Tech Bytes

There has been good news among technology vendors in recent weeks, and much of it involves the ideas of outsourcing and centralized management. As airports and airlines look to reduce costs and remain competitive, the service sector is stepping up to offer solutions that will allow airports and airlines to operate more efficiently their core businesses.

At a press conference held on the show floor at the 78th Annual American Association of Airport Executives Conference and Exposition in April (see page 22 for more), ARINC, a provider of transportation communications and systems engineering, announced the formation of ARINC Managed Services (AMS). The new division will offer comprehensive service-level contracts covering IT services for airports to include integrated systems support, operations, maintenance support, and technical staffing.

According to representatives, handling more than one service agreement for a complex IT system can be a drain on an airport’s IT department, both in time and resources. AMS was recently awarded contracts at Vancouver International and Dallas/Fort Worth International.

Also at AAAE, SITA, a provider of IT solutions to airports, unveiled its Airport Management Solutions package which integrates critical airport applications, network, hardware, and support into turnkey solutions, anchored by a centralized database. The system was previously known ‘Airport in a Box’ and officials say the new name now reflects the expanded product offering being used by some 40 customers and more than 100 million passengers worldwide.

Airport Management Solutions is comprised of four main components, which can be used standalone or partially or fully integrated: AirportCentral; AirportHandling Manager; AirportResource Manager; and AirportVision. The newest component to the product suite, AirportHandling Manager, is designed to help airports manage their mobile ground resources from the planning level down to operational management, including scheduling staff and equipment.

SITA also recently announced that it’s taking over the IT and communications management at London City Airport, as the airport gears up to meet growing demand from the City of London and takes steps to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games. The outsourcing contract is for seven years and London City Airport is transferring its IT staff to SITA.

Unisys, a technology services and solutions company, announces it has signed a multi-million dollar contract with Cathay Pacific Airways to host the airline’s core business applications. The contract is for three years, with an option to extend for another two. Unisys will move Cathay’s reservations, departure control, and cargo platforms to the Unisys data center in Rhodes, just west of Sydney. According to Unisys officials, the contract encompasses Unisys hosting of the airline’s passenger reservations, departure control and cargo management systems. Unisys has been providing these services as a subcontractor for nine years, and the new contract includes new services, including management of middleware applications and the migration from legacy communications handlers to a Unisys Online Message Switching Engine.

Unisys Corporation also announces that Air China has chosen the Unisys Logistics Management System (LMS) to manage its air cargo operations. Under a five-year agreement, Unisys will also be providing hosting and integration services and will be working closely with Air China on the customization of services for the Chinese domestic marketplace, as well as the implementation and cut-over expected in March 2007. Unisys LMS is an end-to-end solution that integrates several facets of freight processing for carriers, ground-handlers, and freight forwarders.