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Air France Contract to Bring RFID to 40 Million Baggage Tags Annually

French tag company Paragon ID has developed its first RFID baggage label as part of a three-year contract with Air France, to enable automated baggage tracking at Charles de Gaulle Airport by 2020.
By Claire Swedberg

Air France serves approximately 50 million passengers at the Paris airport alone, and its long-term goal is to automate the tracking and tracing of all passenger bags that pass through it. The airline predicts that the solution will reduce costs and improve operational performance.

For Paragon ID, Garvey says, "This is our first RFID baggage tag project to go live." In 2017, the company acquired ASK, which has expertise in inlays. Following baggage trolley tracking applications at airports, he notes, baggage tracking is the second of what Paragon ID expects to be many airline-specific applications for its RFID labels.

Clem Garvey
"We've been talking to a number of airlines," Garvey reports, especially those in the Sky Team Airline Alliance, about using the same labels. "The overall norms of the technology are specified in the IATA resolution," he adds, which means a universal label would be operable with all airlines.

The Paragon ID label has a reading distance of up to 10 meters (32.8 feet), Garvey says, and is designed to be intuitive for passengers to attach them to their bags and later remove. "It's important that those tags be disabled once the passenger's journey is complete," he adds. Therefore, the tag is designed to self-destruct once it is removed from a bag; the antenna tears and is no longer able to respond to an RF transmission.

Air France and other airlines have several priorities, Garvey says, the first of which are to reduce the number of bags that are lost and to improve customer satisfaction. In fact, IATA predicts that baggage losses can be reduced by 25 percent with the technology. Additionally, the ability to send messages about a bag's status to passengers is likely to encourage travelers to check their bags—which makes flights more efficient. The third priority for airlines is to ensure safety now and in the future, as they need, for instance, to be sure that an RFID baggage label is never retrieved by a bad actor and attached to another bag for another flight.

Garvey cites IATA predictions that there could be as many as 8 billion bags checked per year worldwide by 2025, based on flight rates. "We're very proud to have been selected by Air France," he says. "For us, it's a marriage of our knowledge and history in industrial label printing." The company's experience "provided us with the gray matter and skills to invent a better mouse trap," Garvey states.

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