• November 1, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Flying With Avaya

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An airport is a busy place, not only for the passengers but also for the airlines, maintenance staff, and administrative offices that support its daily operations. Maintaining an updated communication system to manage these airport tenants is critical, not only to ensure turbulence-free operations, but safety. Edmonton International Airport, located in the capital of Alberta, Canada, is no exception. Edmonton Airport Authority (EAA), the local not-for-profit organization that is responsible for the management of the city's four airports, maintains the communication system. The problem EAA faced was twofold: First, it needed to improve the level of service for airport tenants in the administrative offices, various airlines based at the airport, local restaurants, and stores. "We had some delays with our telephone moves, adds, and changes," says Mike Gauthier, superintendent of electrical services at EAA. "With an international airport, we have lots of tenants moving, coming, or going. Whether it's moving, adding, or programming a phone, those service charges were high. It didn't help that the local telecommunication company was having labor disputes with management. All of this was hurting service." Second, EAA needed to improve emergency preparedness with a flexible network that would support its needs into the future. The new solution needed to link the Air Operations Maintenance Center (AOMC) and Edmonton Airport Fire Station into the airport's communication infrastructure. To find a vendor EAA simply put the job out for tender and let companies bid on it. Avaya brought the best offer, according to Gauthier. Avaya deployed its MultiVantage Communications Applications suite, which includes its flagship product, the Avaya Communication Manager IP telephony software and messaging application. The installation proved to be easier than anyone could have expected, according to Gauthier. The implementation was split over two days and done at night. Each implementation period took between five and six hours and with no loss of service between cutovers. "We already had the infrastructure in place for IP, as our Internet system was up and running," Gauthier says. "We just piggy-backed Avaya's suite onto that. As for the implementation process, I was very impressed." MultiVantage Communications has enabled Edmonton International Airport to more efficiently direct customer requests to the right person in the right department and improve customer satisfaction by freeing staff from handling misdirected calls. Additionally, the AOMC and airport fire station have been added to the airport's communication infrastructure. The solution has also connected the airport with the communications systems of the local EMS services, improving overall levels of responsiveness in the event of an emergency. Finally, operational costs have been reduced. By converging over 600 voice and data lines onto one system, Edmonton International Airport has registered an ROI of nearly $200,000 per year on service fees for phone lines moved, added, or changed. "By bringing all those moves, adds, and changes in-house, we've managed to drop all the service charges associated with letting the telecommunication company do it," Gauthier says. "And it's almost no increase on our maintenance staff." One surprise for Gauthier was the improvement for passengers. Scattered throughout the airport are dozens of common-use information phones located at booths and gates for passengers who need general information about airport directions or airline information. After implementing Avaya, Edmonton International Airport noticed an improvement in service levels. The implementation has been such a success that EAA plans to bring Edmonton's city center airport and two regional airports onto the Avaya IP system as well. "This was such an easy decision to make," Gauthier says. "The business case was real and tangible. It was a very easy implementation." The Payoff By implementing Avaya's IP solution, Edmonton Airport has:
  • saved $200,000 per year on service fees;
  • improved customer service throughout the airport; and
  • connected the airport's operational and emergency facilities to improve communication responsiveness in the event of an emergency.
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