New systems and outsourcing give BMI e-ticket to lower costs

Airline BMI will this week finish rolling out a new electronic ticket purchasing and payment system.

Airline BMI will this week finish rolling out a new electronic ticket purchasing and payment system.

The conclusion of the eight- month project will help the airline to meet challenging targets for adopting electronic processes. Like companies in other sectors, the airline is trying to boost customer self-service as a way of driving down costs.

BMI plans to drive e-ticket volumes up from 63% to 100 % by the end of next year.

It also plans to push up online sales from 38% to 54% by mid-2006 and boost customer self-service from 30% of passengers to 64% by the end of 2006.

By the end of this year, BMI will allow customers to check in over the web. It is also preparing for customers to buy their tickets through smartphones and Blackberry devices.

Over the past four years, BMI has cut its IT spend by more than 30% through a major systems overhaul and outsourcing programme. BMI group IT director Richard Dawson said overhauling the IT department was essential for the firm to recover from the impact on the airline industry of the World Trade Center attacks.

The IT department has shrunk from 128 people to 20, with third-party service providers running core IT systems.

BMI has swapped its mainframe for a client-server architecture, and now runs Windows Datacentre Server 2003, and Oracle Financials and Procurement. This is hosted and maintained by Oracle, and Fujitsu Siemens provides infrastructure support and business systems maintenance.

It replaced its core financial systems last October and a third party now scans all invoices, and integrates them into Oracle, removing the need for BMI to handle any paper invoices. BMI has also adopted a web-based expense tool, making more savings.

Many of the core systems, such as reservation and check-in, are owned by BMI but run by Star Alliance partner Lufthansa.

Outsourcing had brought some problems, said Dawson. At least one relationship had not work out as BMI hoped. "When you work with a third-party supplier, you have got greater control and high quality, but it takes a lot longer to do things because you have to go through a process," he said. "I would like to see the same quality, but with more speed."

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