Mark Lewsey, Marketing Director of Amadeus, Gives ITN an Exclusive on BA`s Mass Migration

During the early hours of Sunday, 28th Feb, 300 staff from British Airways managed the migration of 2.5 million bookings from BA`s system, BABS, to the Amadeus core system. This is the biggest migration, to date, that Amadeus has undertaken.

Founded in 1987, Amadeus
is headquartered in Spain. The company has over 4000 employees worldwide. As a leading global distribution system and technology provider`s system, Amadeus serves the needs of the world travel and tourism industries. It`s comprehensive data network and database is amongst the largest of their kind in Europe.

British Airways selected Amadeus to enter into a strategic IT partnership two years ago
, following seven months of detailed study and evaluation. The replacement of BA`s sales system last week has been planned since the partnership was initiated. Mark Lewsey, Marketing Director speaks to ITN about this migration.

I asked Mark why BA chose Amadeus 2 years ago. Mark`s response to this question was that “At this time, Mike Thorne the General Manager of Amadeus Implementation was involved in the project very heavily. We asked the question, why choose Amadeus? His reply was: “Because Amadeus is an expert in providing technology and global marketing solutions to the travel trade.

BA`s own system can trace its roots back to the 1960s whereas Amadeus`s system is only ten years old. We celebrate our 10th birthday in 2002, so in technological terms, that means we have a newer and a more advanced system. The application that the technology is built upon, is world-leading and it therefore enables BA to really adopt and benefit from the use of our technology”.


He added “BA wants to concentrate on their core business and to outsource specialist areas to experts - so us. We are in two hundred markets worldwide. Through us, not only can you book air, you can book rail, cruise, ferry, insurance, tour operations and we already handle 60% of BA bookings through the European travel trade”.

The migration from BABS to Amadeus
involved shutting down the majority of BA`s key systems for more than four hours before forty-eight thousand, one hundred and ninety terminals and two hundred system links were reconnected. Two and a half million Passenger Name or booking Records were transferred from BABS to Amadeus, totalling one thousand five hundred gigabytes of data over the migration period.

Mark commented “That is what the year and a half of development and project planning was for; to migrate the bookings. To migrate all their terminals and ticket printers. All of BA`s staff (thirteen and a half thousand employees) have been trained, in preparation for this. There were over fifty major systems, not just BA`s BABS, but interfaced with BABS, so we had to make sure that worked as well.

“We have had over three hundred people working on this and it has been planned for over a year and a half. That is the equivalent of over 180 man-years. When you have got that type of task force working day in day out, you`ve got to make sure it works. It really went smoothly. We are absolutely delighted with the result”.

This new system has replaced British Airways Booking System (BABS) which has been used by the airline for more than 30 years. Paul Coby, Chief Information Officer for British Airways, said in a recent statement: “BABS has served the airline well but Amadeus will give us the cutting edge functionality and the opportunity to offer increased levels of customer service”.

This is clearly a giant step for BA. Mark commented that “In order to keep up with competitors and to progress, BABS needed a complete overhaul”. He added “It could be compared to a classic car. There comes a time when you have to say goodbye and BA say a fond farewell to BABS”.

The Introduction of the Amadeus sales system is the third of five
milestones in a strategic partnership between the airline and Amadeus
announced in August 2000. The partnership has already seen Amadeus
successfully take over the management of many British Airways` systems in
London and transfer them to the Amadeus data centre in Germany. In addition,
British Airways` fare quote system, which allows sales agents to price
itineraries, has also been transferred from Galileo to Amadeus.  British
Airways and Qantas will continue to work with Amadeus, to develop a New
Generation of world-class airline systems for departure control, inventory
and related information systems - the final phase of the partnership. This
is expected to be fully available from 2004.

Mark commented “We expect the final phase to be ready by 2004. We will then be able to offer a total solution to the airline customers. Not only can we offer Amadeus as a reservation and sales tool, but we can also offer departure control and inventory management, which is pretty huge”.

This has been Amadeus`s largest migration yet, but could be the first of many large operations. Qantas
are due to migrate in September of this year and BMI
have also recently signed with Amadeus.

Following last weeks announcements regarding BA`s future size and shape project
, Mark commented that “This in no way affects our partnership with BA. Amadeus could be classed as the future size and shape because the partnership enables BA to concentrate on their core business and not on other related industries that they are not experts in”.