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25 CHAPTER SIX REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE A search of the available documentation revealed that al- airport operator places in its procurement process. Examples though there are some journal articles and other resources of these unique requirements are network connectivity, hard- that address issues surrounding the common use continuum, ware preferences, software application functionality, etc. the amount available in relation to this topic is relatively small. In addition, a small group of subject experts currently Many of the case study respondents have been using com- appears to be providing most of the information to those that mon use for many years. As international airports began are writing about the topic. Sources such as IATA, ATA, and migrating across the common use continuum, it became nec- ACI do not have information readily or freely available for essary for airlines to determine their overall approach to researchers. Also, the number of airports that have embraced common use. Some respondents determined that it was best common use is relatively small, compared with the total for their applications to migrate to a common use platform, number of commercial airports in operation worldwide. whereas others work to maintain a proprietary environment. Although the list of airports is growing, the industry is still in the early adopter stage. Even though they may be using common use systems, many of the airlines participating in the case studies indicated To support the findings of the knowledge-based resources that they do not prefer operating in a common use environ- noted in the previous chapters, the development of this syn- ment. Figure 6 shows an airline operating at a dedicated gate thesis also included the preparation of case studies of specific at its hub airport. Their preference is to install dedicated sys- airlines and airports selected as relevant samplings of com- tems, but some airlines will consider each airport indepen- mon use implementation. Seven case studies were completed dently. If common use makes sense at a given airport, some as a part of this synthesis. The participants in the case studies airlines try to work with the airport operator to ensure that the were Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Amsterdam Airport airline's needs are met. The experience of the case study par- Schiphol, British Airways, Frankfurt International Airport, ticipants has shown that implementations at airports differ, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, and Lufthansa even if the same vendor is selected. The start-up of a com- Airlines. These case studies can be found in Appendix B of mon use system at an airport can be a labor-intensive effort this document. This chapter summarizes the findings of these for the airlines. The airlines want to ensure that the installed case studies. system functions in a manner that allows them to conduct business. Even though airports may have the same common During the preparation of the case studies, it was noted use provider, since each airport is slightly different, airlines that any discussion about common use appears to lead to a are forced to create site-specific application versions. This discussion of common use technology systems, such as approach defeats the purpose of common use and creates an CUTE and CUSS. Although the common use continuum em- environment that is very difficult for an airline to support braces much more than just IT systems, IT is a vital part of and manage. In the same way, vendors choose to make the equation and needs to be explored. Even though CUTE these unique site-specific decisions to win the procurement has been around since 1984, its implementation is relatively opportunity. limited. CUSS has been around since 2003 and its imple- mentation is even more limited. These two systems, how- Case study respondents recognize that there are benefits to ever, form the technological basis for common use. an airport implementing common use. They also recognize that common use can provide advantages to airlines; how- ever, respondents have indicated that their experience shows AIRLINES that the cost of a common use implementation still tends to be more expensive overall than a dedicated environment. Airline case study participants have witnessed an increase in Much of the additional cost comes from the inability of a common use implementations during the last six to seven common use system to support an airline's ability to control years. Respondents interviewed noted that it has been their the distribution process in a timely fashion. On proprietary experience that each airport operator creates its own unique systems, airlines can remotely update and distribute their common use platform, thus making it less and less `common applications on demand. In a common use environment, the use.' This uniqueness is the result of requirements that an update and distribution processes are dramatically longer,
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26 A seemingly minor event results in a ripple effect throughout the downstream system, affecting not only the current flight, but flights from/to other airports within the air- line's entire system. Case study respondents reported that they have less func- tionality with a common use implementation than they do with their proprietary system. For example, the functionality of one respondent's gate information display system (GIDS) is not available through common use installations. This sys- tem enables the gate agents to display the status of their stand-by list for the current flight, among other features. For GIDS to be present in a common use environment, the airport operator must provide a second computer or space for a second computer to drive the data to the gate display. Most airports object to adding the airline-specific computer, be- FIGURE 6 Airport on-gate parking. cause this changes the gates to a more dedicated format, thus somewhat diminishing the airport's ability to use the gate as and require at least one certification process by the vendor a common use gate. before being released. This can delay the update process by as much as four months, according to survey results and case In some of the common use sites that respondents operate, study participants. they also use their proprietary check-in application in their back offices and lounges. Whenever possible, airlines con- Many of the perceived benefits of common use have not tinue to install their own dedicated equipment. These airlines yet proved true for many of the respondents. For example, assert it is still more cost-effective to have dedicated equip- common use is expected to make entry into a market ment at a station rather than CUTE equipment. Caveats to quicker and easier. It has been the respondents' experience this are whether the station is located at a significant distance that the need still exists to provide a dedicated connection from the airline's headquarters and whether the station has back to the host, as well as to install back office proprietary local IT staff support. The difficulty with CUTE installations systems. Based on their experience, the installation of the at non-U.S. airports is that the airport operators are continu- dedicated connection back to their host system is the long ally moving toward profit making. This causes the airport op- lead item in any installation. Thus, common use does not erators to start charging too much for the CUTE usage, which accelerate the overall schedule of starting up a new service affects the airlines' business. When possible, some airlines to a new market. interviewed prefer to use the CLUB model, as they then have an influence with the provider. Several case study partici- Case study participants see a benefit with common use in pants work with very experienced CUTE developers, and international terminals, which must support many airlines in have developed a close relationship with the CUTE vendors a limited amount of space. Implementation of common use at to help speed the deployment of application upgrades to their an international arrivals terminal could help airlines more stations. quickly turn a flight into a domestic continuation. In today's environment at many airports, flights must arrive at an inter- In an effort to streamline the deployment of their CUTE national terminal, deplane, and then the airplane must be applications, at least one case study participant has created a towed to their domestic gates for departure. If common use "terminal emulator," which allows them to deploy one pack- were implemented in an airport such as the one described, age to all sites and all vendors. This terminal emulator is the the airlines could leave a plane at the gate where it arrived only portion of the system that is certified CUTE; however, and then reboard the plane for the continuation of the do- it allows the airline to make business functionality upgrades mestic flight, assuming that the gate is not needed for another on a regular, shortened deployment cycle. The application is international flight. able to determine the vendor and configuration of the station and to launch the appropriate set of applications for that ven- Case study participants also indicated that local support dor platform. In this way, the airline has simplified the man- personnel may not always be adequately trained to support agement of its code and the deployment of its applications. the system. In many instances, the local support is supplied directly or indirectly by the vendor. The implication is that Several respondents' concerns with CUTE is the timeli- the knowledge transfer from site to site is not adequately ness of upgrades. In their proprietary sites, many of the re- managed. This can affect the airlines' business, because what spondents are able to upgrade almost instantaneously. may otherwise be a minor event is not quickly resolved, and For CUTE sites, there is no control over the release at local the resolution is not clearly communicated to the airlines. sites, and therefore the release time is variable. This adds an
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27 amount of uncertainty to the release cycle that is difficult to standardizes, there are different lengths of standard bag tags. manage. One airport uses one length and another airport uses a differ- ent length. These airlines have to develop their bag tags to The respondents' noted that because of this uncertainty, meet all possible scenarios. there are some sites that are several months out of date from their current CUTE application release cycle. These occur Some respondent airlines are very concerned about the stock even though some of the respondents send out their follow- used to print their boarding passes. One reason is the quality of ing year's release schedule months in advance. what is printed by the boarding pass printers. For example, low- quality paper stock affects the ability of the gate reader to read Airlines are also concerned about the visibility of charges a two-dimensional (2D) barcode, thus causing more gate delays for common use. From their perspective, as they are planning during boarding. This can be especially troublesome to these and budgeting for the following years, they need to account airlines as they continue to automate the boarding process. for costs appropriately. It has been some respondents' expe- Also, to meet customer branding images, some of the respon- rience that CUTE charges are line-itemed into a single bill, dent airlines require use of their current boarding pass stock. eliminating visibility of those charges. Bundling of the The stock is high quality, but is not usable in thermal printers, CUTE charges into the overall rates and charges also hides which are becoming a popular type of printer for CUTE and this visibility. Respondents recommend transparency in costs CUSS terminals. All of the case study airlines are members of and, as much as possible, that the price remains somewhat IATA and they are fully ready and compliant with the Simpli- level, not subject to frequent changes. fying the Business initiatives that IATA is implementing. They are already compliant with the 2D barcode initiative as well as Some of the airline respondents viewed CUTE as a strategic with the e-ticketing initiative. With both of these initiatives, advantage for their airline. As such, these airlines will encour- however, these airlines are facing challenges. Although these age an airport to install CUTE. One of the criteria these airlines airlines are 2D barcode compliant, the current installed base of seek in an airport when they are investigating new routes is printers is not. They require firmware, which is the software whether or not that airport has CUTE implemented. If the air- resident in the printer itself, and, in some cases, hardware up- port does not have CUTE installed, then these airlines educate grades. In a common use airport, this cost could be the respon- the airport operator about the benefits of CUTE. Hopefully the sibility of the airport. As such, many airports are currently not airport operator will choose to install CUTE as a result. supporting the migration to 2D barcode printing and therefore are preventing the roll-out of this IATA initiative. In some Other respondents have a unique process for creating, up- countries having only an e-ticket and not a paper ticket presents dating, certifying, and releasing CUTE applications. In some a problem. Customs agents for the United States, for example, cases, the airline is responsible for the creation and updating may require a passenger to show a return ticket before allowing of the software for its CUTE applications. Once the applica- that passenger entry into the country. With e-tickets, there is no tion is created or updated, however, the code is handed over return ticket, causing entry to the country to be denied. Another to another division or company for precertification, certifica- example is India, where one must have a ticket to enter the air- tion with the CUTE vendors, and deployment to the local port terminal. E-tickets do not suffice as a ticket in this case and sites. The other division or company may also provide certi- can result in denial of entry to the airport, thus causing the pas- fication services to more than one airline. These third-party senger to miss the flight. entities provide precertification for multiple CUTE providers and operating systems, thus offering an economy of scale for Case study participants had some recommendations for the precertification process. The benefit of this configuration airports that are considering a common use implementation. is that airlines are able to test their CUTE applications on It is important for the airport operator to have a good rela- multiple vendor platforms in one location. These third-party tionship with the technical people at the airlines as well as precertification entities have highly trained experts who have with the vendor providing the solution. The airport operator worked with the CUTE vendors for many years. should have a sharp technical staff that understands the com- mon use system and its inherent issues. Common use has Case study participants indicated that they have created both a business side and a technical side, and the airport op- their self-service kiosk application utilizing the CUSS stan- erator must be able to address the needs of both. The airport dard, and as such the application is CUSS certified. However, operator needs to treat service partners as partners, not turn none of the case study participants promotes common use them into adversaries. Another recommendation is that the kiosks in airports as they do CUTE. These airlines have many airport operator needs to remember that the operation of concerns about the implementation of CUSS kiosks that to the check-in and boarding process is part of the airlines' core date have prevented them from taking the same approach as business, and to ensure that it is not removing core business they have with CUTE. For example, it is difficult to meet the requirements from airline control. branding needs of an airline using CUSS. Also, airports are standardizing boarding pass stock to help reduce costs. Bag Respondents also recommended that airport operators work tag printing is another issue. For example, as each airport with the airlines during the design, bidding, and installation