Ground Handling news
A common use platform in the cloud… From myth to reality! What benefits for ground handlers? What new opportunities?
Since its launch last year, airports worldwide have shown keen interest in Amadeus' cloud based Airport Common Use Service (ACUS). After its first implementation in Innsbruck, last February, four other airports have adopted the solution and the pipeline is rapidly growing.
Innsbruk: first complete cloud-based common use environment in an airport.
Whereas previous common use solutions ran off local servers, Amadeus' next generation Common Use platform allows Innsbruck's airlines and ground handling firms to leverage application virtualisation and cloud technology to access passenger processing systems.
"We are committed to optimising airport operations and the overall experience for passengers, and are delighted to be working with Amadeus to make this a reality.
Sharing IT resources and using cloud technology will also free up revenue and physical space to be able to develop our commercial offerings for passengers."
Director Airport Operations & Head of IT, Innsbruck Airport
What impact on ground handling daily activities? What benefits?
"With ACUS it has become easy to access different applications and to switch from one to the other. This can be done rapidly and applies not just to the main DCS applications, but to the smaller ones as well (such as eRes) and to non-DCS applications like BRS. We also appreciate the fact that you can work from any ACUS workstation and configure access according to the needs of the different roles within our organisation."
Passenger Services Director Innsbruck Airport
Let's say you're a ground handler in an ACUS airport environment…
To begin with, you'll find that deploying and accessing passenger applications can be quick and easy and that there's no need to be at a fixed desk. With ACUS, you can have access to critical passenger applications from anywhere in the airport, and off-airport as well in a matter of minutes. All it takes is a PC, laptop or tablet, and a simple IP network connection (such as Wi-Fi, 3G,4G..) What does this bring you?
Your services can be delivered in mobile mode: Instead of passengers going to you, you can go to passengers, avoiding long lines and speeding up the overall the process. This mobility goes beyond the airport as you can access critical passenger processing applications from anywhere, even off-airport. This is great news considering the space limitations in terminals. For instance, in case of disruptions or big peaks, you can reduce airport congestion by handling tasks from another location, using a mobile device with multiple DCSs on it. The airport experience will be less stressful for the passengers, which in turn will have a positive impact on the airline's image.
You'll gain in agility and flexibility, with a new capacity to quickly adapt to demands from customers. You will also find it easier to respond to unplanned requests for services from new airlines: With ACUS, it is simple to integrate a new airline and have it be accessible across multiple airports.
ACUS brings a new independence. As you now have the freedom of choice for common use this should help control your costs.
Last but not least, ACUS paves the way for new opportunities: Since you can handle tasks off-airport, why not propose differentiated services to airlines and their passengers, such as checking in from the hotel? You could also consider extending your services beyond airport activities and start offering passenger processing services to new customers, such as cruises or hotels.
Want to know more? Please watch our video or download our sales sheet
3 questions to Christophe Ho-Van, Head of Airport Management Solutions Airport IT - Product Management
Christophe has been listening to all airport stakeholders, including ground handlers, and closely monitoring Amadeus airport management offer to meet customers' needs.
What can we expect to see in 2015?
Today, with 87 ground handlers, 120+ airline customers, and a presence in 1122 airports, Amadeus Airport IT represents a large scale, global community. This year should be a very exciting one as our Amadeus Airport IT community comes into full force. Ground handlers should reap the benefits, not just in terms of operational efficiency, but it should help them strengthen their role as the airline's privileged partner: With a full visibility, they will be able to provide a whole new range of added value services to both airlines and passengers, positioning themselves at each step of the trip life cycle to cater to the traveller's needs.
And this is just the beginning… This information sharing will start by enhancing operations within each airport, and then progressively transform the way airports operate together at worldwide level.
3 questions to Christophe Ho-Van,
Head of Airport Management Solutions Airport IT - Product Management Amadeus
In your opinion, what's the biggest pain point for ground handlers today?
Ground handlers are providing mission critical ground services that require precise resource planning to deliver a high level of service. Yet, quite often, they aren't aware of flight schedule updates until very late in the process and lack the visibility to plan their operations in the most efficient manner. Any new schedule change represents heavy manual work and increases difficulties in delivering their services.
How is Amadeus addressing this?
With our Airport Management Solution (AMS) suite, we've set out to provide ground handlers with the visibility they need. Our goal is to help them deliver the best service possible while reducing their integration costs and protecting revenue. The ‘brain' of this offering is the Amadeus AODB, plugged into our Altéa Ground Handlers solution and fully synchronised with it. This integration with Altéa also benefits the rest of the AMS platform, allowing ground handlers to optimise resource allocations through the Resource Management Solution (RMS) module, and adequately bill all services provided to their customers.
Product Focus: AODB
Amadeus AODB - bringing light to your flight
Amadeus customers who've opted for our Altéa solution for ground handlers can now rely on Amadeus AODB to gain a full visibility on their overall flight scheduling.
Billing inaccuracies -and the resulting revenue leakage - are commonplace when charge-related data is fed from many different sources within the airport ecosystem. Amadeus AODB captures billing information and holds it centrally, for use with other products such as Amadeus Airport Contract & Billing.
Saving costs in the cloud
Amadeus AODB can be hosted directly in the cloud or alternatively in your customer's data centre, minimising integration efforts and maintenance costs. Altéa integration brings a further benefit, removing the cost and reliance on third party messaging systems to transmit and process information via the AODB, and improves collaboration amongst Altéa partners.
For more, please watch our video or download our sales sheet.
Amadeus customers who have opted for our Altéa solution for ground handlers can now rely on Amadeus AODB to gain a full visibility on their overall flight schedules. What makes this solution unique is our worldwide presence which covers 95% of the world's flights, representing 750 million passengers throughout airports worldwide. Not only do we know what's happening in nearly all airports around the globe, but our vision spans 365 days per year!
Plan ahead with unique visibility
No more approximations on how full the flight is, how many passengers are in transit etc. With our AODB, we are putting accurate, real time data at your fingertips, enabling you to prepare operations and determine how to best use your resources. What's more, the fully automated process eliminates time consuming manual tasks, and the errors that can result from them.
Improve on-time performance
Beyond flight data, our AODB provides all elements on the complete flight turn-around cycle (arrival-ground-departure), automatically compiling the information from all different sources -from Telex messages, Altéa Departure Control, AFTN - EUROCONTROL and other third party systems. This level of data accuracy helps you boost performance, resulting in a better slot adherence and increased punctuality. Also, when you're dispatching your services in a number of airports it can be hard to have a centralised view of ongoing operations. Our solution addresses this with a multi-station view, which shows individual and consolidated information for all your managed stations.
Amadeus boosts its Airport IT offer with the acquisition of UFIS Airport Solutions
Last February 2014, Amadeus further enhanced its position within the airport IT industry with the acquisition of UFIS Airport Solutions, a leading airport information technology player.
"This strategic acquisition accelerates our move into the airport IT industry, confirming Amadeus as a key provider in this space, and emphasizing our commitment to this sector,"
said John Jarrell, Head of Airport IT, Amadeus.
"There are numerous synergies between the two companies including very strong management and development teams in addition to innovation and customer focus. Together, we are well positioned to shape the future of travel for the airport industry which today stands at a business model crossroads, evolving more and more to become business-oriented service providers with passengers as their top priority."
With the majority of its employees based in Singapore, UFIS Airport Solutions has been providing integrated solutions for single, multi-terminal and multi-airport operations for more than two decades. The company has developed a range of technology solutions for airports including its branded Universal Flight Information System. Today, UFIS has some 30 airport customers dotted around the globe, including Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok, Delhi, Rome, Abu Dhabi, Bangalore, Warsaw, Athens and London.
UFIS' products and services offerings are complementary to Amadeus' Airport IT product set, bringing specific expertise in the areas of Airport Operational Databases, Resource Management Systems, Flight Information Display Systems, Collaborative Decision Making tools and Hub Management solutions. Furthermore, this industry leader has made its mark enabling its customers to carry out collaborative airport management, an approach that perfectly fits Amadeus' Airport IT strategy.
Taking common use to the cloud
- a new Amadeus solution
Leveraging cloud technology to deliver application virtualisation, Amadeus Airport Common Use Service (ACUS) brings greater business agility, operational resilience, scalability and flexibility to make passenger processing more efficient than ever before.
"We see a huge potential with ACUS, which stands out from other common use solutions through its agility and simplicity. It should enable substantial improvement in terms of efficiency, cost of ownership and ease of deployment for all stakeholders involved, ground handlers included."
Head of Airport IT Business Development
"We believe that the movement of services to the cloud is inevitable. With ACUS we have developed the first of what we believe will be many airport-utility platforms that bring operational agility, scalable capacity and resilience to core airport processes."
Head Product Management (Infrastructure)
More agility, flexibility, scalability
With ACUS, only one connection is required between airport stakeholders and the cloud. Through this secure network connection, airports, airlines and ground handlers can deploy and access operationally critical passenger applications safely and rapidly anywhere - from one airport to multiple airports and even to off-airport terminals.
For ground handlers this gives them the ability to handle passenger processing for a number of airlines, from any work station, gate or terminal, using only a secure network connection, and with multiple devices including thin clients, laptops or tablets.
More resilience for handling the unforeseen
Passenger processing in the cloud provides more resiliency and flexibility so that airports can continue to deliver services and process passengers, even if disruptions occur to the airport infrastructure. For example, during adverse weather conditions (including local flooding or water inundation of terminals), airports may need to increase terminal capacity at check-in or move facilities to another location. By putting ad-hoc or mobile workstations in place, operations can be quickly resumed. In this way, ACUS helps airports respond to the unforeseen.
The ACUS common use platform also helps achieve cost savings by eliminating the need for expensive on-site servers and maintenance. Additionally, a shared platform is attractive from the perspective of human resource management, making it easier and quicker to train staff.
Because of its small IT footprint and simpler network connectivity (enabling the use 3G/4G communications) ACUS can be rapidly deployed to airports of any size with minimal operational disruption.
In their words…
4 questions to Lee Siew Kit,
Vice President, IT Services, SATS Ltd.
You've also had a long standing partnership with UFIS Airport Solutions. Can you tell us about it?
SATS first deployed UFIS as its resource management system and AODB in 2002, selecting them through a tender exercise. UFIS was selected because it offered rich functionality, able to handle a high volume of aircraft movements, deployed in many airports. Today, SATS uses a wide range of UFIS modules* and has also worked with them to implement a mobile extension for staff on the go, called iTrek. *UFIS modules used by SATS: Airport Operational Database (AODB), Basic Data Processing System, Flight Information Processing System (FIPS), Resource Management System (RMS) with interface to SATS SAP and Time and Attendance Systems for payroll, Hub Manager, Status Manager, Telex Processing Client, Special Service Management, etc.
With Amadeus acquisition of UFIS, are you looking forward to having an integral offer?
Yes! We wish to see a total airport ground handling solution, encompassing planning and monitoring of resource deployment, as well as planning and proactive monitoring of operations and key events for flights handled, to ensure that the committed Service Level Agreement (SLA) are met. This integral offer should facilitate ground handlers' overall operations including departure control, weight and balance, baggage reconciliation, fleet management, contract management and billing, etc.
SATS is Asia's leading provider of food solutions and gateway services, with a presence in 44 airports in 12 countries across Asia. SATS serves more than 51 airlines out of Singapore Changi Airport.
As the first Amadeus' customer for ground handling solutions in Asia, SATS has been operating Amadeus Altéa Ground Handler Departure Control and weight and balance system since early 2013.
4 questions to Lee Siew Kit,
Vice President, IT Services, SATS Ltd
What were the key reasons that motivated SATS to implement Amadeus Altéa Ground Handler Departure Control?
With many airlines using Altéa, it was simply easier for SATS to be operating with the same system, especially in terms of the learning curve it represented and the cross deployment of staff. As a solution, Altéa offers rich functionality and an easy to use User Interface. The fact that it is cloud-based means there is no need to invest in a server infrastructure and data center to host the solution. Easily scalable, the system can be activated for new airlines within a short period of time.
What are the most tangible improvements you've seen with Altéa in terms of daily operations?
We've been able to substantially reduce the time it takes to train our staff on the new DCS. It is also easier to deploy staff to service airlines operating on the same DCS.
Amadeus Airport Distribution, a new solution to drive more non-aeronautical revenues
With increasing pressure on aeronautical revenues, airports and ground handlers are reorienting themselves more and more towards new, non-aeronautical revenue sources.
What if your services could be purchased at the same time as flight and a hotel booking? What if you knew who was travelling through your airport today, tomorrow, next week? And what if you could target them with highly contextualised offers?
With its new Airport Distribution solution, Amadeus has set out to help airports and ground handlers transform themselves into customer oriented service providers - fully integrated in the travel booking process -, and targeting especially (but not exclusively) travellers with the most purchasing power, i.e. the business traveller on the move.
Amadeus Airport Distribution was built specifically for airports, and their partners, to sell services and products, both directly and indirectly. This considerably expands their sales reach beyond in-airport only, offering opportunities within the full, end-to-end travel process.
Amadeus Airport Indirect Distribution gathers all bookable airport content - parking, lounges, fast-track security, … and distributes this to travel agencies and business customers. With millions of corporate travellers and thousands of agencies using Amadeus, the scope for new sales is huge.
"Selling through Amadeus is a highly effective way of increasing passenger spend, meeting customer expectations, and driving more non-aeronautical revenues", notes Stephan Hirmer, Head of Passenger Systems, "For ground handlers in particular, their services - such as lounge access, door to door baggage services, short connections services… - can now be proposed and purchased early on in the travel process, e.g. at flight booking time. Their offer may become an integral part of the travel chain, recorded in the passenger's PNR along with other travel arrangements. What's more, this solution gives airports and ground handlers access to Amadeus' high value corporate customers, seeking to ease their journey and with the means to purchase premium services."
As a 2nd part of the Amadeus Airport Distribution solution, Amadeus Airport Direct Distribution was designed to enable airports to learn about their passengers, and to communicate with them in a targeted, contextualised manner. Integrated into the airport's websites, mobile applications and social platforms such as Facebook, the solution allows them to propose goods and services tailored to the passenger's profile, and within the right context and at the right time.
Big data is the buzz word
Travel related information represents only a small portion of the mass of unstructured data generated by internet, social media, mobile users, etc. which has come to be known as Big Data. This high volume, high variety of information can serve to create substantial economic value and help with operations, decision making, risk management and customer service.
Amadeus global business intelligence strategy
The essence of business intelligence is to be able to provide detailed analysis by crossing data. Our joint strengths as GDS leader - with the millions of bookings processed in our systems -, and as IT provider - with the information handled within Altéa departure control systems - put us in a unique position to make our mark in this field.
In 2013, Amadeus launched a global business intelligence strategy, putting in place the expertise, technology and infrastructure to deploy a range of analytics tools that will help customers improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and increase revenues.
Stay tuned for more on this topic in an upcoming issue of this newsletter…
Did you know that…
More data is sent via internet every second than was stored in the entire internet just 20 years ago!
What makes big data such a powerful idea for the travel industry?
Big Data can provide insights that will help deliver a more intelligent travel experience than has ever been possible before. Whereas structured data has historically been divided between different silos, be they systems or companies, harnessing both unstructured and structured data promises a more integrated view of our industry. This offers travel companies the opportunity to enhance current industry processes, push innovation and fine-tune their customer relations. With a better understanding of travellers' needs and preferences, they will be able to propose a more personalised approach that will help improve the passenger experience.
At the Big Data Crossroads
This potential was brought to light in the Amadeus white paper published last June 2013 and entitled: 'At the Big Data Crossroads: Turning towards a smarter travel experience', a Visiting Professor at Harvard Business School, the goal of this study is to stimulate industry discussion and investigation on how Big Data is set to transform travel in the coming years.
In Their Words
Hamburg-based AHS Aviation Handling Services GmbH is the largest ground handling agent in Germany, servicing more than 130 airlines in 14 German airports. AHS recently adopted Amadeus Altéa Ground Handler Departure Control as their new in-house system.
What benefits have you seen from Altéa Ground Handler DCS?
MORE EFFICIENT: The check-in processes and operational processes are both far more efficient and effective with Altéa and therefore we are able to provide an improved service to the passenger. For example, it's now very difficult to make errors and there are virtually no instances of say, sending a passenger towards the wrong gate. In the past this did occur occasionally with other legacy DCSs. It's also far more efficient for our load controllers; if, for instance, there is an ‘out of trim' situation, Altéa flags this with different colours and automates the full recalculation. Load plans are much quicker to create, and though it's still early days, we can already see significant improvement from other systems.
FUTURE PROOF: The ground-handling world is changing very quickly; Amadeus Altéa DCS is a young system and Amadeus, as a company, is in a position to move with the times and face new challenges. We are constantly keen to be able to reduce the chargeable hours for our airline customers, so efficiency and time savings with Altéa are essential.
SIMBLE BAG DROP PROCESS: With Altéa all our agents need to do is scan a barcode and there is absolutely no interaction needed by the check-in agent, it's all automated and a label is printed. All that's required is to attach the tag to the bag.
POST-SALES SUPPORT: Despite the company's size Amadeus has been extremely supportive and responsive. For example, we had weekly slots to discuss the migration plans and if we requested any enhancements to the system these were made extremely quickly. We were able to think of and suggest innovations in a very collaborative way and Amadeus was happy to work to deliver them.
Q&A with Amelie Charisius, Managing Director, AHS Aviation Handling Services GmbH.
Why did you select Amadeus Altéa Ground Handler DCS?
Altéa Ground Handlers DCS is the world's leading system right now and is used extensively by many of our airline customers, so for us it made perfect sense. Also the system is able to respond to the large variety of airlines we handle. We have many airlines using Altéa themselves and now, with the ground handler version of Altéa, we can switch directly between those airlines without signing out and back in, it's much more efficient.
A word about the migration?
It’s currently in progress and we began the task in April 2013 in Brehmen, with a phased migration planned. We are migrating airport by airport, and we have a team of IT colleagues focused on the migration. Overall, 190 airlines will need to be migrated to the Altéa system in total, all of which we handle to some extent.
Has it been easier to train employees on the Altéa system?
Our employees have been using our former in-house system Codeco for nearly 20 years so they could use it blindfolded, but for our younger or newer staff they like the graphical interface of Altéa. Overall, it’s much easier and quicker to train people to use Altéa than any other DCS. Codeco took around five days to train someone, whereas with Altéa, it’s about two days. On the operational side you can now have someone up and running, and able to create a simple loadsheet, in under three hours. The system is really state-of-the-art and is perfect for people from the web generation who use this type of drag and drop technology every day.
What do you expect the future DCS landscape to look like?
We expect far more airlines will migrate to Amadeus, for example Lufthansa is cutting over in the near future. We assume at some stage soon there will likely only be two or three DCS systems and Amadeus will be the largest.