Air Manas

Kyrgyzstan airline’s goal to bring air travel to all takes off with teamwork supported by Office 365

Since its transformation from a charter airline to a public regional carrier in 2012, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan–based Air Manas has built a reputation as a safe, high-quality, low-cost carrier. Delivering that elusive cross-over point between low cost and high quality requires precise management, highly secure data sharing, and close collaboration. Air Manas achieves those goals with Office 365.

Aviation newcomer Air Manas is pushing Kyrgyzstan’s civil aviation industry forward. One of just eight airlines in the small country, the company began as a tiny charter airline in 2006. In 2012, it became a partner of Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines, transitioning to the public low-cost carrier it is now. Since this transformation, the airline has grown rapidly and undergone massive change. Air Manas depends on teamwork and fast access to secure data to advance its goal of prominence in the Kyrgyzstanian civil aviation space. Underpinning its IT strategy is Microsoft Office 365

”Flying is the right of everyone”

“Flying is the right of everyone” is an Air Manas motto. The company believes that safe, low-cost air travel for the Kyrgyzstani people is a way forward for the nation. With its purchase of a Boeing 737 aircraft, it became the first airline in Kyrgyz Republic aviation history to deploy an airplane of that class. The company has developed its reputation for excellence in Kyrgyzstan. Expansion from a tiny charter operation meant adopting a formal corporate structure, with all the infrastructure that entails. A plethora of diverse operations keep an airline functioning, from aircraft maintenance records and pilot checklists to reservations and marketing. The common thread that keeps the entire organization moving: information. 

A core office team of 40 employees anchors Air Manas administrative functions, including accounting, finance, marketing, and quality and safety. They take advantage of the encompassing range of business applications included in Office 365, using an on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook for email. All Air Manas staff use Microsoft SharePoint Online and OneDrive for cloud-based file sharing and storage, drawing on the flexibility of the hybrid cloud infrastructure deployed by Air Manas. Office staff rely on ubiquitous Office 365 applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote—for much of their work. “We use the Office 365 solution for everything we do,” says Aziz Mirbakiev, IT Manager at Air Manas. “I can’t imagine what we would do without it.” 

Air Manas partnered with Turkish cloud solution provider PeakUp to deploy Office 365. “Their technical consultants and support team are very helpful and their approach to projects is very professional,” notes Mirbakiev.

Extending headquarters to a mobile workforce

“Seventy percent of our staff is mobile,” says Mirbakiev. “Historically, it’s been very difficult to provide the technology that employees need to collaborate, but we’ve changed that with our Microsoft implementation.” The Office 365 Business Essentials licenses Mirbakiev provided for those Firstline Workers gives them access to Office 365. The solution is built for a flexible workforce, affording flight staff access to OneDrive and Skype for Business for sharing and collaboration. 

Firstline Workers—pilots, cabin crew, and ground operations—use SharePoint to share, update, and coauthor documents with headquarters office staff and regulators. Pilots and flight crew are among Mirbakiev’s most prolific SharePoint aficionados, maintaining huge libraries of technical information and safety documentation. Pilots keep their pre-flight checklists on SharePoint and update them online prior to every flight. Maintenance staff also use SharePoint to update service records and consult technical references. 

Air Manas has a bring your own device (BYOD) policy; other than the devices specifically designed for use on the planes and in the hangars, employees generally use their own phones, laptops, and tablets for work. “Our staff uses all kinds of devices,” says Mirbakiev. “Not only do they come from a variety of manufacturers, they use every operating system—Windows 10, Android, iOS, and more. Office 365 works perfectly on all these devices. It’s really cool.” 

The airline augments its 120 employees with contract staff who work from satellite locations in India, China, Russia, and Uzbekistan. With an average of two workers at each location, providing on-premises IT infrastructure would have been too costly and difficult to manage. Uninhibited by distance and international borders, those staff collaborate with their Kyrgyzstani counterparts securely and seamlessly, using SharePoint, Exchange Online, and Skype for Business.

We use the Office 365 solution for everything we do. I can’t imagine what we would do without it.
Aziz Mirbakiev, IT Manager Air Manas
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