In March 2020, Toronto Pearson Airport (Greater Toronto Airports Authority; GTAA), the largest and busiest airport in Canada, celebrated winning its third consecutive “Best Airport in North America” award. Before the celebratory cheers could end, however, we saw the airport come to a screeching halt.
Borders were shut down, flights cancelled, and restaurants closed at a rate unparalleled to any other time in modern history. In just four weeks, Pearson reported a 75% decrease in passenger volume with no visible signs of when business will recover.
The cause, of course, is COVID-19
An international airport like Pearson must still function to some capacity because it is an essential service that our country and world depend on each day. Pearson had to manage an orderly shutdown of international traffic and be prepared to continue managing cargo planes that deliver essential supplies like food and medicine across Canada.
GTAA also realized they would have to restrict the number of staff working on-site to ensure their safety. This meant equipping airport staff with the tools needed to work from home (WFH) and ensure they have continued access to business-critical applications without any issues. This in itself was a massive task, but team Wipro stepped up and delivered!
800+ Pearson Airport staff are WFH with ease
WFH was new and uncharted territory for a majority of Pearson’s staff. To assist in the transition, Wipro led the Organizational Change Management (OCM) plan for their 800+ staff members, working in lockstep
with the client to ensure a smooth transition to remote working.
The Wipro team guided users over the phone, manned walk-in support kiosks, walked the floor across locations, trained users on MS teams for collaboration, and enabled soft-phone features, etc., all within an astonishing 48 hours.
- Airport staff are now able to access applications that enable them to manage runways, baggage carousels, and gate assignments in a secure mode.
- Border control kiosks have been enhanced with a COVID-19 questionnaire and a system that displays and informs passengers and staff of precautionary measures and information.
- Some critical systems have been redesigned and implemented to better enable WFH.
- Wipro modified a pre-existing in-progress project that had different objectives and would have taken approximately two months to complete. In a record two days, we were able to modify it to deliver and improve Pearson’s WFH infrastructure.
Read more here (press note published by customer):
“These are unprecedented times for any industry and especially for us in the aviation industry. Being a transit hub, not just for people but also for critical cargo, Toronto Pearson plays a key and central role in keeping Canada moving during this time of crisis. The people of GTAA and our partners have stood strong together and continue to do so. Technology teams play a significant role in keeping Pearson’s operations functioning through these challenging times. At the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, in a matter of a couple of days, with our technology and digital partner Wipro, we enabled over 800+ airport personnel to work from home and access critical applications, so we could continue to manage runways, baggage carousels and gate assignments in a secure mode without disrupting flight schedules. A remarkable response to an unprecedented challenge.” -Glenn Evitt, Director, IT Services and Architecture, GTAA
Additional amazing accomplishments by our team:
- Although passenger traffic was reduced by 75%, our call volumes increased by 50% and the number of cybersecurity threats increased significantly. We raced through thousands of tickets in one week to ensure both users and their systems were safely home.
- Border control kiosks have been enhanced with additional questionnaires, as per government direction, to ensure every in-bound passenger provides accurate information regarding COVID-19-related symptoms, whether they came in close contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19, etc., while entering into Canada. This additional information helping Canada Border Services Agency officers and Public Health officers to take corrective measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
- Engaged in mock exercises of IT systems migration to manage business continuity (BCP) in case of a partial or complete terminal shutdown, helping us to determine what it would take to move an airline from one terminal to another terminal, for example, and other related passenger processing systems.
- The design of resource management systems (RMS) was modified and installed, enabling four new systems for remote access to support business (RMU & IOCC) staff and helping them to perform their routine work from home (WFH) during the crisis. Previously, RMS design constraints prevented full remote access to business users.
- As the crisis deepened, the Executive Team held frequent virtual meetings, as did the Board of Directors. Team Wipro provided support and ensured every (virtual) crisis management meeting went successfully.
- As social distancing became a norm, the airport decided it was too risky to keep the staff manning the 24/7 Integrated Operations Control Centre (IOCC) all in one room. As the IOCC split itself, shifting half the staff to a secondary location, Wipro worked overnight to ensure this critical move went smoothly.
- Wipro’s Terminal Services support team (comprising 40 technicians across the two Terminals) demonstrated our passion and client-centricity by being at the forefront and running a full service while the pandemic crisis response resulted in closure of offices, schools, restaurants, shops, and eventually the cities of Toronto and Mississauga.