Seven-years ago, SITA won a €17 million contract to implement an integrated solution for Meridiana Fly. This deal comprised reservations and eTicketing, integration technologies and network communications – and was designed to help keep Italy’s second-largest private carrier and second fastest-growing airline competitive and on-track to manage solid growth.
Italian airline Meridiana Fly has come a long way from its beginnings back in 1964, when its whole fleet consisted of a single twin-propeller 8-seater Beechcraft C-45 aircraft, which shuttled just 186 passengers to and from Sardinia in its first year.
First merged with Eurofly in 2009 and later in 2011 with Air Italy, Meridiana Fly remains the second-largest airline in Italy. It is now called Meridiana Fly-Air Italy Group. It prides itself on its low-fare, high-quality ethos, combining first- rate service with competitive prices. Meridiana Fly – Air Italy serves 34 European destinations with a fleet of 38 aircraft, and carried over 4.5 million passengers last year.
With 85% of flights on time, Meridiana Fly saw turnover grow from US$852 million in 2010 to US$904 million in 2011.
The business issue – and SITA's solution
As a fast-growing airline, focused on delivering quality at a low-fare, Meridiana Fly needed to improve its sales and ticketing structure, which was neither scalable nor fully open – and perhaps most importantly wasn’t compliant with IATA standards.
At the same time, the airline was ready to embrace better, less expensive, and more efficient network communications. This was accomplished by moving away from a pure IP environment and onto a hybrid network, taking advantage of the benefits of using IP VPN in parallel with the Internet, along with smart technologies such as WAN optimization and compression.
Following consultations with Meridiana Fly, SITA recommended implementing a scalable solution, based on its Horizon suite of passenger management services, which would address both the carrier’s applications and communications needs.
SITA implemented this comprehensive solution for Meridiana Fly:
- cost-effective, fully-integrated, Internet-based, IATA-compliant eTicketing – allowed the airline to meet IATA’s goal of 100% eTicketing by the end of 2007;
- integration between SITA’s online reservations application and Meridiana Fly’s own booking engine via the SITA Integration Platform;
- a new passenger Departure Control System (DCS) at all the airports where Meridiana Fly operates, to speed up passenger processing;
- bundled Service Management to limit risk and increasing profitability. This entailed not just the technical solution but also the right people to ensure that stable operations are maintained;
- IP VPN sites in Sardinia with Integrated Traffic Management (ITM)-enabled Juniper boxes, to optimize IP traffic flow and improve application performance.
“We were looking for a single supplier who could meet our goals by providing integration and value added services,” says Giuseppe Gentile, CEO of Meridiana Fly. “We’re therefore very pleased to have SITA as our partner in making us as passenger-friendly as possible through the innovative use of the very latest information technology.”
“SITA’s Horizon portfolio is helping to transform our business,” he continues. “Not only does it reduce our cost base, but it also makes significant improvements in the quality of the on-line booking experience for our customers.”
“We’re very pleased to have SITA as our partner in making Meridiana Fly as passenger-friendly as possible” says Giuseppe Gentile, CEO Meridiana Fly – Air Italy.
“From an applications perspective, we couldn’t be happier,” adds Gianni Perniceni, Meridiana Fly’s Director of Distribution, Ticketing and Web Development. “SITA’s applications are integrated perfectly with our own, and we see the benefits of the implementation on a daily basis.
On the communications networks side, SITA implemented two main sites, Olbia (where the airline’s call center is situated) and Cagliari, in Sardinia, connected to SITA’s main network management and data center in Atlanta. By using ITM and application-fluent networking, with optimization and compression technologies, in combination with the new applications, SITA ensures that the IP VPN is backed up dynamically by the Internet if problems or bandwidth issues occur.
Not long after the cut-over to the new network environment there was a problem with the IP VPN, and although this lasted for a while, nobody within Meridiana Fly – or any of its customers – noticed, as the offload of network traffic to the Internet was completely seamless; as was the cut back to IP VPN once the problem was fixed.
“Six months down the line, we were seriously impressed with SITA’s network performance,” says Dino Zuin, CIO of Meridiana Fly. “It allowed us to use bandwidth in a really efficient manner – achieving 85% compression rates on the main links – and service our users and customers better than ever before.”
“From an applications perspective, we couldn’t be happier. We see the benefits of the implementation on a daily basis,” says Gianni Perniceni, Meridiana Fly.
By partnering with SITA and implementing state-of-the-art solutions for reservations, eTicketing, DCS and network communications technologies, Meridiana Fly benefits from:
- scalable eTicketing and booking capabilities which have already proven their worth with both consumers and third parties, including travel agents;
- an optimized customer experience, compliant with all IATA standards and offering the airline the option of allowing additional airlines to join;
- improved distribution and business transformation, through offering multiple channels to market while achieving significant cost reductions through more extensive use of passenger self-service;
- optimized IP traffic flow, with network data offloaded onto the Internet when necessary, and traffic compressed at 85% over the main network links.
“We’re pleased to have been able to deliver a targeted, tailored solution to Meridiana Fly,” says Dave Bakker, SITA’s President, Europe. “Our unique combination of innovative applications and smart network communications technologies is helping Meridiana Fly to remain competitive for years to come.”
“We’re seriously impressed with SITA achieving 85% compression rates over our main data links,” says Dino Zuin, Meridiana Fly.
For more information on Meridiana Fly visit www.meridiana.it