An Airport in Your Pocket

How Bengaluru International Airport is Transforming its Passengers’ Experience through exciting digital initiatives.

Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru or the BLR Airport is one of India’s fastest growing airports, operating about 500 flights a day and handling over 22 million passengers a year. The third busiest airport of India was finding it challenging to manage their increasing traffic, and therefore decided to embark on a digital journey to address the same.

Challenges of Managing an Airport

Digital transformation of an airport is really interesting because an airport authority has to manage collaboration between multiple and highly demanding stakeholders. It’s like a landlord managing multiple tenants—aircraft, security, immigration, parking, retailers, just to name a few. Seamless collaboration between these ‘tenants’ is required to achieve the ultimate objective of ensuring a smooth and hassle-free journey for the passengers.

So if flights are delayed for instance and the immigration and security staff are informed late, then it will lead to chaos as passengers land and start queuing up. If the ground staff doesn’t get timely information about which bays are assigned to incoming aircraft, then they get delayed in executing their duties like passenger de-boarding process, etc. All this will ultimately lead to passenger dissatisfaction.

On top of all this, the passengers themselves have to deal with so many complexities like managing multiple documents (e-ticket, ID proof, boarding card, baggage tags, etc), hunting for and searching through the flight information display systems for flight status, looking for the boarding gate, finding out the baggage belt number on arrival, and so on.

BLR Airport Onboards ThoughtWorks for their Digital Journey

“ThoughtWorks is on top of the competitive dynamics. Their technological strengths make them the right partner to help us achieve our goal of being a Smart Airport. We want our travelers to love and talk about it, when they travel through us.” — Hari Marar, President of Airport Operations, BIAL
When starting with such a massive transformation journey… We needed somebody to think on our behalf. Who believed in our vision with the same fierce commitment that we had towards that vision. We found that in TW”

— Hari Marar, President of Airport Operations, BIAL

Keeping in view all these challenges, BIAL partnered with ThoughtWorks to embark on their digital journey. So what initially started as a routine “re-design my website” kind of request ended up into a complete digital transformation initiative with ThoughtWorks as the consulting partner.

Digital Initiatives Rolled Out So Far

The result of this journey was a comprehensive digital strategy of continuous designing, building, validating and refining solutions. Here’s what this journey has resulted in so far:

Common Airports Operations Database: As the first objective for BIAL was to improve collaboration between stakeholders, they started a few years ago by linking together systems of all stakeholders into one common airport operations database. It linked with all airlines systems so that the airport could know the exact status of each aircraft for all airlines, and then pass this information to all the stake holders. As a result, ground staff knew when to provision resources and exact parking bay where the aircraft would come. Security and immigration were able to plan their duties better. BIAL could assign baggage belts to airlines well in advance so that they could announce it to passengers while they were still deplaning. As a result, they managed to put the first bag on the conveyor belt in seven minutes, and last within 16 minutes.

Digital Platform: A key feature of the strategy is a digital platform that adapts to the airport’s evolving digital needs and engages with passengers. This platform hosts BIAL’s mobile app, as well as capabilities like data, context awareness, multi tenancy, extensibility etc.

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