Thursday, June 10, 2010

Air India On Track To Join Star Alliance

AWIN First Jun 09 , 2010
Neelam Mathews

IT provider SITA is on track to complete the IT integration of merged carriers Air India and Indian Airlines in time for Air India to meet its stated March 2011 deadline to join the Star Alliance.

Arvind Jadhav, Air India chairman and managing director, told AviationWeek in May that there would be no more delays. “Information technology integration has been a major challenge. Star has over 80 requirements, most of which have been fulfilled,” said Jadhav.

The first deadline to join the alliance was March 2009.

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

“A project like this depends on deliverables and getting information requested to support timelines and effort. The main challenge expected was keeping all people on board at the same wave-length. We’re happy to see it has been a smooth process. Air India’s chairman is focused on this and that helps,” said a SITA official.

“The aggressive timeline will pose a big challenge. It is an ambitious project, but is doable,” Maneesh Jaikrishna, SITA director-South Asia, told AviationWeek, two months ago.

The contract stipulated setting up a single airline code in 300 days — an imperative to joining Star — that will help the carrier enter as a full member.

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 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.

SITA has been operating in India for just under 50 years. Indian carriers use SITA’s network services for international communications and SITA also has a 100% market share in the provision of specialized air to ground communication via VHF and satellite data link services. This solution is being used by Air India, Jet Airways, JetLite and Kingfisher Airlines. SITA has invested heavily in RGSs (Remote Ground Stations) and 27 are now deployed strategically within India to support the VHF Datalink Network.

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