Tuscany: smart as well as beautiful…

Toscana Aeroporti, management company for Florence and Pisa airports, has teamed with Thales Italia to implement a new solution designed to optimise operational efficiency and enhance the passenger experience for millions of travellers to beautiful Tuscany.

An established relationship

Tuscany’s two international airports joined forces under a single operator in 2015, creating a combined airport system capable of driving the continued economic development of one of the world’s best-loved regions. The airports serve the business and leisure travel segment via full-service carriers, as well as handling low-cost tourist traffic and cargo flights.
The long-term target of Toscana Aeroporti is to achieve -by 2029- 130 destinations all over the world, 45 airlines and 160 daily flights, which means an improvement of around 30% of the current Pisa and Florence Airport performances.
Thales Italia’s collaboration with Pisa airport dates back to 2012, when the company supplied a new Boarding Pass Control System (BPCS) to regulate passenger access to airport gates, using real-time data to avoid queues during boarding and improve the safety and security of operations. The BPCS was subsequently extended to include Florence following the merger of the airport management companies.

Airports get smarter with Smart Airport

The latest collaboration between Thales Italia and Toscana Aeroporti – ongoing since 2017 – revolves around Smart Airport, a cloud-based software solution initially developed to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage at Thales’s Digital Factory in Paris. Smart Airport utilises historical data to model passenger flows and assign security checkpoint resources accordingly. Importantly, the system uses machine learning capabilities to update itself based on actual passenger inputs, ensuring that predictions become more accurate with time, and making forward planning of resources over the coming weeks and months even more effective.

Leveraging the power of data

Thales’s expertise with the airport operations segment, and its ability to integrate data from a wide variety of sources, have enabled it to work hand in hand with the airport operator to develop a solution precisely tailored to real-world operational needs. With Smart Airport, the most important benefit of this co-design approach has been to engage airport operators (in this case Toscana Aeroporti) at a very early stage in order to grasp their most critical business needs. Once these were clearly identified, Thales successfully delivered on its commitment to address them as a matter of priority in developing the solution.

The project provided a perfect example of how working closely and continuously with the customer – also leveraging local customer intimacy provided by Thales teams -  is key to the success of complex airport projects.  

Practical benefits

Smart Airport means that Toscana Aeroporti can open or close security lanes and re-assign associated personnel based on real-time data, boosting operational efficiency as well as safety and security. Passengers, meanwhile, enjoy shorter queues, with the added benefit of being able to spend more time in the airports’ facilities. It's a win-win situation for all the stakeholders in the airport ecosystem!

Potential for the future

The successful implementation of the BPCS at Pisa airport paved the way for its integration as one of the components of the AiRISE suite, which incorporates several modules to help airport operators predict the unpredictable and learn from past experience to make efficiency gains in the future. Yet another example of how Thales provides decisive digital technologies for decisive customer needs.