Air Serv, the ground services provider that manages assistance for passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) at Heathrow Airport, has announced an industry-first at the Ground Handling International Conference in Vienna. The company, which is the global leader in the provision of PRM services, is the first to implement SITA PRM data access services. This service feeds special service requests (SSRs) coming from more than 90 airlines to Air Serv’s performance management system ensuring passengers with reduced mobility get the best attention at Heathrow.

Air Serv receives around 3,000 messages daily, each containing multiple requests for special assistance for passengers with reduced mobility departing from, or arriving at, Heathrow. Traditionally, these SSRs come from different sources and in different formats requiring considerable processing to identify the action required and to integrate the information into proprietary back-end systems. By using SITA’s PRM data access service, all this has been streamlined. The SSRs are paired with live flight data feeds from another source in Air Serv’s dispatching system (ADS) allowing Air Serv to provide the highest possible level of consumer service.

Adam Taylor, VP of performance management, Air Serv, said: “Prior to receiving the feed of SSRs from SITA, we integrated our proprietary technology, the Air Serv dispatch system (ADS), with each carrier’s data feed directly. But now, we can go to a single source for passenger data which streamlines our overhead requirements to operate our system.

“SITA’s implementation took only a few weeks and we have already seen the benefits in our service delivery at Heathrow.”

SITA receives the electronic messages containing the SSRs from the requester, identifies the relevant information, strips out the irrelevant information and provides the necessary PRM notification in a standard XML (extensible markup language) based format to the ground handler. In this way, SITA’s Type X messaging service allows easy integration of operational messages into technology such as wireless handheld devices.

Thanks to its central community role SITA, with a single connection, enabled Air Serv to connect with all its customers and business partners using Type X, the latest industry messaging standard. SITA’s messaging service also ensures interoperability with the majority of air transport industry players that are still relying on traditional data exchange protocols and have yet to embrace XML standards.

Dominique El Bez, director, message solutions, SITA, said: “Air Serv’s adoption of this technology highlights how Type X services add significant value by being closely integrated into business processes. It demonstrates how the delivery of services to passengers throughout their journey can be improved by having the right information at the right time.

“SITA is a leader in the provision of air transport industry community messaging solutions and continues to be dedicated to the development of more advanced and cost-effective electronic data exchange services for the industry.”

Air Serv and International RAM Associates (IRAM – a division of Air Serv) provide PRM operations, aircraft appearance, fixed route shuttle operations, security services, customer service ground handling, skycap and baggage handling, and janitorial services for carriers at airports. They serve over 50 airports, including 27 of the top 40 markets in the US and 12 of the top 30 airports worldwide.