Vodafone Ireland has agreed a new partnership with Ryanair which will see it providing 95 per cent of the airline's telecoms, machine to machine technology, and general communications needs across 189 locations in Europe.
The new deal covers everything from check-in right the way through to cockpit information and on-board retail sales.
"The partnership is a game changer for us as it signifies Vodafone Ireland's increased capabilities to provide large scale business with a full complement of communications and IT solutions", says Vodafone Ireland enterprise director Anne Sheehan.
"We will support ticketing, check-in, ground crews, in-flight crews and pilots with telephony, fixed line and mobile 3G and 4G functionality across Ryanair's 189 locations in Europe and North Africa. "
According to Ryanair chief technology officer, John Hurley, the deal will support the airline's "Always Getting Better" improvement programme.
“We’re continuing to enhance the Ryanair experience for our 90 million customers annually. This partnership with Vodafone will provide us with the technical support to allow us to make these improvements quickly and seamlessly, including the introduction of paperless cockpits and a swifter in-flight sales system.”
Part of the initiative is the introduction of the electronic flight bag that will remove paper from the cockpit which is fundamental to Ryanair’s strategy.
In addition, Vodafone will support the on-board electronic point of sale (EPOS) devices used for in-flight credit card sales.
From April, Ryanair crew will be issued with 8,000 new handheld devices with machine to machine connectivity which will create a secure managed connection to synchronise data with credit card companies when the plane lands.
Vodafone’s machine-to-machine (M2M) connects previously isolated machines or devices to the internet, delivering new functionality and enhanced services without the need for human intervention. Vodafone’s global M2M platform makes it easy for businesses to manage M2M deployments across multiple territories from a single location with greater control and at a lower cost than previously possible.
“This business partnership is one of the most significant for Vodafone Ireland to date”, says Sheehan.
“Our ability to provide complete end to end solutions for Ryanair across 189 locations demonstrates our total communications capabilities.
“We have been offering mobile services for many years and this new agreement brings everything together – fixed line communications, mobile, M2M, electronic point of sale. Ryanair is a company that is driving innovative technology solutions in the airline industry and Vodafone is delighted to partner with them to drive this evolution.
“For example, the concept of the paperless cockpit using iPads on the flight deck is very innovative. I am very proud that we are able to do this from Ireland.”
While the new arrangements won’t actually be visible to customers they will certainly feel the benefits.
“It will be a totally seamless experience for customers,” Sheehan explains.
“From the moment they book their flight, through check-in, to making on-board purchases, and making their return trip everything is managed by Vodafone. This is made possible by our reach across Europe and our extensive 4G and 3G networks.”
One of the key advantages the technology can offer an airline like Ryanair is the ability to get up and running in a new airport very quickly and the flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise in the air travel market.
“Having a single provider for communications needs across all of its locations means that an airline can start operating new routes very quickly and easily,” says Sheehan.
“All of the IT and communications requirements to support ticket sales, check-in and so on are managed by the one provider.
This agility can be crucial in today’s highly competitive market. We can offer that from Ireland because of Vodafone’s global reach; this is a huge advantage for us.” According to Sheehan, the Ryanair partnership marks an important milestone for Vodafone as a total solutions provider.
“This is very exciting for us as up until now the management of total solutions like this would have been seen as the preserve of IT rather than telecoms companies.
“This is an indicator of our capability in that space. It also demonstrates our ability to support highly innovative solutions and we will continue to innovate in terms of the services we offer our customers so that they can serve their customers better.”