AeroClouda cloud-native airport management software startup used by dozens of airports around the world has raised $12.6 million in a Series A funding round.
Founded in Chester, UK, in 2019, AeroCloud says it already partners with Manchester and Eindhoven airports in Europe, while in the US it counts Tampa International and John Wayne Airport as customers and some 150 million across the board. passengers processed per year.
At its core, AeroCloud promises all stakeholders access to data through the cloud, with features that support common airport use cases, such as automated flight gate assignment and optimizing reserve gate capacity to increase revenue.
The company also says it uses smart machine learning to provide its customers with forecasts based on historical data, such as estimating passenger numbers for a specific time of year.
“By introducing AI and machine learning into our intelligent airport management system, we are empowering airport operations teams to plan less and take more action,” AeroCloud co-founder and CEO George Richardson told australiabusinessblog.com. “Airports have a range of tasks that require varying degrees of human interaction on a daily basis. With AI, we can reduce that cognitive load on individuals and teams, and help free up time at an airport to focus on other priority challenges.”
The AeroCloud platform also collects key data, such as the percentage of passengers currently on board a specific aircraft and when it will depart, so it can predict whether the aircraft is likely to depart on time. In addition, it can automatically assign gates to incoming aircraft if a delayed aircraft is still present at the scheduled arrival gate.
“These scenarios happen 100 times a day for customers of ours, and the AI can always beat the human head to find a solution,” Richardson added.
On the surface, the airport management software market may seem like a somewhat vertical niche, but Richardson points to the data to highlight the potential for a new player in the space.
“You might see a niche in terms of the number of airports there are in the world, but the potential of the niche is significant — we see a market worth $20 billion,” said Richardson, citing figures that have been collected. through internal competitor data analysis. “In the US alone, for example, there are 508 commercial airports and more than 3,500 non-commercial airports. We have products for most of these customers. But that’s not even the exciting part – the really exciting part is that when we reach a critical mass of customers on our system, we’ve created a network of airports to communicate with each other and share valuable information.”
The airport management software space includes older incumbents like Amadeus and SITA, but as with just about any young upstart looking to replace the long-established status quo, AeroCloud touts its cloud-native credentials as a major selling point for potential new customers.
“Large airports currently rely on systems from our competitors, originally built in the late 1980s,” said Richardson. “These software have hardly changed since then – they are static and not cloud based. As with many industries that are overlooked and underserved, airports are extremely challenging environments to implement change, with many layers of management and perceived risks to board level, which is why they still rely on old-fashioned software.”
The problem, according to Richardson, is that many of the on-premise legacy solutions don’t make it easy to access data, instead promoting data silos through homegrown tech stacks. This is problematic in an airport environment that often has to act quickly to support any number of fluid scenarios. For example, diverted aircraft, where a nearby plane needs to land somewhere quickly due to an emergency, involves multiple players from different departments, including gates, customs, passport control, baggage handlers, and everything else.
Getting everyone on the same page, with access to the same data and insights, saves a lot of manual work.
“Previously this would have been done by the operations team calling around the airport and getting everyone lined up,” Richardson said. “But with AeroCloud we immediately know and inform all stakeholders FAAA marks the flight as an inbound diversion. The platform can let all teams know exactly what is happening and automatically remind them of the protocol. Not only is this powerful because it means everyone knows what is happening, it is also powerful because your operations team can now focus on their work, rather than being the informant and chasing everyone to prepare.”
If any proof was needed that the public cloud is all where it is in 2023, Amadeus, a $25 billion AeroCloud competitor, recently announced plans to move itself to the cloud as part of a three-year modernization effort.
Previously, AeroCloud had raised about $3.4 million, and with an additional $12.6 million in the bank, the company said it will use the new funding to accelerate its expansion plans and continue its drive to “turn slack incumbents to suppress”. More specifically, AeroCloud is gearing up to double its workforce to 80 through 2023 at its UK and US hubs, and aims to grow its customer base to more than 100 — down from 42 — by the end of the year Today.
“We may be dealing primarily with passenger jets right now, but we believe the addition of rapidly growing post-Covid air cargo traffic and the introduction of drones over the next 5-10 years will also benefit from our network and this data,” said Richardson.
AeroCloud’s Series A round was led by US VC firm Stage 2 Capital, with participation from Triple Point Ventures, I2BF Global Ventures, Praetura Ventures, Playfair Capital and Haatch.