EasyJet has made GB Airways' IT cheaper and more flexible, it has said, by moving systems and staff over to its own Microsoft-based platforms after it acquired the company in January.
Tim Newing, IT director at EasyJet, told Computerworld UK that instead of handpicking systems from each company or merging current systems, EasyJet had decided to move GB Airways staff onto its own systems as they offered more flexibility and lower costs. Previously, GB Airways ran its own range of bespoke and airline industry software, and had some paper-based systems.
After the £104 million purchase was given the regulatory go-ahead in January, EasyJet began making key systems available to GB Airways’ 700 crew members and office staff, and it trained them on the software. EasyJet also moved GB Airways' customer records over to its own systems.
“We try to be as digital as possible," he said. "IT is quite quite conservative in many airlines, and GB Airways had pigeon hole boxes containing lots of paper, but they’re doing everything digitally now. It’s a big change in working practices.”
“It was a big data conversion exercise, and a process change for people using the systems,” Newing said. He said that support was available around the clock for those staff who were new to the systems, as a result of EasyJet having outsourced its IT service desk to Alfred McAlpine in December.
Newing said licence costs had also been reduced by moving GB Airways staff over to EasyJet’s systems. “It was astonishing how much higher GB Airways’ IT cost base was, even though it was a well-run and profitable airline,” he said.
Reigning in costs would continue to be vital as EasyJet carried through on plans this year to add 30 new aircraft and hundreds more crew, he said. “With the general economy in a downturn, IT needs to be the differentiator. We need to invest in the correct way."
EasyJet primarily runs Microsoft systems, from Office on its desktops to SQL Server, and it used Microsoft SSIS integration software to migrate GB Airways’ customer data. It also has bespoke booking systems and website systems, and an in-house seat pricing system.
The key crew systems come from supplier AIMS, an airline specialist. They schedule staff movement, flight routes, and also allow crew notices to be circulated.
Over the last two years, EasyJet has moved all its intranet data over from Global 360 Keyfile and Open Text Livelink to Microsoft SharePoint, to simplify systems and better structure processes, Newing said.
The company plans in the long run to make more use of Web 2.0, and Newing said it was developing systems with Microsoft to enable more collaboration and discussion for customers on its website, as they plan holidays together.
“The challenge is to strike the balance between a busy PA trying to book a trip and a group of holidaymakers looking around for the best deal for all of them,” he said.
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