American Airlines’ move to the cloud delivers more connected technologies and travel experiences for employees and customers

With air travel and tourism back to pre-pandemic levels, the commercial airline industry is ready to welcome travelers back into the air. And digital technology has the potential to help airlines create a smoother travel experience, especially for those who may not have flown in the past few years.

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, is one of the first global airlines to recognize and seize this opportunity. To reduce disruptions at the airport, on the tarmac, and throughout the system, American and Microsoft are engaged in streamlining operations, better empowering team members, and enhancing customer experiences with Microsoft Cloud.

Through this partnership, the airline provides its frontline employees with access to information and insights that simplify ground operations and make travel a more enjoyable experience for customers, as well as apply data and other technologies to enhance business operations.

“Reliably operating thousands of flights around the world to take customers to hundreds of destinations is critical to the United States, which is why the airline chose Microsoft technology to power our applications,” says American Airlines CIO Maya Lippman.

Optimizing costs and increasing efficiency

For airlines and customers trying to take a connecting flight, minutes matter. American and Microsoft together apply the power of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics to reduce taxi time for flights, giving customers extra time to make their next trip while saving thousands of gallons of jet fuel and reducing the CO2 emissions of American Airlines’ fleet. The US smart gate software, built on Azure, provides real-time analysis of data points, including routing and runway information to automatically assign the closest available gateway to the oncoming aircraft.

Gate decisions for the 136 US gates at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), for example, have traditionally required more manual involvement from gate planners. Now, the software can search multiple data points simultaneously for hundreds of daily arrivals, saving more than a minute of taxi time per trip. This could eliminate not only up to 10 hours of taxi time per day, but also 870,000 gallons of jet fuel each year at the DFW plant – the equivalent of reducing CO2 emissions by more than 2,600 metric tons per year.

American Airlines employees

Empowering frontline teams

Before the pandemic slowdown, technology investments across all industries tended to focus on simplifying customer experiences. In the travel industry, high-definition customer-facing systems and smartphone apps have received significant funding. Meanwhile, front-line systems have received less attention, leading mobile employees without regular access to desktop or laptop computers to rely instead on text messaging and consumer apps.

In fact, according to a special Microsoft Work Trends Index report, a third of all frontline workers say they don’t have the right technological tools to do their job effectively; This figure rises to 41 percent for those in non-management positions.

American Airlines caters to the technology needs of front-line workers, providing them with solutions like ConnectMe, a Microsoft Teams-based solution that leverages PowerApps and Azure, which the airline developed in partnership with Microsoft. Using the app, team members can access real-time data from any mobile device. With key information, boarding, baggage, and the gate now at their fingertips, US front-line teams have sped turnaround times at dozens of airports in the US.

By empowering its team members with modern technology to simplify communication and coordination, the airline drives operational efficiency while creating a more connected and inclusive culture for employees.

American Airlines passengers

innovation leadership

Running the world’s largest airline is no small feat. Through its partnership with Microsoft, American is on the right track to migrate and focus its full suite of strategic operational workloads in the cloud. Operations Hub on Azure will connect the US data warehouse and many legacy applications and other tools in one place, making the airline one of the first to adopt a comprehensive cloud strategy for all areas of its business. This move will allow Americans to save costs, increase efficiency and scalability, and make progress toward ambitious sustainability goals.

“With the power of Microsoft Azure, America can innovate and accelerate its technology transformation, giving our team members enhanced tools to provide our customers with an improved travel experience,” says Lipman.

It has been rewarding to see how the world’s largest airline has embraced technology to drive innovation, and we’re excited to reach new heights together for years to come.

(Images via American Airlines).

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