Migration to local PSS gives greater flexibility to Aeroflot

Migration into Russian passenger service systems is a major milestone in ensuring sovereignty of Russia’s air transport industry

Aeroflot migrates to local CRS and PSS

In order to meet Russian government’s requirements, all of the country’s carriers completed their migration into domestically-developed passenger service systems (PSS) and airline computer reservation systems (CRS) on November 1, 2022.

PSS and CRS cater for essential operational processes in an airline, including reservation and sales of airline tickets and ancillary services, ticketing, passenger check-in, storing data on schedules, capacities, rates and so on.

With wide-spread economic sanctions in effect, migration into Russian systems became a vital step in the strategy of ensuring sovereignty of Russia’s air transport industry. “Today all Russian airlines are using local reservation systems and are not exposed to the threats of unilateral contract cancellations by foreign providers. All settlements within the system are done in roubles”, – Russia’s deputy transport minister Dmitry Bakanov acknowledged. He also emphasized that Russian-made software guarantees that personal data of domestic passengers will not leak outside the country. The migration was completed on extremely short notice, or without any notice from foreign providers, some of which also refused to support their Russian clients with master data.

Such unilateral breakdown, which threatened to cause a major disruption to airline operations, in reality only fostered the migration, but did not catch the Russian industry off guard. Preparations for the transition had begun in 2021 led by a dedicated commission of the transport ministry jointly with the country’s ministry for digital development, connectivity and mass communications, airlines and software developers. Data security was the top priority for effort. The government instructed that the personal data of Russian passengers and crew members be stored on servers inside Russia, and that all relevant systems be operated solely by Russian residents.

Aeroflot Group’s transition into Leonardo PSS

For all its airline subsidiaries Aeroflot Group selected Leonardo suite, developed by Sirena-Travel jointly with Rostec. Rossiya Airlines’ previously had its charter flights already hosted in Leonardo. Low-cost division Pobeda Airlines made the move o June 1. Rossiya’s scheduled operations and Aeroflot itself started using Leonardo on October 29. The migration was thoroughly supported by both Sirena-Travel (Russia’s leading software developer for transport industry) and RT-Transcom (Rostec’s center of competence for IT). The mission was completed within record-breaking time limits and with the highest level of operational stability.

“This transition was extremely time critical,” admits Aeroflot’s deputy director for IT Anton Matskevich. “For months Aeroflot had been working with RT-Transcom on upgrading the system’s core capabilities to match the requirements, both existing and future, of Russia’s largest airline. At the same time the airline itself trained staff, upgraded its infrastructure and introduced cyber security measures. As a result, the migration was smooth, and throughout the actual transition period we managed to keep operations fully under control, including passenger check-in and schedule.”

Migration from any system into any other system is a complicated process, which is preceded by a period of thorough preparations and familiarization, Sirena-Travel experts explain. This period is what the time required for a deep analysis of the system’s capabilities through the lens of the airline’s needs. This is succeeded by several stages of testing and error rectification. But this year the unprecedented situation left no time for these normal procedures. Pobeda Airlines was the first to face it. “Just several days passed from the moment, when Pobeda was advised by its former provider that the service would be discontinued, until it fully migrated into Sirena-Travel. It was an extremely short notice, which threatened to paralyze operations. But the possible collapse was averted, and there were no losses of data on passengers, reservations or ancillary services. This was our first experience of migrating a low-cost carrier,” Sirena’s spokesman continues.

Rostec’s deputy general director Alexander Nazarov is sure, that months of preparations and joint efforts of the developer, the integrator and the airline laid ground for Aeroflot’s successful migration. “I must point out that we had no support from the previous provider – our engineers had to deal with the data conversions and all other stages of migration independently and under extreme time pressure. It is due to Leonardo’s capabilities to adapt to airline’s individual requirements and its high levels of information security, that the service took over seamlessly preventing any disruption in Russia’s airline industry, when the foreign systems were shut off,”

Leonardo PSS: security, customization, AI

Leonardo PSS today serves 68 airlines, out of which 50 are Russian carriers with combined annual traffic exceeding 45 million passengers. All Leonardo solutions, both integrated and standalone, including inventory, reservation, GDS, CRM, RMS, e-commerce and other modules are not an “emergency response” to the departure of foreign providers. In fact, most customers joined Leonardo in late 2014, when the system became fully operational. Since then it has been developing and growing in all respects, both in Russia and beyond.

“When the system was in the works, we were looking at the industry’s best practices and solutions, that were available on the market. We did not copy foreign systems, but we understood their logic. Some aspects were done differently, in response to the specific needs of the Russian market,” Sirena-Travel’s spokesman explains. Both international (IATA) standards, and specific Russian requirements were implemented – such as use of Cyrillic alphabet, which is not used by any other system.

Leonardo inventory system is the core of Leonardo PSS. It provides high levels of automation to the tasks and processes it supports, including storage and management of flight schedule, sales management, revalidating passenger tickets for connecting flights and other functions. “The main purpose of the host system is to store airline schedule and distribute it to points of sales of tickets and ancillary services via dedicated channels. It also provides efficient tools for managing commercial loads, that is, adapting the levels of sales to maximize airline revenue,” Sirena explains. The system also provides capabilities for code-share and franchising.

Implementation of AI (artificial intellect) allows the system to “learn”, thus reducing the workload of the user. User interface is designed in a way to be friendly and intuitive – instead of a “green screen” with tables and codes, Leonardo offers a graphic interface, that any user can handle without any additional training in IT. All operations with schedule are done within one screen, which allows any parameters to be changed. “The logic within the host is based on maximum automation, so that the user is free of routine and can concentrate on analytics. This saves time and improves efficiency,” says Sirena.

A definitive characteristic of Leonardo inventory is its flexibility in working with a wide array of business rules, which customize and automate schedule management, flight load and other processes. In other words, “explaining” basic processes to the system initially is what it takes to enable it to make independent solutions further down the road. Alternatively, automation may be reduced, and then the system would send a signal to the user, when a decision has to be made. For example, if a flight is cancelled, the system quickly arranges rebooking, without the user having to indulge in complicated calculations and schemes. Algorithm for redistributing passenger flows is a built-in function. All the user has to do is tell the system, which flight is cancelled.

It is equally important, that the system has a special unit, which registers every process and every input, so that nothing goes unnoticed. On each stage the airline can check, which user is accountable for a specific action. That archive has virtually unlimited depth.

Since inventory is part of PSS, all data links are within the PSS contour, which means all transactions are secure.

Aeroflot Group passengers may rest assured that their personal data is safe, and that the core IT tools used by airlines are efficient and reliable.

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