Turkish low-cost carrier (LCC) Pegasus Airlines is doing much to continually improve its customers’ experience, and this has included upgrading its ground handling operations. Vice president of ground operations Murat Demirbilek explains how
How are you using the latest technology to improve your ground operations?
We have begun to use the Internet of Things (IoT) in the application of our apron equipment. Improvements have been made in the following areas:
- We have digitalised and automated maintenance data relating to apron equipment. All maintenance can be carried out systematically and on schedule, without requiring staff tracking, and we are immediately made aware of any breakdowns
- We monitor the fuel consumption of all airside vehicles. This has helped us to combat unnecessary fuel consumption
- We have begun to audit the use of equipment, a process that has resulted in a 60% reduction in airside accidents
Has Pegasus developed new relationships with its ground handler partners in recent times?
We monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) for all operations in real time via our dashboard and share all our operational performance statistics with ground operations companies.
And, yes, we have restructured our service level agreements (SLAs) with all of our ground operations companies. We control areas such as on-time performance (OTP), flight safety, guest satisfaction and immigration issues through a high bonus and penalty method [vis-à-vis the handlers].
In this way, we have established a system based on self-regulation and reporting by ground operations, rather than centralised control.
Have these various steps resulted in improved OTP and customer satisfaction and have the changes made over the last six or so months altered your airside operations to a significant extent?
They have had a very positive impact. Our work processes have been simplified and our staff management and ground operations have become more efficient. We now have an OTP of over 99% for our ground operations.
Overall, OTP has increased by 6%.
What other plans for further improvements to airside operations does Pegasus have?
We are completely redeveloping our future-planning infrastructure. This will give us more active control over our efficiency going forward. And, we want to interconnect all airside procedures in order to control the entire OTP process. We want to implement these changes at all the airports at which we operate.
What will all of this mean for you and your customers?
Ground handling is an integral part of airline operations, and efficiency and responsiveness are important aspects of ground handling operations. Our OTP in ground handling operations is 99.7%. Also [assisted by the changes described below], we have witnessed a considerable increase in check-in and boarding satisfaction.
We will implement our New Generation Self Bag Drop system as soon as possible, which we consider will be a first for Turkey and the wider region. This will allow our guests to perform all counter procedures simply and independently.
This system has been manufactured in Turkey, with the design of both hardware and software carried out by Pegasus Airlines.
Has Pegasus also begun offering electronic ID cards instead of boarding cards, and sending gate details to passengers by SMS?
Yes, we issue boarding cards at check-in. But now our guests have started to use their identity cards in place of boarding cards, and guests can progress from check-in to boarding using only their own identity cards. When our guests arrive at the airport, we send them SMS messages informing them of their gate number, boarding time, any changes in gate number and the number of the carousel from which they can collect their luggage on arrival at their destination.
In addition, we also notify them of the carousel number for baggage collection when they board buses at their destination airport.
Have you made any other changes as a result of greater digitisation?
Yes, several. We have, for example, developed a joint programme aimed at managing counter workloads in conjunction with a university. This generates simulations of when passengers will approach our counters and we organise our counter and staff planning accordingly. This helps us to eliminate long queues at our counters.
Elsewhere, we have started to measure the conduct of all staff towards our guests. This provides us with Net Promoter Scores [NPS] for each of our personnel, allowing us to control our staff’s approach to our guests and to measure satisfaction in real time.
Plus, we have developed a mobile system that can be used by all ground operations staff and our suppliers. All information relating to operations is immediately, rapidly and accurately accessible, and any changes are notified without losing time.
Has Pegasus already made some improvements in regard to managing the baggage handling process?
We reviewed the entire baggage handling process, from bag drop to collection, and took control of it. As a result, we were able to pinpoint problem areas, and have managed to reduce damage and loss of baggage to a figure of 1.8/1,000 (whereas the European average is 4.5/1,000).
This is a significant achievement for an airline like Pegasus, with its high number of transfer passengers and also codeshare and interline passengers.
We visited many airports that we operate to and managed to improve their chute areas. We also established a 24/7 call-centre available to help guests who experience a problem with their baggage and, in the near future, we hope to increase efficiency and thereby customer satisfaction through the use of robotic processes.