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Simplifying airport IT

By Gurkan Altiner, CIO / IT and Automation Director, ISG-Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport


Running an airport IT operation can sometimes be hectic, since you need to keep everything up and running almost 24 hours every day.

A flight information screen update problem, a baggage sorter equipment failure or terminal-wide network availability problem can cause major delays and disruptions for passengers and airlines.

Almost everything is IT-centric and all airport operations tasks are performed with the help of IT and automation systems.

The other challenge for airport operators is to feed operational information into finance and operation departments for accurate billing. Streamlined and accurate information flow on the revenue from airline passengers, aircraft services and fuel services is crucial for financial optimization.

In addition, non-aero revenues, including area allocation and rents, duty free, car park, food and beverage need to be systematically optimized to maximize the profit of an airport operator.

In order to meet these challenges, we started a business and IT transformation program at the end of 2012 to support our tremendous growth at ISG-Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport. This is an on-going project and progress so far is really promising and satisfactory.

Simplify and standardize IT

The first phase was to simplify and standardize applications across the airport.

We had many different software products at the airport, which were causing major integration and maintenance problems. We had two separate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)  systems, a separate maintenance system and another separate HR system.

As middleware we had a very complex message broker that served all systems and generated many messages for synchronization.

In addition, we had many ISG-specific small business applications developed on Java and .net platforms. Our IT team were spending long hours resolving integration issues among those isolated systems.

Our standardization project covered decommissioning two separate legacy ERPs and implementing SAP ERP, deploying business intelligence, and integrating a range of systems, including retail, maintenance, check-in and billing.

Actionable information

After this phase, we were still generating data from other sources that have financial relevance. So as a second phase, we decided to store this information centrally in the SAP environment.

This includes car park sales data, survey kiosks results, premium services sales data via web site and mobile apps. The idea was to be able to transform this data into actionable information, which can be accessed from a single source.

Where we are now on this journey

We have completed the early phases of this IT transformation project, but the digital world is so dynamic there will always be a room to improve. During the two years the project has taken to-date, we have reduced the headcount for our IT department by 10% while doubling our passenger traffic to almost 24 million PAX per annum.

SITA partnership

SITA has supported our ongoing transformation as our trusted IT partner. This included a ten-year, more than US$5 million project, where SITA deployed a number of different solutions across the airport.

They include the Airport Operational Data Base (AODB), Resource Management System (RMS) and Flight Information Display Systems (FIDS). Key to the transformation project was the integration of SITA’s systems with SAP as part of ERP standardization and consolidation.

About Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport

Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (ISG) International Airport is the second biggest airport in Istanbul, Turkey. The new terminal building was opened on 31 October 2009 with an annual capacity of 25 million passengers.

The airport has been the world’s fastest growing airport in five of the last six years, and in 2014 was the 18th biggest airport in Europe according to ACI.

Learn more about ISG

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