AeroCloud, a cloud-native airport management software startup used by dozens of airports worldwide, has raised $12.6 million in Series A funding.
In the year Founded in 2019 from Chester, UK, Aerocloud says it already works with Manchester and Eindhoven airports in Europe, while in the US it counts Tampa International and John Wayne Airport as customers, handling 150 million passengers on board each year.
Essentially, AeroCloud promises all stakeholders access to data through the cloud, with features that support common airport use cases, such as automatic gate assignment to flights and optimization of interchange gate capacity to increase revenue.
The company says it taps into machine learning smarts to use historical data to serve up predictions to its customers, such as predicting the number of passengers for certain years.
“By introducing AI and machine learning into our intelligent airport management system, we’re allowing airport operations teams to plan less and do more,” AeroCloud founder and CEO George Richardson explained to TechCrunch. “Airports have tasks that require a variety of human interactions every day. With AI, we can reduce that cognitive load on individuals and teams and free up airport time to focus on other priority challenges.”
AeroCloud’s platform captures key data such as the percentage of passengers currently on board a particular flight and when it will take off, allowing it to predict whether the flight is likely to take off on time. Additionally, the scheduled arrival gate may be reassigned to inbound aircraft gates if a delayed aircraft is still seated there.
“These situations happen to our customers 100 times a day, and AI can always beat the human head to a solution,” Richardson added.
On the surface, the airport management software market may appear somewhat vertical, but Richardson points to the data to highlight the potential for a new player in the space.
“In terms of the number of airports in the world, you can look at one spot, but the potential is huge — we see a $20 billion market,” Richardson said, citing figures from an internal competitor data analysis. For example, in the US alone there are 508 commercial service airports and 3,500 more non-commercial service airports. We have products that fit most of these customers. But, that’s not even the fun part – the most fun part is that we create a network of airports to communicate and share valuable information with each other when we reach the most critical customers in our system.
The airport management software space includes veterans such as Amadeus and SITA, but like all young startups looking to replace long-time incumbents, AeroCloud cites its cloud-native credentials as a key selling point to new customers. .
“Big airports now rely on our competitors’ systems that were built in the late ’80s,” Richardson said. Since then, this software has hardly changed – they are static, not in the cloud. Like many neglected and underserved industries, airports are extremely challenging environments to make changes to, with multiple layers of management and board-level risks to consider, which is why they’re still relying on old-school software.
The problem, according to Richardson, is that many on-premises solutions don’t make data readily available, instead introducing data silos into in-house technology stacks. This is problematic in the airport environment, which often requires quick action to support any fluid situation. In the case of diverted aircraft, for example, when a nearby plane needs a place to land quickly due to an emergency, this includes the gates, customs, passport control, baggage handlers and many other players from different departments.
Getting everyone on the same page, accessing all the same data and insights saves a lot of manual spade work.
“Previously, this was done by the operations team calling the airport and getting everyone lined up,” Richardson said. “But with AeroCloud, we know and notify all stakeholders when the FAA flags a flight as inbound. The platform can keep all teams aware of exactly what is going on and automatically remind them of the protocol. This isn’t just powerful because it means everyone knows what’s going to happen, it’s powerful because now your operations team can focus on their work instead of being an informant and chasing everyone around to get ready.
If any proof was needed that the public cloud will be where it is by 2023, Amadeus, a $25 billion competitor to AeroCloud, recently announced plans to move itself into the cloud as part of a three-year modernization effort.
Aerocloud has already raised about $3.4 million and has another $12.6 million in the bank, which the company says will use the new funding to accelerate its expansion plans and continue efforts to “displace troublesome executives.” In particular, Aerocloud is planning to double its headcount at its centers in the UK and US to 80 by 2023, and is aiming to grow its customer base to more than 100 – from 42 today – by the end of the year.
“We believe we will primarily be dealing with passenger aircraft, but we believe the increase in cargo air traffic post-Covid and the introduction of drones in the next 5-10 years will benefit from the network and this information,” Richardson said.
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 Hatch.