New systems have dramatic impact on airport and airline operations
When Frances O’Brien left Ryanair to join daa, the company that oversees Dublin Airport, she recognised that the airport faced a few challenges. O’Brien, VP PMO at daa, knew that dramatic passenger growth was resulting in longer check-in queues for airlines. She also recognised that introducing self-service kiosks and bag drops at the airport would make an enormous difference. So, in conjunction with Rockwell Collins, that’s exactly what the airport did.
Dublin Airport had already successfully implemented Rockwell Collins’ ARINC vMUSE™ common-use passenger processing system in 2015. “We worked with Rockwell Collins to implement systems that enable our airlines to share workstations, helping us make the best use of our current resources,” said O’Brien. “As we embarked on this new initiative, our existing relationship plus Rockwell Collins’ extensive industry expertise made them the right partner for us.”
A rapid implementation with no disruption to operations
For the initial implementation, the airport worked primarily with its two biggest carriers, Ryanair and Aer Lingus, with Flybe and CityJet also participating.
The project was planned to run in two phases. The first phase, involving 19 units, ran from December 2015 through March 2016 and was designed to prove that self-service bag drop would deliver sufficient benefits to proceed to a larger scale deployment. The second phase, which increased the number of units to 64, took place over five working days at the end of May 2016. “From our perspective, once we engaged Rockwell Collins to deliver the platform, it was a painless process,” said O’Brien. “There were absolutely no disruptions to our – or our customers’ – operations. The level of service from Rockwell Collins in the deployment of these kiosks was exceptional.”
Terminal 1, home to Ryanair, now has 20 self-service bag drop units. These units use a one-step approach, allowing passengers who have checked in online to take their bags directly to a bag drop unit where they can print and tag their luggage. The bag is then dispatched straight into the baggage system.
In Terminal 2, the airport now has 32 self-service kiosks and 12 bag drop units in the Aer Lingus check-in area. The bag drop units in Terminal 2 are the world’s first touchless bag drops, employing a two-step approach. Passengers first use their reference number to print a boarding card and/or weigh their bag and print a tag. Once tagged, the luggage is taken to the self-service kiosk and the bag is automatically dispatched.
Airline and airport both benefit from self-service implementation
The benefits of the new implementation are having a major impact on both the airline and airport. “I’m pleased to say our passengers have embraced the technology and the airlines are reporting fantastic results,” notes O’Brien.
Jim Rogers, project manager for the Aer Lingus bag tag and drop off project, agrees. “The reaction from our guests has been extremely and overwhelmingly positive.”
At Aer Lingus, the transaction time at the desk is now three to four times faster than it would be at an agent’s desk, so the airport floor is clear and there are no queues. “Some of our guests have told us that this technology is a key differentiator on whether they would fly with Aer Lingus again.”
And the benefits go beyond the airline’s guests’ experience. “Our fleet size is increasing by about 10 percent this year,” continues Rogers, “and this type of technology allows us to increase throughput without capital expenditure on building and facilities.”
The new implementation is also having a significant impact on the airport. The kiosks are capable of taking payments. “We see self-service as a platform that we can use to sell our own services, like lounge access or our FastTrack passenger program where passengers can purchase access to shorter queues in security,” notes daa’s O’Brien. “The technology also gets passengers through to security and to retail much faster, which obviously gives them the opportunity to spend more time in our award-winning retail areas.”
The technology is also improving customer satisfaction. Because the solutions are self-service, agents that were typically working behind a check-in desk are now able to provide additional assistance to passengers. “Our staff are able to troubleshoot any issues, resulting in a higher quality of service,” highlights Rogers.
The results are in – and they’re impressive
Finbarr Ring, Airport Systems sales director for Rockwell Collins in Europe, Middle East and Africa is helping the airport quantify the results. “Since the initial deployment, the airport has been processing about 3,000 bags a day through the new service with up to 80 percent of an airline’s bags injected via bag drop. We’ve managed over that time to reduce the passenger check in process by approximately 60 percent. Passengers have responded very positively, with many taking the time to post how much they enjoyed their experience on social media.”
A key feature of the system is that it provides full common use support so that passengers from any airline can drop their bags at a convenient location. This provides maximum flexibility for both airlines and airport at a lower cost.
The future looks bright for self-service – and more
While only part of the airport is currently set up for self- service, “I can imagine that other airlines operating out of Dublin Airport, once they see this technology working successfully, will want to join in,” notes O’Brien. “We already have several airlines lined up to adopt the technology in the near future. Ultimately, I hope Dublin Airport will end up seeing up to 80 percent of its total passengers over the next three years be able to use self-service.”
Beyond its current success, the platform is positioning the airport for the future. “This technology puts us on a new playing field,” said O’Brien. “It’s adaptable so eventually we can, for example, roll out a biometric solution on top of this – which will again ease the process for passengers, airlines and the airport.”
Being able to deliver a better service is all part of the strategy at Dublin Airport – and Rockwell Collins is a key partner. “It’s all about providing choice for our passengers, for providing leading technology and I really feel the airport is in a very good place for future growth,” said O’Brien.
We couldn’t agree more.