In all the years I have been in the air transport industry, I have never experienced anything as dramatic as the events over the past few weeks. The impact on the way airlines and airports operate has been immense.
One way in which we are supporting our customers during this period is through the accelerated delivery of network upgrades, providing airlines and airports the increased bandwidth they need to enable entire teams to work from home.
On the evening of March 17, a major European airline asked for a bandwidth upgrade to enable its entire contact center (300 agents) to work from home. At a time where airlines’ call centers are receiving thousands of calls per day, the contracted lead time to deliver—currently set at 14 days—had to be accelerated. Working with our partner, Orange Business Services (OBS), we were tasked with redefining our current processes to fit with this urgent timeline.
In this instance, the airline had its upgrade implemented in the early morning of March 19, thanks to an agreement that started the technical work immediately once the upgrade request was submitted. The fast-track delivery of these upgrades was made possible by our relationship with OBS. Both SITA and OBS have put in place a single point of contact so we can move fast to ensure that we immediately manage requests.
This request was just the first of many we have received over the past two weeks. In all, we have received 25 customer requests around the world for bandwidth upgrades. This is has kept us extremely busy.
To enable our team to do its best work, we’ve had to apply these same urgent upgrades across the SITA network. Teams that would normally be working out of our Dublin, Bohemia, Montreal, Geneva, Atlanta, Singapore, Royal Pavilion, London Gate, and Delhi offices are now remote-based, and they all received the necessary upgrades within 24 to 36 hours.
The speeding up of processes to enable our colleagues and customers to work from home has made me consider how our team has adapted to this new remote lifestyle. In these initial weeks, the usual entry and exit points to your day have been somewhat blurry, as work pushes on throughout the evenings and weekends. While we’ve shown great commitment to maintaining our level of customer service, it has been tough not having that immediate interaction with the team.
While SITA offers accelerated upgrades for airports as a core offering, applying this process for airlines is an entirely new experience. But by redefining an existing model and working with our business partners to provide airlines the bandwidth they need, we are making sure that the air transport industry continues to operate. That makes my team and I really proud.