Airports Use Web-Based Software to Verify & Simplify Airline Billing

Author: 
Jodi Richards
Published in: 
October
2011

 




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Project: Billing Software

Sample Users: Northwest Florida Regional Airport; London (ON) Int'l Airport

System: Aileron Aeronautical Billing Software

Provider: iFids.com

Flight Info: FlightView

Benefits: Third-party verification of airline landing information; integration with accounting systems

When external auditors reviewed the books at Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS), they encouraged the county-owned facility to start verifying the reports it uses to bill airlines for landing fees - reports generated by the carriers themselves.

"They felt we were relying too much on the certification of the airlines as to their landings," explains Jon Morris, administration and finance manager at VPS.

Per the auditors' recommendation, airport officials searched for a way to validate the airlines' reports. When Okaloosa County purchased a license for the use of the Aileron Aeronautical Billing Software for VPS, it became the first U.S. customer for iFids.com, the Canadian company that sells the system.

Aileron is an aeronautical fee and lease management billing system designed to integrate directly with airport accounting systems that generate invoices, reports and notifications.

Because VPS has slightly less than 18,000 operations each year, the airport employs a limited portion of the overall Aileron system. (The Air Force limits the number of annual operations at VPS.) Use of the full system simply didn't make sense for the airport, explains Morris.

VPS also contracts FlightView, Inc. to provide real-time flight information that identifies commercial flights for billing purposes. Aircraft that have been previously identified are stored in the system; aircraft new to VPS are added manually.

Aileron compares the FlightView data to information from the airlines to ensure there are no discrepancies. "It's very simple to cross-check that to the reporting that the airlines give us," Morris explains.

After the airlines' information is verified, it is entered into QuickBooks, and an invoice is produced.

Morris considers the airport's new system an improvement because it provides third-party review of data. "The airlines know what we're doing, so they are much more careful in their reporting," he adds.

Morris also values the web-based nature of Aileron. "We don't have software to worry about locally," he notes.

Improvements in Ontario

The airport authority at London International Airport in Ontario, Canada, has been using Aileron as its billing system since late 2004. Previously, it used a billing system inherited from the airport's former owner, Transport Canada.

"It was outdated, and the company (that developed it) had gone out of business," recalls director of finance and human resources, Janet Carr. "The support consisted of an individual who required a large retainer fee but was unable to guarantee services."

Because Aileron is integrated with London International's accounting system, changes made in either system are easily updated within the other, Carr notes. Improved technical support is another benefit, she adds. With more than 141,000 aircraft movements at the airport in 2010, real-time information was also a welcome change.

The airport also appreciates dealing with a vendor that has ties to the industry. The company that licenses Aileron, iFids.com, is a subsidiary of the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority. "Because Aileron is connected with Thunder Bay Airport, they understand the business and some of the issues that come up," says Carr.

About the only thing the system doesn't do, she notes, is identify tail numbers of aircraft new to the airport: "Then you have to do a little bit of a look-up on your own."

Aileron training was provided when the system was originally installed, and the airport pays an annual retainer for ongoing technical support.

Carr encourages any airport considering an automated billing system to request a demonstration of its capabilities. "Know what you need; know if there are any limitations," she recommends. 

 

Subcategory: 
Operations

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