Copenhagen Airports opts for the cloud with latest operational efficiency investment


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Copenhagen Airport
Copenhagen Airports’ investment in upgrading its IT infrastructure is a key element of its ambition to be able to serve 40 million passengers per year.

As passenger numbers continue to rise at Copenhagen Airport, exhaustive efforts are being made to optimise infrastructure to help its airline partners serve an increasing number of international routes. Equally, the airport is making every effort to ensure that continued growth is complemented by an improved passenger experience.

The latest development of this front is a significant one, with a new cloud-based airport operational database (AODB) laying the foundations for myriad benefits. Hosted off-site, the AODB is described as being the “central brain” of the airport and will provide real-time, consistent and timely information to all stakeholders and systems, while reducing the complexities of systems integration between siloed stakeholders.

Copenhagen Airports has partnered with Amadeus on this large-scale project, and the agreement also covers a variety of other systems, including a new baggage reconciliation system (BRS) and airport collaborative decision making (A-CDM) portal. Speaking to FTE, Christian Poulsen, Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Assets & Technology at Copenhagen Airports, and John Jarrell, Head of Airport IT at Amadeus, detailed the impact that the new IT infrastructure will have.

Optimising operations

Jarrell explained that the new AODB implementation is about more than simply moving the servers off-site. As roughly 90% of the flights going in and out of Copenhagen Airport are operating on the Altéa departure control system (DCS), the cloud-based AODB can tap into this real-time flight information to react to potential disruption situations, such as a flight that departed on time but will arrive in Copenhagen later than scheduled, which can have a knock-on effect on other arrivals and departures across the airport, Jarrell said.

Adding to this, Poulsen explained: “Also, on an anonymous basis, we can take advantage of what we know about the passengers on an individual plane, so we know in a statistical manner which passengers are connecting from this flight via Copenhagen Airport to another destination. This information is then used to optimise the way we partner planes and which stands and gates we use for that particular plane. We can also optimise the flow through the airport of the passengers who are making their way to the next connecting flight.”

He continued: “We will reduce the complexity of our infrastructure. We have access to much more data about operations, about the passengers and about the other activities going on, and we will use this to optimise the passenger experience. For instance, you can have more direct routes through the airport because we are partnering planes more optimally, we have more knowledge about which passengers will arrive at what time…It’s about knowing more about these many passengers and these many planes that travel through our airport.”

The new agreement also covers further tools to be added at a later date. “We’ll give them the ability to see from the data that’s in that database what the expected traffic is, in terms of the number of passengers coming through their airport, so they can see that information by concourse, for instance,” Jarrell said. “This can be provided at various intervals – every 15 minutes, every hour, or whatever the airport chooses – and it lets them staff the airport more efficiently than what they’re able to do today.”

Real-time baggage updates

Baggage is another key area of focus and the investment in the new BRS will allow the airport to make better use of real-time baggage information. “Every time the bag is touched within Copenhagen Airport, the Passenger Name Record within the reservation system will be updated, so the airline can actually see when that bag was last seen, and they can, if they choose to, send a text message to the passenger or put it in their airline application to say ‘your bags have been loaded’,” Jarrell stated. Such proactive messages will surely help to satisfy those passengers who are demanding more control over their air travel experience.

According to Poulsen, this significant IT investment is “one of the cornerstones in our technology strategy and our core systems setup”. Interestingly, the investment has been partly inspired by the changing behaviour of the passengers themselves, who have taken more control over their journeys in recent years. Only 22% of passengers flying from Copenhagen Airport check-in at a counter, with the majority instead making use of self-service kiosks, and mobile and online check-in. “That’s having a huge impact on the flows in the airport and as a compact airport we of course need to optimise our square metres,” he said. As Copenhagen Airport continues to grow towards its 40-million-passenger target, making the most of every square metre will be absolutely crucial.