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Angelos Astrinidis, CEO, avibright – AVIATION SOFTWARE | ATN.AERO Interview

ATN: What is your company’s experience in technology solutions for airlines?

AA: Founded in 1999, iteam is a dynamic technology solutions provider for large and medium sized enterprises. Back in 2012 we were chosen by Greece’s flagship carrier, to design and develop technology solutions for both critical and less critical functions and related processes, and so far we have successfully delivered more than 50 different custom technology solutions.

Our exemplary collaboration with this airline introduced us to this fascinating and unique industry and led our decision to develop a dedicated Strategic Business Unit (SBU) avibright that offers unique Value-for-Money solutions for airlines.

ATN: Aviation is one of the most severely hit industries by the COVID-19 crisis. How do you think the aviation industry’s comeback will look like?

AA: Indeed, the entire world is facing extreme and stressful circumstances and aviation is at the top of the list of the affected industries. According to IATA, the first recovery phase will require significant government relief measures, combined with cost cutting efforts by airlines, so that they can stand on their feet again and gradually start reforming their business in the post-COVID19 era.

We all realize it is going to be really tough but on the other hand, as experts put it (Forbes, How The Airline Industry Will Transform Itself As It Comes Back From Coronavirus), the long-term outlook for aviation and travel will continue to be bright, since demand will always exist.

After airlines recover from the COVID-19 shock, they will try to transform their business models to adjust to the new “normality”. Inevitably, one of the driving forces of this transformation will be cost reduction and, in my opinion, different and innovative technology solutions can prove to be a great ally in this battle.

ATN: Other than reducing cost, in which other ways can technology support an airline in the quest of improved overall performance in normal circumstances?

AA: Across industries it has been proved that digitally advanced companies achieve new levels of competitive advantage and the airline industry is no exception to this rule.

Technology acts as an enabler for companies with a clear and coherent digital strategy that drives the diligent selection of the right technology tools to:

  • automate, transform and streamline processes,
  • support new business models,
  • simplify the job of employees and reassure the quality of their work, and
  • elevate customer experience.

As one means for achieving the objectives of their digital strategy, technology solutions, allow companies to simultaneously realize significant cost savings and improved productivity and performance, thus become more profitable.

ATN: Each airline invests in critical systems and specialized platforms that support its operations and distribution. Are there other technology tools that can further support airline functions and processes and have an impact on its performance?

AA: Other than those focal systems at the core of airlines’ operations and distribution, usually there are numerous other peripheral apps and tools that support specific functions. Yet there is a wide variety of business processes and activities of airlines that are either not automated at all or are automated but not in an optimal way. This is where innovative, user-friendly, digital technology can make a difference.

I will clarify this with an example:

When we were designing our Cabin App & Operational Flight Reporting tool, we recognized the extent of the application complexity problem that many airlines are facing. There are too many applications – a pilot and the crew members might need to use up to a dozen different apps – with different credentials, different interfaces and no integration with required enterprise systems to facilitate data entry, while reporting may still not be properly supported.

This is why we decided to name our Cabin App solution Crew Life Simple (CLS), and made sure that it does exactly what its name says!

Our CLS app integrates with all necessary enterprise systems, providing real-time data and uniquely combining a series of required cabin crew processes and activities in a single, user-friendly application. To name a few, it facilitates:

● Crew Roster ● Crew Information ● Service Reports ● Passenger List Summary ● Passenger List Seatmap ● Passenger Connections ● Aircraft Movement ● Flight Crew Notices & Memos ● Service Report Feedback ● Crew Messages ● Ground Handling Information ● Flight Bucket ● Cabin Feedback ● Premium Customers Alert ● Special Meals ● Contracted Ground Equipment ● UPGD Upgrade in-flight ● Aircraft Differences ● Crew Meals.

Achieving its basic purpose, CLS makes cabin crew tasks simple, hassle-free, paperless, error-free and increases cabin crew productivity overall. On top of that, knock-on effects include cost savings (e.g. less paper cost, less crew meals cost), improved passenger experience deriving from personalized services, better overall quality of service provided by flight attendants. Last but not least, CLS’s comprehensive operational and service flight reporting system allows for instant monitoring, rapid assignment of corrective actions, identification of systematic problems, risk assessment and root cause analysis.

This is an example of how business automation can assist in cost reduction, while ensuring happier employees, happier customers and valuable insights for managers to facilitate real data-driven decisions.

A similar example of a system also accomplishing the above is our Disruption Management System – HYPERION, that Mr. Panos Nicolaidis, Director of Ground at Aegean Airlines recently presented to ATN.

ATN: The examples that you gave us have to do with solutions that integrate with existing enterprise systems to better serve the airline’s functional objectives. Is this the way that automation can technologically upgrade an airline?

AA: Yes, this is one way, but it is not the only one. An airline can also achieve great monetary as well as non-monetary benefits, such as saving time, diminishing errors, boosting productivity and facilitating employees to do their job, via automating various stand-alone workflows and manual processes.

Let me give you some examples of that:

Manual codeshare management is a painstaking job that demands focus, dedication, prompt actions, and very often it becomes a puzzling task for the network planner. Our Codeshare Management System – SYNDESIS transforms the daunting process of generating operating and marketing flights, into an easy and error-free one. The system reads and filters SSIM files, then pinpoints possible differences that require resolution and finally generates updated and accurate SSIM files. The day-to-day work of the network planner is optimized and simplified, while the airline can honor its commercial agreements and safeguard its compliance rate through better synchronization. Furthermore, the system also gives the opportunity to airlines to explore new profitable codeshare opportunities, via uploading the schedules of potential partners, in order to explore hypothetical scenarios and make data-driven decisions.

Another example of manual process automation that does not require any integration with core systems and proved to have an extremely fast Return on Investment (ROI), is our Uniform Management System – ENDYSIS. Endysis is a web application for centralized real time uniform management, from ordering and sizing, to assignment and final discard, that enables a surprising reduction of the cost related to the process. The system automates the compilation of a uniform, based on employee’s position and role, and the assignment of uniforms to employees. It allows for real-time monitoring of warehouse and inventory, stock update, notifications and alerts in case of “faulty” assignments, purchase forecasts, vendors comparison and accountability and maintenance (cleaning & repairing) management.

The last example in this type of technology solutions is the Borescope Inspection Management System, a web-based application that allows airlines to automate the process of filing inspection reports, keeping track of any pending inspections, planning all future checks and monitoring the entire borescope inspection process. The inspector can save reports (both data and media) and documentation of findings at the same repository and the Inspection Management Team can extract engine statuses accurately and timely, so that they resolve and avoid possible critical issues.

ATN: Based on your experience, what is the greatest contribution of business process automation to the digital transformation of an airline?

AA: If I were to distinguish one of the most impactful contributions of business process automation, this has to be that it facilitates the transformation of data into intelligence and knowledge that drive profitable business actions.

Guided by the needs of our client, we have developed an integrated Business Intelligence Solution for airlines that provides a real-time overview of all important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that need to be continuously monitored by top and middle management, so that they can make timely data-driven decisions and optimize resource deployment.

We detect and collect structured and unstructured data, such as database exports, excel files and other data formats, from various internal and external sources. The data are being normalized, combined and then visualized into dynamic live visuals such as charts, maps, and graphics. This information is uniformly shared across departments and C-level management, and serves as a single point of information and collaboration.

At this point in time we are also exploring the possibility of adding to our Business Intelligence Solution features that are powered by Machine Learning (ML), in order to provide decision makers with the capacity to better see the relationship between trends, patterns and behaviors, previously “hidden” in data and to develop effective forecasts.

ENDYSIS – Uniform Management Solution is Azure Ready

The airline industry is a uniform-heavy industry, burdened with the time-consuming and costly process of ordering and managing some thousands of uniform items for a large workforce.

Regardless of the airline’s size the resource-sapping process of managing uniforms is an important one, given that compliance to uniform wearer standards is among the things that safeguard the airline’s image.

On top of being costly and time consuming, the manual management of uniforms can lead to unnecessary risks, errors, and oversights.

ENDYSIS is avibright’s solution for Uniform Management, that transforms the end-to-end process into a streamlined and hassle-free one, while providing up-to-date and accurate information in a matter of seconds.

Automation and optimization occurs in all three areas of activities involved in the process , namely activities related to:

  • Procurement & Inventory
  • Uniforms Assignment & Employees Ordering (self-service)
  • Uniform Lifecycle Management 

We pleased to announce that ENDYSIS is now available as a cloud solution as well.

HYPERION – Passenger Disruption Management System | Interview with Panos Nikolaidis, Ground Operations Director at Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air

HYPERION – Passenger Disruption Management System by avibright

Hyperion is an integrated system that enables the teams responsible for disruption management, to handle affected flights and accommodate customers in a timely and cost efficient way. The aim of this solution is to gather, consolidate, summarize and analyse operational data, coming from various sources, through a single interface to simplify decision making and automate processes. It does this by automatically producing several possible solutions to each situation, giving the airline customer care agents the ability to choose and implement the best possible one.

Through an advanced smart and colour-based notification system, the agent has quick and real-time information on:

  • possible delays,
  • misconnections,
  • actions required for a flight (e.g. provide meal vouchers to passengers),
  • flights marked as “important”,
  • flights marked as “no further actions required”,
  • aircraft modifications.

Furthermore, in case of discrepancies between DCS and the operational system of the airline, the agent is notified through a Synergy Hub and can update DCS with the click of a button, without leaving Hyperion’s interface.

Interview with Panos Nikolaidis, Ground Operations Director at Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air on HYPERION

Lately Aegean is introducing a lot of digitalization in several functions / processes. Mr.Nikolaidis, what is the relationship of Aegean with digitalization?

Our primary and first focus is the customer and offering the best and up-to-date services and products, which will always make the journey with us a nice and relaxing experience. Having said that, when designing or reviewing a process or a product, we always ask ourselves: “How can we make it digital? How can our customers benefit from the vast area of opportunities that digitalization offers, in order to enjoy better service and care from us? How our people’s daily activities can be easier by using technology in order to offer better services at all circumstances?”

So yes, we believe a lot in the digitalization which gives even more power either directly to our customers or indirectly, via our people who are in front and behind the scenes, working on offering to them the best travel experience whatsoever.

How does Aegean feel about automation?

Well, we feel happy that we live in this era of innovation and advanced technologies which make our lives easier. Of course, we see automation as a helping tool and not as something that replaces the human interaction.

Aegean for the past year introduced a big digital initiative around disruption. What is disruption for you?

We all know that, at some point, things will go wrong. At this exact moment, when the operation is not evolving as originally planned, for example, due to bad weather conditions at a specific destination, we know that this is where we need to put extra focus and care to our customers.

Therefore, disruption for us is something expected and it is an opportunity to show to all those people who chose traveling with Aegean, that when things go wrong, we are there, we are prepared and we take good care of them, while minimizing as much as possible the inconvenience that a flight disruption may cause to them.

And what have you done around disruption?

In cooperation with aviBright, we have developed our own Passenger Disruption Management System, called Hyperion, which is used by our Customer Care Center, a 24/7 team located inside our Operations Control Center in our head office in Athens that is responsible for all passenger disruptions.

Using Hyperion, this small team easily identifies disruption and acts proactively instead of reactively.

Via integrations with our core systems (PSS), we provide true personalized service to disrupted customers by sending out automated notifications.

How did you identify the needs behind Hyperion?

When we looked at disruption, we saw that there was a lack of ownership. This led us to believe that we need to establish a Centralized Disruption Handling Team (Customer Care Center).

Then, we also identified the need to eliminate queuing from airports during disruption.

There were people queuing at the airports waiting just to be informed about the flight they are re-protected, find out their rebooked flights or get directions on what they should do next (e.g. how to go to the hotel they are accommodated).

It became very clear to us, that we needed to find ways to reach out to our disrupted customers and push the information to them, on what actions we have already taken in respect of their care.

And how did you move forward?

We combined our business know-how with our software partner’s (avibright) technology know-how.

avibright helped us to transform our business requirements and our vision into a Passenger Disruption Management application: Hyperion.  The tool was easily adopted and used by our people and we had a really smooth transition to providing the new digitalized services.

And what does Hyperion do exactly?

Hyperion integrates with our systems (e.g. PSS) and our partners (e.g. hotels) and is pushing real time notifications to disrupted customers including their vouchers (snack/ meal / compensations) and hotel accommodation.

The main benefit of Hyperion is the improved customer satisfaction, achieved through the identification of each passenger’s needs and the provision of true personalized service. At the same time, we now handle disruption through a single interface, removing user friction and the constant need to train agents on how to use different platforms.

In addition, we now have a very detailed analysis of data related to passenger disruption costs.

About Panos Nikolaidis

He is the Ground Operations Director of Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air, managing 35 domestic and over 120 international airports. His responsibilities cover Customer Experience, including Customer Care Center and Customer Relations. He is also responsible for Ground Handling agreements and Airport Contracts, Cargo Operations, Airport Services continuous improvement projects, Ground Operations Safety, Lounges, Baggage and Ground Operations digital products. 

Under his leadership Aegean Ground Operations launched several digital products for IRROPS handling, under the code name Ariadne, such as digitalization of snack and meal vouchers, hotel accommodation, monetary compensation, re-accommodation of customers and the notification of these to customers. Also, the creation of the automated generation of baggage PIRs for all Aegean customers, as well as multi-dimensional analytics for Baggage Performance & On-time Performance.  

CrewLifeSimple (CLS) Cabin App receives a Gold Award

Our CLS Cabin App received a Gold Award, in the Category “Innovation in Technology” at the 2019 E-volution Awards.

E-volution Awards are a set of honorary awards for technical implementation and innovation in the e-commerce industry, organized by Boussias Communications in collaboration with ELTRUN.

avibright’s CLS is an enterprise software application that digitally transforms the Airline’s Flight Operations. Numerous functionalities and add-on modules enable the simplification of the day-to-day activities of the crew, allowing them not only to file all required reports, but also to be on top of their game by having access to a series of information such as rostering, flight briefing, passengers info, connections, memos, meals, and other on a single platform. CLS is fully responsive and can be accessed online & offline through any device (mobile, tablet, PC), utilizes with smart synch technology and integrates with all third-party systems required (e.g. AIMS, AMADEUS).

avibright @ the IATA Aviation Data Symposium 2019

We are very pleased we had the opportunity to showcase our solutions, in cooperation with Aegean Airlines, at the “ IATA Aviation Data Symposium 2019”.

The event took place in June 25-27 in Athens, Greece.

The agenda included topics ranging from connected aircraft, to data sharing and blockchain, e-commerce and more.

The three-day event featured five tracks: Pax Planning, Sales, Distribution, Ops, MRO, FinTech, and Data Science and AI.

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