The airport industry's IT-based systems and services grow increasingly complex--literally by the week. Keeping those systems functioning at peak levels, while at the same time simplifying their use for passengers, presents an enormous challenge.
Add in the fact that airports are always striving to make the most efficient, cost-effective use of their terminal real estate as well as other resources, and you have a situation that demands new approaches.
Part of the solution comes from adept implementation of common-use IT systems that support multiple airlines. Common-use passenger processing systems enable airports to streamline and simplify their passengers' travel experience, from check-in to baggage pick-up.
The rest of the solution, however, most likely lies in implementing imaginative, innovative solutions in an area virtually invisible topassengers, but absolutely critical to the core functioning of any airport: operational maintenance services and support. It appears airports must start thinking about these routine, everyday services in entirely new ways, and particularly about the viability of outsourcing them.
A good example of the future shape of outsourced service support was set in motion in early 2005 in Vancouver, British Columbia, in a highly productive and cost-saving partnership between YVR and ARINC Managed Services (AMS), the operations, maintenance and staffing subsidiary of ARINC. Vancouver is recognised as one of the world's leading airports in the implementation of new technology and for the quality of its customer service.
"We just launched a network of remote check-in kiosks downtown in hotel lobbies, tourism offices and at the convention centre," says Milan Zivkovic, the airport's Director of IT. "This expanded our services far beyond the systems already at the airport--namely self-serviceticket kiosks, automated check-in and boarding, baggage handling, flight information displays. Everything was integrated, we had thousands of devices on the network, and we needed to significantly augment our existing in-house IT support and maintenance capabilities." Vancouver also has two unique passenger-handling systems and a hold-bag screening capability.
"We had to focus our efforts on the airport experience programme currently underway at the airport, while the expanded infrastructure required 24x7 support," added Zivkovic. We decided it was wisest to integrate our IT operations and maintenance under a single unified support solution."
Vancouver already had the right operations and maintenance services provider for the job--AMS, which has been supporting its common-usepassenger systems since 2002. These systems included ARINC's Multi-User System Environment (iMUSE[R]), and ARINC SelfServ[TM] passenger kiosks, which use the Common-Use Self-Service (CUSS) standard to allowpassengers to check in with many airlines at a single station.
AMS provides full operational and maintenance support for IT systems engineered by different companies around the world. It also supported Vancouver's unique cruise ship system, allowing passengers to check themselves and their baggage for flights at YVR while still aboardship, as well as the airport's baggage reconciliation system, which will match passengers with the bags they've checked in before they board their flights.
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Vancouver Airport Authority signed a five-year contract to renew its Common Use Passenger Processing Systems (CUPPS) technology at Vancouver International Airport.
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