Friday, April 9, 2010

Air India Closer To Star Entry With $190 Million Sita Contract

Travel/Distribution Systems

Aviation Daily Apr 09 , 2010 , p. 10
Neelam Mathews

The National Aviation Company of India (NACIL), parent company of Air India, awarded a $190 million contract over 10 years to IT specialist Sita to provide its hosted Horizon Passenger Services System (PSS) on a turnkey basis.

The contract, which stipulates setting up a single airline code for Indian Airlines and Air India in 300 days, will help the carrier enter the Star Alliance as a full-time member. This moves the approximate timeline for Air India's Star membership to beyond April 2011, compared with the first deadline of March 2009, which was extended to the end of 2010.

"Implementation of the Passenger Services System will complete the merger of Air India with former domestic carrier Indian Airlines and enable us to align processes and systems to meet Star Alliance standards," said Arvind Jadhav, NACIL chairman and managing director.

In addition to the core PSS suite, Sita will implement an online booking engine, departure control system, check-in and automated boarding control, baggage reconciliation system and a frequent flyer program.

"The aggressive timeline will pose a big challenge. It's like a heart-transplant scenario. It is an ambitious project, but is doable," Maneesh Jaikrishna, Sita director-South Asia, told The DAILY.

The two airlines currently run on two different systems — Speedwing for Indian Airlines and Unisys for Air India — which will need to be integrated for a seamless migration to proceed.

"The task is to deliver without being distracted by other elements of the turnaround of Air India and keep our team focused on the job [of achieving a single airline code], added Damian Hickey, Sita regional VP-South Asia and India.

Once the minimum level is achieved, Hickey said work would proceed quickly taking advantage of best practices on the customer side, with Sita looking at introducing customer management tools to help Air India gain an edge over its competition.

Sita has been a supplier to Air India for more than 50 years, having provided network connectivity at all domestic and international stations, check-in, air-to-ground communications, fare management and baggage tracing.

Sita's competitor for the bid was Amadeus, which recently cited technical shortcomings of rival Sita and asked for a rebid.

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