicating travel documents to tracking baggage flow between airports. The aviation sector has been devastated by the global pandemic. IATA, on the other hand, predicts that the industry will recover to 2019 levels in 2022, the same year that it is forecast to break even or profit. And, as a result of that recovery, massive volumes of data will be collected.