When the European Community regulation 1107/2006 came into full force in July 2008, airports within Europe were required to provide assistance to persons with reduced mobility (PRM) to enable them to make the same use of air transport as people who are not disabled.
Information technology can be an effective means by which such service provision can be optimized. Within its airport IT solutions, UFIS included specialized features to ensure that the support of PRM can be provided efficiently, from the perspectives of both the service provider and the recipient.
Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) was the first to contract with UFIS to provide this module to support their provision of services to persons with reduced mobility at Rome Fiumicino "Leonardo da Vinci" Airport. The new application enables handling agents at the airport to plan and dispatch staff for the PRM service using a Resource Management System (RMS). Since AdR was already using the UFIS RMS system, it was a natural extension for the PRM service. The module also provides the functions to gather status information on the services and to provide data for KPI measurement to ensure that the required service levels are met.
Athens International Airport (AIA) soon followed in contracting with UFIS for the new module. AIA, like AdR, was already using the UFIS RMS system. Hannover-Langenhagen Airport, Germany, is using the telex interpretation part of the module as part of its UFIS® installation. SATS Ltd (SATS), another UFIS RMS customer, began using the PRM module in October 2009 at Singapore's Changi Airport. This was the first airport outside of Europe to use the UFIS PRM module.
UFIS interprets the load or Passenger Assistance List (PAL) telexes to determine which flights need PRM support and how many passengers will require which form of support. This information should be provided at least 36 hours in advance at which time a close estimate of the staffing requirement can be made by the system. Also, flight and non-flight related requests for PRM support can also be sent by the passengers themselves (if the airline, travel agent or tour operator doesn’t offer the possibility to request such support) through, for example, the airport’s own website.
Using the information from the airlines and the passengers themselves, RMS will generate a staffing requirement based on the qualifications required to perform the necessary services. Based on where the service needs to be performed (this can be dependent on various parameters such as arrival or departure and/or the airline) the task can be assigned to a particular pool of staff situated at an appropriate location (e.g. airside and landside staff lounges). The system maintains a database on the various employees showing their availability and qualification with relevant contact details. In addition, the RMS is also used to schedule the equipment necessary to perform the different services.
Planning is the first part of the application. The second part is providing the actual service. During actual operation, the individual employees in the PRM service department will be informed of the tasks they need to carry out. This can be done in various ways depending on the infrastructure available, such as a web-based staff information terminal or via wireless communication with the employee’s PDA, mobile phone or trunk radio. Mobile applications are probably most beneficial as then the employee can also enter the status of the task (accepted, started (pickup), finished) which will make KPI and SLA evaluation and possible invoicing easier and more accurate. Furthermore, mobile devices may make more efficient use of staff by being able to reduce the distances that the employee needs to walk/drive between tasks.
Furthermore, web-based terminals or applications on info kiosks at defined locations both on and off the airport (terminal entrance, disabled parking areas, airline lounges, hotels, railway stations etc) can also be installed for passengers to enter ad-hoc service requests. These requests will be sent to the dispatcher who can then send the next available employee with suitable qualifications to the location where the request originated. Using the UFIS® Status Manager application, the dispatcher can monitor the progress of the services to ensure that the required level of service is provided.
AdR formed ADR Assistance to handle its PRM assistance. ADR Assistance employs 250 personnel, working in shifts of 60, to provide assistance to more than 600 passengers per day. In the peak summer season, this number increases to 800 per day. There are seven help points at Fiumicino. AdR operates both Rome airports -- Fiumicino and Ciampino, serving more than 40.8 million passengers to 210 destinations through 140 airlines.
The three ground handlers -- Olympic Handling, Swissport Hellas, and Goldair Handling -- provide the PRM services at AIA. They handle approximately 200 PRM requests during most of the year with as many as 450 requests during the peak travel season. Passengers totaling 16.2 million flew through Athens in 2009 on 210,147 flights. Sixty-seven airlines fly to 115 destinations in 51 countries from AIA.
SATS handles an average of 800 PRM requests in a day. SATS is the leading provider of integrated ground handling and in-flight catering services at Changi Airport. In FY 2009/10, they served 32.9 million passengers, handled 95,400 flights and 1.40 million tons of airfreight, and catered 23.5 million meals.