Rebuilding for growth
Iraqi Airways (IA) has been a significant airline in the Middle East since 1946. Despite war and political turmoil in Iraq, IA has not only managed to survive, but is now experiencing growth. After working with SITA in 2009 to automate its operations, level the playing field with competitors and comply with international standards, IA had 11 aircraft (up from only five in 2006) and carried 450,000 passengers to three domestic and five regional destinations in 2010. By 2015, passenger numbers reached 2.3 million – with 31 aircraft to five domestic and 24 global destinations – and annual growth is now about 15%.
Since the beginning of its operation and during hard times, SITA has been supporting IA’s infrastructure and airport/passenger solutions and is a key consultant and reliable industry partner. This is especially valuable to IA as the airline rebuilds its international business. SITA is well-positioned to help rebuild the air transport sector in Iraq and has worked hand in hand with IA officials to overcome the challenges caused by war. Partnering with SITA provided IA with a reliable infrastructure that allows it to manage its reservations globally and at home from a single reservation center. IA can also accommodate the growing demand from passengers for multi-channel support – including voice, email and chat.
Among IA’s biggest challenges was customer support – particularly outside normal business hours and on weekends/holidays. With no helpdesk or contact center available to passengers during these times, IA was risking high levels of passenger dissatisfaction and long-term alienation. It was also a lost revenue opportunity, since contact centers can serve as indirect sales channels – saving airlines from having to pay commissions to travel agents or global distribution system (GDS) providers.
Passenger satisfaction is a prime objective for all successful airlines. Surveys have found that technology plays a major role in improving the travel experience as does reaching out to passengers in their own language. This project provides IA Passengers with 24/7 contact center services for reservations, ticketing, e-commerce and back office functions.
SITA Contact center services can be provided via voice calls from around the world, email or chat channels and are served by 18 trained SITA agents who can assist passengers in Arabic, English and Kurdish languages. SITA provided a complete outsourcing solution for IA’s contact center activity – including both agents for the contact center and the ability to forward calls from 13 different countries to Jordan where they are answered.
Supported by its partner, Orange Business Services, SITA’s solution includes state-of-the art, cloud-based interactive voice response (IVR) to filter and optimize information prior to routing calls to an agent. It also features a best-practice, multi-channel platform including voice calls via call collection in 13 countries, email and chat media.
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IA’s primary objective was to increase customer and passenger satisfaction by providing around-the- clock support. Passengers can now reach IA staff and resolve any issue they might face during their journey. IA also wanted to expand its indirect sales channels and increase revenues while cutting down on commissions paid to travel agents and GDS providers.
Comprehensive, end-to-end solutions
SITA’s Unified Communications portfolio supported by Orange has allowed IA to consolidate voice, data and audio into one platform while the cloud-based infrastructure delivers secure, reliable connectivity which effectively links the airline to its different destinations. With SITA’s global presence in more than 200 countries and territories as well as more than 1,000 airports, it was possible to connect all 13 destinations seamlessly to the central reservations center. Other benefits encompass:
- Improve efficiency and responsiveness: keep costs down, modernize your airport, provide passengers with a connected experience or expand you route.
- Collaboration: Greater, easier and more powerful interactions between employees, customers and partners while improving overall efficiency and responsiveness via audio and video conferencing or data exchange.
- Ease of transition: SITA’s vast knowledge of the air transport industry and access to more than 200 airports makes moving from your legacy infrastructure to a new platform a quick and seamless process – helping you adopt best practices while increasing central control over your network, reducing infrastructure complexity and lowering cost of ownership.
- Cost savings and commercialization: A single point-of-contact saves you time and money by simplifying the procurement process, flexible pay-per-user and usage-based models and new revenue opportunities by offering Unified Communications as a service to airport tenants and other business partners.
Having SITA’s Horizon® Passenger Management & Distribution system already in place, Iraqi Airways was also able to integrate the new center with the airline’s reservation, ticketing, e-commerce, inventory and departure control systems. Using a new-generation graphical interface, agents are quickly and speedily able to make or change bookings.
- Grow and adapt: A defined upgrade and development path to meet current and future needs, Horizon Passenger Management and Distribution enables continuous evolution with modular, flexible and versatile tools, accompanied by SITA’s dedicated expertise.
- Get closer to your customer: Technologies to optimize customer service – including online, kiosk and mobile applications, self-service booking, shopping solutions, merchandising and loyalty programs – and an interface for third-party distribution enabling seamlessness with all partners.
- Distribution neutrality: SITA provides unbiased access to every available channel, including all GDS and agency contact centers, alliance and code share partners – ensuring the most effective channel mix for your airline.
- Other benefits: Reduced service costs and inefficiency, lower distribution costs (leveraging GDS costs), increased speed to market and commercial agility, enabled merchandising of optional services, more personalized offers and optimized profits.
Achieving real impact of its value proposition among customers, maximizing operational efficiency/business performance and optimizing passenger experience is a long-term goal for Iraqi Airways, and Horizon Passenger Solutions will continue to contribute to that success. A key business for any airline, passenger management includes core reservations, inventory, departure control, pricing and ticketing. For Iraqi Airways, this will now be extended to the use of mobile services, revenue management, revenue accounting and a loyalty program through e-commerce and mobile.
SITA solutions provided to Iraqi Airways
- Call collection from all over the world through PSTN lines in 13 countries
- A virtual multi-channel contact center solution embedding voice, email and chat support
- 18 agents business process outsourcing (BPO) with deep experience in airlines contact centers
- PSS SRDT application used by the agents
- IPVPN MCS in Jordan for call termination and access to SITA PSS Host
- FCC Flexible Contact Center: cloud contact center
- Improve CRM efficiency utilizing state-of-the-art technology
- Reach most of IA passengers with three languages: Arabic, Kurdish & English
- Optimize contact center infrastructure
- Transformed contact center from an overhead to a profit center
- Reduced contact center costs
- Reduced complexity and cost of integration one provider one invoice
- Automated agent activities and increase productivity
Success paving the way for future growth
SITA’s excellent relationship with IA cultivated the necessary trust that allowed for the managing and outsourcing of internal processes and responsibilities outside of Iraq. Without a centralized control center, inventory management/audit activities and inventory rules may have been compromised. It is this sort of confidence-building and out-of-the-box thinking that often allows SITA to go beyond the classical approach that our standard solutions can offer. SITA is firmly committed to the ongoing growth of Iraqi Airways and contributing to its great experience and success.
For further information, please contact SITA's Middle East, India & Africa office or visit our airline sector page.
To reach Iraqi Airways Contact Center, visit their contact page.
Orange Business Services
You can also learn more about Orange Business Services (OBS) Contact Center Access and Flexible Contact Center.
Support from OBS
- 13 call collect numbers
- Flexible Contact Center, a 100% cloud-based multi-channel contact center solution – voice calls, email, chat media and voice recording
- Business VPN VoIP termination
- A complete portfolio of value-added services: Design, PM, service provisioning, BVPN installation, on-site training, CSM, fully-managed RUN model and more