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Route diversity keeps Aer Lingus network flying.

Communications and information systems are part of Aer Lingus' competitive strategy.

Communications links are the key to delivery of a wide variety of airline services from inquiries and reservations at the sales offices, to check-in at the departure gate, to meals on-board and aircraft maintenance.

Aer Lingus builds reservations not only for itself, but for many other airlines including Kuwait Airways, Qantas, South African Airlines and Mexicana. They also handle cargo communications for Air Jamaica, Guiana and Yugoslovia.

Jim Fullerton, Aer Lingus' communications manager for North America, says, "High-speed data communications is a great time saver and is cost-effective.

"We don't need to think about the cost of an Atlantic phone call any more--the more we use the network, the more cost-effective it becomes," he adds.

Aer Lingus implemented the network of diversely routed national and international leased lines in 1990. It is hubbed from Dublin to their major operating centers in New York and London as well as to many other centers worldwide.

The network carries both voice and data communications over Timeplex multiplexers. The network is a mixture of analog and 64 kb/s digital data circuits.

"Frankly, the 64 kb/s is a joy to work with," Fullerton says. "It's not 100% trouble free--nothing ever is--but it is not nearly the problem that it was."

Until October 1990, Aer Lingus was on strictly analog service with 2400, 4800, up to 14.4 kb/s service.

"We built in as much flexibility as we could," Fullerton says. "That's the main reason for the 64 kb service."

MCI provides full redundancy and route diversity on the local loops to all drops in North America. In addition to the international lines, Telecom Ireland provides a range of services including packet switching, electronic mail, cellular radio and telex.

Aer Lingus' own Astral reservations system is linked with other res and cargo handling systems including Sita, Galileo, Sabre, Covia, SystemOne, Datas and Falcon. Teletype traffic from Sita is routed from its source to Dublin and then re-directed to high-speed printers in New York.

Diversity and resilience are as important to the Aer Lingus network as they are to their mechanical flight operations.

For example, two 64 kb/s trans-Atlantic leased lines take completely separate paths from Ireland to New York. One runs directly from Ireland on the PTAT-1 fiber cable westward from Ireland, while the other is routed on Telecom Ireland's capacity on TAT-8.

Similarly, links to London are routed over two separate fiber systems, the Ireland-UK #1 fiber cable and the PTAT-1 system eastward from Ireland.

If, for any reason, one of these systems is not available, the other can increase its load temporarily.

The trans-Atlantic network terminating in New York City links up to JFK International, Boston's Logan Airport and a city office in Boston where cargo services are handled.

Dedicated dumb terminals handle most of the traffic, although Fullerton notes they do have smart PCs to hook into the mainframe in Dublin.

The entire Aer Lingus network supports 11,000 employees throughout the United Kingdom, North America and Western Europe.

Tom Clarke is the airline's communications manager in Ireland. "If Aer Lingus is to successfully meet the challenges presented by increasing business and competition in the remaining years of this decade and beyond, it will look more for total solutions to its communications needs," he concludes.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Harler, Curt
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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