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Tech upgrades vital for airlines to strengthen resilience and agility

December 6, 2023

Deepak Sharma   

Associate Vice President, Solution Engineering, APAC, Tata Communications

As the global travel industry has now taken flight in the new normal, ensuring airlines have the latest tech upgrades is critical to ensure they have the resilience and agility to meet the increasing demand.

In 2022, international air traffic increased by 152.7% compared to 2021 and is expected to jump even further. Considering the anticipated rise in demand, this makes it more important than ever for airlines to ensure their ICT infrastructure remains as resilient as possible. This is particularly true given how costly IT outages can be for organisations such as airlines, with estimates of potential costs ranging from $5,600 to $9,000 per minute.

In recent months, Tata Communications enabled several airline customers implement an overhaul of their backend ICT infrastructure. With all airlines having their own unique objectives and requirements, successful implementation of tech upgrades requires a deep understanding of each airline’s business objectives, pain points and challenges. By understanding their needs, we  tailored solutions to meet each airline’s specific requirements – not only current ones, but also those that may arise in future.

Here are some customer stories of how Tata Communications helped leading airlines strengthen their ICT backbone and enabled streamlined, efficient operations and in turn built a more agile and resilient enterprise.

High Performance Hybrid WAN to Enhance Operational Efficiencies

The first is a leading airline who approached us with the task of significantly expanding its bandwidth while maintaining the same cost levels and preserving security and integrity. The airline, which relies on global applications to run its essential day-to-day operations at its office locations and for customer facing interactions, needed a reliable network backbone to support the performance requirements of these applications. They needed a flexible wide area network (WAN) solution to guarantee high network performance, quality, and availability.

The airline deployed a hybrid WAN using MPLS and Internet Services from Tata Communications to connect their Airports and Cargo locations, which provided the airline with flexibility and the opportunity to cut costs and save time by routing non-critical traffic directly to the internet.

For the rollout, Tata Communications worked closely with the airline to ensure a smooth delivery process and continuously optimise lead times.

With the hybrid WAN solution, the airline is now experiencing 99.994% network availability for dual connected locations, with a reliable and high-quality network performance globally. The hybrid WAN provides network capabilities to support mission critical traffic and seamless performance of corporate applications, along with supporting voice and video traffic, leading to enhanced collaboration and thus increased productivity. No downtime means no missed revenue opportunities.

MOVE (SIM and IoT Connect) Solution for Seamless-Ubiquitous Connectivity Globally

When airline pilots and crew are flying between their home base and foreign airports, they often rely on unstable airport Wi-Fi networks or incur expensive mobile roaming charges to access updated flight information, electronic flight bag applications or passenger lists. Additionally, there are sections inside an Airport where there is no WiFi coverage while it is an area which needs reliable connection (more than one operator). On-board inflight entertainment (IFE) systems also require connectivity to get content updates. Moreover, cargo and ramp systems require mobile data to better communicate and improve operational efficiency.

Tata Communications deployed its MOVE (SIM and IoT Connect) solution for a large Middle Eastern airline to connect their crew, pilots, aircraft, ramp, baggage and cargo operations globally in a seamless, secure manner.

In addition to connectivity, the MOVE platform also helped deliver additional security, integration into the Airline’s proprietary device management system and control the data consumption by allowing access to only specific applications/websites.

Crew members are issued connected tablets that allow them to upload and download flight, passenger, and duty-free information before and after every flight. Inflight entertainment (IFE), ramp and electronic flight bags (EFBs) for pilots are also installed with MOVE SIM cards that allow them to be connected globally for seamless, secure data access.

This deployment enabled secure and guaranteed mobile connectivity across all flight destinations globally for the airline. This resulted in reduced aircraft turnaround time, thereby improving overall operational efficiency. A shared data bundle and controlled access across the airline also ensured cost optimisation and reduced data wastage. Lastly, a centralised MOVE Management Portal allows the airline’s system administrators a unified view to manage usage and to secure devices on a granular level globally.

Additionally, we envisage that in the near future, we will enable aviation companies a monetisation aspect by offering Global eSIMs to their passengers either in the form of Loyalty (Part of Loyalty Programs) or as a direct sale (tied into their Passenger onboarding/ticket sale/web-check in process).

Managed SD-WAN solution for Smarter Global Customer Contact Centre Operations

Another leading airline approached us with the task of channelising their omni-channel customer traffic on our network and to distribute it to the most suitable Customer Contact Center Location. They also needed to improve operational efficiency while ensuring top quality customer experience for their globally distributed customer base.

Tata Communications helped create and deploy a managed SD-WAN solution ensuring customers are connected to contact center agents within the shortest possible time, enabling the airline to provide a consistent experience to its customers.

Earlier, some of the contact centres in specific countries did not have a 24×7 customer supports. Tata Communications solutions ensured customers in all the countries can be supported 24×7 and also customer communications channels can be routed not only basis language of agent, but also on skill set basis. Networked call recording was also intelligently routed to make use of low-traffic windows, thereby improving network efficiency.

Our 99.95% service level agreement (SLA) availability ensures customers get a reliable collaboration experience wherever they are. The fully managed service also allows organisations like airlines to have simplified solutions to all their communications and technology concerns.

Looking Beyond the Horizon

As we progress, business resiliency and agility will be top-of-mind for most airlines. As such, cloud-based services will be the preferred choice as airlines avoid Capex-intensive models that require expensive hardware upgrades.

With the continued rollout of 5G networks across the world, digital enablers like us are also looking at how we can leverage the low-latency, high speed network to further streamline airline operations and offer value-added services to flight crew and passengers.

Further afield, emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and the metaverse come into play where airlines may deploy these technologies for crew training, aircraft maintenance, customer experiences and even inflight entertainment. These will also open new revenue streams and opportunities for airlines.

Of course, having stable, reliable connectivity across their global network will be key to enabling these high-bandwidth services and Tata Communications is here to help airlines realise their visions.

Learn more about Tata Communications MOVE and Contact Centre as a Service.