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New Airport IT Development Could Ease Operational Challenges

A new development in airport IT could bring mobile functionality to key business, operational, and passenger processing systems.

Betros Wakim, the CEO of Air-Transport IT Services (AirIT), is proud to say that his firm is disruptive – breaking the rules in providing innovative airport business IT solutions.

He believes that to keep operational costs down and revenue-generating opportunities up, airports must optimise their existing terminal facilities, while accommodating their airline partners with flexible and capable technology.

Speaking to IHS Jane’s , Wakim said that Orlando, Florida-based AirIT has a varied portfolio of products that will eventually be pulled together to provide a new airport business intelligence platform.

While AirIT has focused on the North American market, the firm has already won some international projects and it sees more work on the horizon outside North America.

“When you go international, you go against the headwinds of existing suppliers,” said Wakim.

Today the AirIT product portfolio includes:

 Extended Airline System Environment (EASE) – allowing airlines to extend their applications onto the airport’s common-use infrastructure with air carriers running their own check-in and boarding software without modifications.

 Airport Operational Database (AODB) – an airport information centre with centralised airport information management system. It supplies specific information to various stakeholders at an airport.

 Flight Information Display System (FIDS) – AirIT’s intelligent display system includes flight information, gate and baggage data, advertising, and back office staff displays.

 Resource Management System (RMS) – relieves scheduling managers from time-consuming routine tasks and supplies all the needed information for rapid response and resolution of issues.

 PROPworks – AirIT’s property and revenue management solution, a comprehensive software application to manage the lease, property, and revenue information needed to operate airports.

 Virtual Airfield Management System (VAMS) – an airport safety system that simulates an out-of-the-window view for one or multiple geographically dispersed aprons, de-icing pads, and aircraft parking areas, and consolidates the various views into one operator display. The solution incorporates AirIT’s Aerial View Display (AVD) with Searidge Technologies’ IntelliDAR video system.

In May 2013, AirIT unveiled Airport Intelligence Solution (AIS) to deliver business-optimised data analysis extracted from AirIT’s existing operational, business and passenger-facing technology solutions. It will provide enterprise data management and integrate critical business intelligence into every aspect of an airport’s operation. AIS will do this by harvesting data from the many disparate technology systems present at the airport and applying business analytics to the data to allow for better decision-making.

Miami International Airport, which has adopted many AirIT products over the past decade, added EASE last year and as the launch customer will go live with the Airport Intelligence Solution in the first quarter of 2015, said Wakim.

In May 2014, the company launched an initiative for complete mobile functionality for its airport property and revenue management, operational, and passenger processing software solutions.

Wakim said, “Bringing mobile functionality to key business, operational, and passenger processing systems will be revolutionary in terms of increased efficiency and productivity.” He added that airport and airline personnel will be able to utilise personal devices to access information in real-time and transmit data. In this way, an airport will become more flexible in allocating personnel and manage resources.

“We have comprehensive products that cover both the air and land sides. The question is how can we provide more value on the mobile side and the business intelligence side?” Wakim noted. “Business intelligence requires data and you need the right systems and methods to collect that data.

“Today we have products that have tools that issue business intelligence. Where we are going is towards a platform. We will put all of our products together to get consolidated data. We will then run business intelligence on top of that data. Today we’re doing that in segments, but not as a platform.”

Chris Keller, AirIT president and chief operating officer, told IHS Jane’s that “because of our success in North America, we have created interest worldwide. Currently, there are international opportunities we are working on.”

AirIT systems are already operating in Mexico, where operator ASUR is managing the flight information displays at all its nine Mexican airports through its own headquarters’ IT department at Cancun International via content management systems from AirIT. The company also provided its EASE, AODB, RMS and FIDS technology to Luis Munoz Marin International in Puerto Rico, and Keller hopes to install PROPworks there since it is already operated by Aerostar Airport Holdings. The airport could then join Miami International Airport as an AIS site.

Early in 2014, Oakland International selected the EASE shared-use system to replace the airport’s existing ARINC iMUSE common use system. EASE will support the processing of passengers for 10 airlines. Wakim said, “The fact that all airline carriers at Oakland preferred the EASE solution over the competition is another testament to the value of AirIT’s virtualized technology delivery.”

Previously, Mineta San Jose International turned to AirIT as part of its IT modernisation project. Airport officials held meetings with its airlines about moving to a shared-use system before AirIT deployed its EASE there. Other AirIT systems in operation at SJC include AODB, RMS, FIDS, ADS, and PROPworks. Keller said the San Jose contract was “a huge deal for us. It was key to getting EASE acceptance by the air carriers”.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF AIRIT

AirIT was created in 2001 by a joint venture between Germany-based Fraport and T-Systems, the German global IT services and consulting company, to establish a US airport market for their products. T-Systems bowed out in 2002, at about the time Fraport decided to acquire Orlando-based Decision Support Technologies (DST), which provided back office property and revenue management at 70 US airports.

Profitable since 2004, AirIT solutions are today operational in 30 of the top 50 airports in North America and company solutions are present in another 100 airports and with 60 airlines worldwide. The firm has grown from the two original staff to about 100 workers at Orlando and nine support offices spread across the US and in Winnipeg, Canada.

Wakim is growing AirIT. “Our strategy is for organic growth supplemented by complementary acquisitions, and we are talking to another [unnamed] company. We are now looking at how best to leverage airport-to-airport connectivity. The company we are looking to acquire will allow us to interconnect airports.”