ChannelLife Australia - Industry insider news for technology resellers
Story image
Melbourne Airport elevates passenger experience with Azure
Mon, 28th Aug 2023

Melbourne Airport is reimagining the passenger experience with new and robust data reporting capabilities powered by Microsoft Azure.

Melbourne Airport is the second busiest airport in Australia, facilitating more than 4,500 flights a week, ensuring the safe passage of 2.2 million customers each month, and managing around 20,000 direct employees working at any time. 

The company experienced a growth and market share surge during its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. With new flight routes, partner airlines and reopening borders, the company realised it needed to invest heavily in improving the experiences it offered passengers and staff. 

Anthony Tomai, Chief Information Officer at Melbourne Airport, says: “Melbourne Airport is not just an airport. We’re also a retail precinct and a ground transport operation. Our vision is to be Australia’s favourite airport destination.”

“We have always had huge ambitions around improving how we serve our customers. We want the passenger journey through the airport to be as seamless, comfortable and efficient as possible.” 

“From a technological perspective, achieving this is all about our data and what insight it can give us about the journey,” says Tomai.

A priority was to revamp the airport’s data analytics platform to enable employees to conduct data analytics and unlock business intelligence without relying on extensive IT infrastructure or technical expertise. 

The solution, built in partnership with Microsoft’s Aviation, Transport & Automotive Data Specialist team, is the airport’s new data analytics platform. 

The platform runs entirely on Microsoft Azure, using Azure Databricks and Azure Synapse Analytics to give Melbourne Airport complete visibility and insights from its data. 

Melbourne Airport partnered with the Microsoft and Databricks teams to conduct a data envisioning workshop to understand the value and capabilities of Azure data services and Databricks in unlocking the data opportunity. 

The platform was built using a blend of Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2, Azure Databricks, Azure SQL and dedicated SQL pools.

Xianping Wu, Chief Solution Architect at Melbourne Airport, says: “Melbourne Airport’s data management and analytics capabilities have been significantly enhanced by implementing a data lakehouse on Microsoft Azure.”

“This has enabled the organisation to acquire valuable insights into their operations, customers and performance, leading to more informed decision-making.” 

The insights Melbourne Airport’s new data analytics platform provides can help employees streamline processes and reduce operational inefficiencies by actively meeting passenger needs. It also assists with allocating resources.

Melbourne Airport hopes to introduce predictive maintenance and analysis capabilities using Internet of Things data and Microsoft’s AI tools. This will enable the airport to actively monitor the safety and compliance of critical infrastructure like lights on aeroplane landing strips. 

Melbourne Airport’s partnership with Microsoft is a key pillar in supporting its ambitious digital transformation journey. Tomai and the company’s Data Lead, Irfan Khan, have established a solid executive partnership with Microsoft’s Data & AI team and remain jointly committed to unlocking digital capabilities through investment in skills development.

The airport conducts bi-weekly training sessions and technical enablement for its employees with the Microsoft Data & AI team. Microsoft also continues to provide support and recommendations for best practices as Melbourne Airport completes the project.

In the near term, the company is looking to expand the scope of its data analytics platform by increasing the availability of data sets for other business units. It also plans to leverage better data visibility and insights to support its sustainability strategy as it works towards net zero emissions by 2030.

Lee Hickin, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, says: “Melbourne Airport is an extremely important partner for us.”

“A typical daily international flight is estimated to contribute as much as AUD $109 million to the Victorian economy and supports over 1,000 jobs annually.”

“We are excited to help such an important contributor to the economy invest in the right technology so it can continue to provide critical services in an efficient, reliable and informed way,” says Hickin.