Athens International Airport was one of the first international airports to offer passengers the ability to wirelessly access the Internet through laptops, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or Internet kiosks anywhere within the main terminal building. With Cisco wireless technology and advanced applications, such as IP telephony, running over a high-availability converged network, the airport has increased operational efficiency, reduced costs, improved on-site security, and can now offer innovative, valuable services.
Athens International Airport
Distinguished by the International Air Transport Association as one of the best airports in the world for passenger satisfaction in its first three years of operation, the new Athens International Airport (AIA) moves nearly 14 million travelers, thousands of aircraft, and thousands of tons of cargo through its facility every year. Athens International Airport S.A. is a privately managed company, with the Greek state holding 55 percent of shares, while private shareholders collectively hold 45 percent (HOCHTIEF AirPort GmbH 26.545 percent, HOCHTIEF AirPort Capital GmbH 13.33 percent, Horizon Air Investments S.A. 5 percent, and Flughafen Athen-Spata Projektgesellschaft GmbH [FASP] 0.125 percent).
In 2003, AIA was awarded the "Recognized for Excellence" award from the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), acknowledging business excellence and quality of service (QoS) of its IT and telecommunications department. In March 2002, AIA received EFQM's "Committed to Excellence" distinction in recognition of the company's commitment to business excellence.
Further demonstrating its dedication to using advanced technology as a business enabler, AIA participates in a number of European-funded research projects in the Information Society Technology Programme, and nationally funded projects under the Third Framework Package (Enosis).
"We are an innovative company whose primary goal is continuous improvement for our customers through the optimization of aviation activities and products, management of airport infrastructure, and added value services to our passengers, tenants, and employees," says Fotis Karonis, AIA's director for Information Technology and Telecommunications.
AIA's initial vision was to develop valuable services for its passengers and onsite businesses by designing a flexible airport that uses advanced technology to increase operational effectiveness, improve safety, and provide wireless services to airport travelers, employees, and customers.
"We also needed to meet the demands of the influx of travelers who would be visiting the city for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens," Fotis Karonis says.
To accomplish this vision, AIA wanted to implement a highly available network that would help ensure fast, secure access to mission-critical business applications using advanced technologies from Cisco Systems®.
The Cisco® account team met with AIA and demonstrated how the Cisco Intelligent Airport solution-a scalable, flexible, open-architecture solution based on a converged IP network-would help the airport reduce costs, enhance productivity, and provide additional services.
"Cisco showed us how we could materialize our vision of providing high-availability service with quick scalability, and delivery of information on a 24-hour basis," Fotis Karonis says. "We are maximizing our existing investments by bringing together the worlds of data communications and telecommunications."
"It was important to us that we first address network stability, flexibility, and redundancy," says Anastasios Alefantos, manager, Information Technology and Telecommunications Customer Services and Operations for AIA. "This would give us the ability to expand in a modular way as our business expands, and provide new and innovative services to our customers."
Accessible through both a wireless hotspot and an internal LAN, the Cisco wireless solution enables advanced applications that allow airport customers to capture feed from AIA's antenna flight scheduling system and display it on IP phone screens, eliminating the use of PCs and reducing cost. Another advanced application allows airport security personnel to enter a user ID on an IP Phone or PDA to access an image of that user. AIA uses open Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) architecture and interfaces, such as Telephony Application Program Interface (TAPI), Java TAPI (JTAPI), and Extensible Markup Language (XML), offered by the Cisco IP telephony solution to develop new advanced IP phone services in a very timely and cost-effective way to cover critical business needs.
Currently, the airport has installed over 100 Cisco Aironet® 1200 Series wireless access points, which provide coverage both inside and outside the main terminal, as well as Cisco 7970 Color IP phones, 7960 and 7920 IP phones, and Cisco IP Communicator for laptop users.
The new common-use infrastructure facilitates advanced services and provides immediate access to real-time information across the entire airport. The integration of voice and data services reduces AIA's costs, optimizes its existing resources, and consolidates its investments, making it the most cost-effective, secure solution for the airport, its 300 onsite tenant companies, and its almost 14 million annual passengers.
"We are one of the few airports that haven't had any problems from the first day we opened for business," says Leonidas Daravelis, manager, Telecommunications and Systems Integration for AIA. "We have been very successful and have shown proven results. That is due in part to the excellent cooperation we have had with Cisco."
AIA was one of the first international airports to offer its passengers wireless Internet access through laptops, PDAs, and Internet kiosks located throughout the main terminal building. Today AIA is also one of the first airports in the world to offer innovative, valuable IP telephony services to its customers and passengers.
Among the newly introduced passenger services is the "smart bus-stop" service, available in the airport's long- and short-term parking. A screen located at the bus stop advises passengers of the estimated wait time for the next bus. In addition, several new flat LCD monitors were installed in various indoor and outdoor locations to provide real-time flight information, guidance, and dynamic signage. AIA will also be one of the first airports to implement common-use, self-service, check-in kiosks for multiple airlines, reducing the queuing time during passenger check-in. Each of these new services will assist passengers as they enter and navigate the airport, helping to make their experience at AIA a positive one.
The Cisco Intelligent Airport solution has helped to enhance AIA's ability to promote business intelligence through state-of-the-art solutions across its enterprise. "Airports are time driven and the precision of this job is what makes an airport competitive," Fotis Karonis says. "It's a 24-hour operation and our people must be able to deliver answers, services, and security from anywhere within the airport. Cisco has enabled us to realize this vision through high network availability, quick scalability, and real-time delivery of information and knowledge."
Using Web-based technology, the Cisco solution elevates the value of information to passengers; provides secure access to critical business information to its employees, tenants, and other e-business partners; and facilitates the opportunity to earn incremental revenue.
"AIA uses IT as a revenue-generating tool by providing connectivity services and applications to the airport community," Fotis Karonis says. "This maximizes the return on investment (ROI) we have achieved from our infrastructure. At least 300 companies operate at AIA and we can provide all of them with an integrated solution to meet their needs. At the same time, we are expanding our portfolio of offered services outside the Airport, by implementing new projects and services for other airports and other third-party customers."
Flight Scheduling Display on Cisco IP Phone
AIA is currently expanding its outdoor wireless coverage to allow its aircraft parking staff to monitor any aircraft entering or leaving its parking position through their mobile devices. In addition, AIA is transforming many traditional services, such as logistics update and data/video transfer, to a wireless base.
"We are happy about our decision to work with Cisco," Anastasios Alefantos says. "The network is stable and gives us the flexibility to focus on other areas where we can grow our business."
This customer story is based on information provided by Athens International Airport and describes how that particular organization benefits from the deployment of Cisco products. Many factors may have contributed to the results and benefits described; Cisco does not guarantee comparable results elsewhere.
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