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American Airlines BI Systems

American Airlines is the world's largest carrier. In an effort to increase revenue by reducing fraudulent ticket processing, the airline needed a way to quickly and efficiently query their data warehouse.

Fast ad hoc inquiries helped expose fraudulent ticketing, saving about $5 million in five years. In addition, the new data warehouse significantly reduced storage space needed for data hosting.


Business Problem

American Airlines, together with its regional carriers American Eagle and American Connection, serve more than 250 cities in 41 countries with 1,100 airplanes. This equates to about 4,400 daily flights and 125 million transportation documents per year.

The sheer volume of data created by ticket documents demands an efficient system that will provide continuous ticket transaction data to ensure profitability on ticket sales.

In addition to profitability management, revenue assurance is a major requirement. Fraud and other incidents of incorrect revenue flow can only be detected using a BI system that makes it easy for rapid query and analysis of large amounts of data.

The aim was to achieve these business requirements, without significant expansion of storage. Some data warehouse technologies expand the amount of required storage by five to ten times after indexing - forcing cusotmers to purchase additional, expensive terabytes of storage.

The Sybase solution met the needs of the airline, returning ad hoc query results in minutes compared to some BI solutions that took hours. In some cases, Sybase IQ was consistently 10 times faster than the other two BI solutions considered.


BI Solution

The solution deployed included Sybase DW Technology and Sybase IQ Multiplex. The total data warehouse solution was dubbed RADAR (Revenue Account Data Access Resource).

  • Sybase IQ Multiplex - integrated with other data warehouse technologies to provide a scalable solution.
  • Sun Microsystems - server and storage hardware
  • Computer Associates - implementation partner to deploy its front-end, report-generation software.


Business Results

Using the RADAR system, American Airlines can now:

  • Detect fraudulent ticket-processing
  • Track ticket sales correctly
  • Ensure proper revenue flow

Faster queries leading to more in-depth analysis being done. Sybase IQ stores about 13 months of data, supporting historical reports over longer time periods.


Upfront savings - from using a vendor BI solution compared to custom development amounted to about $250,000.

Data Storage Savings - Sybase IQ reduced the amount of storage American Airlines needs for the data warehouse to around 600GB, through IQ’s compression and column-indexing technologies. This compares to the previous two terabytes.

Ongoing savings - have exceeded the projected $150K per year, with savings of around $5 million over the past five years. This was driven by fraud detection not previously identified and the ability to implement appropriate measures to eliminate the causes.

User adoption has grown rapidly.

The impact of IQ Multiplex solution on customers has been through lower ticket pricing. By being able to detect ticketing errors and improving cash flow, ticket prices can be kept lower.

The solution has been a win for both the business and its customers.

Next: Case Study - Austrian Airlines

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