Gatwick's Digital Transformation: The Airport of the Future, Today

May 14, 2018 • Marc Waters, Managing Director UK&I • Blog Post


  • Airports are increasingly dependent on technology, with an estimated $8.4 billion spent on airport IT costs in 2017
  • To improve both operations efficiency and customer experience, London Gatwick has partnered with HPE to simplify its network and increase resiliency to disruption from outages
  • Gatwicks overhauled network is simpler and poised to improve the customer experience by leveraging such advanced technologies as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things

Marc Waters, Managing Director for HPE, UK&I, explores how Gatwick is striving to become the most technologically-advanced airport in the world, with an IT network overhaul that is redefining the customer experience and operational efficiency

London Gatwick is the world's most efficient single-runway airport. With more than 45 million passengers and 97,000 metric tons of cargo transported every year across 228 destinations in 74 countries1. Impressive statistics but CIO Cathal Corcoran has a larger vision for Gatwick. To be the most technologically-advanced airport in the world.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is proud to be the technology partner in the cockpit beside him and his 200-person team. Striving to arrive at that destination through the airport's significant, end-to-end IT and networking overhaul and upgrade. Our presence continues far beyond rollout, with HPE Pointnext selected to provide ongoing management of the new network and support for the delivery of future projects.

Gatwick's $15 million investment is indicative of what the British government outlined in its Industrial Strategy. Calling for substantial upgrades in the UK's digital infrastructure to bolster productivity in today's hyper-competitive global marketplace. It also offers a clear glimpse into how the ecosystem supporting air transport will improve for all stakeholders in the very near future.

Few industries in the world are as dependent on technology as aviation. For airports, technology is the cornerstone for the three key factors that define its reputation; keeping planes, passengers and bags moving. All the time.On top of this core mission, an airport is a shopping mall, construction site and car parking operation all of which benefit from smart use of technology and data.

The digital transformation of the world's airports is well underway. It's estimated that $8.4 billion was spent on airport IT costs in 20172. Airport managers seek to leverage technology advancements to streamline operating costs and enhance the customer experience, both assisted and self-service.

Thanks to a steady diet of smartphone connectivity today's passengers have enormously high expectations for customer service. Even in complex environments such as airports. A survey by the International Air Transport Association revealed that 64 percent of passengers prefer to board using electronic boarding passes on their mobile phones, 61 percent expect to be able to track their baggage in real-time, and more than half (52 percent) of international travelers believe the waiting time at immigration should be no more than 10 minutes3.

Gatwick is poised to become the showpiece for airport IT and a shining example of what the future of travel will look like. Addressing these and other expectations, as well as gaining in-the-moment insights from advanced data analytics to further enhance the customer experience.

The Gatwick project is serving to both simplify the network and make it more resilient to disruption from outages. Impressively being completed in just 18 months. Less than half the time of equivalent network transformation projects. This was achieved with courageous leadership, differentiated tools, and a superb delivery team.

Farewell single points of failure and bottlenecks. Hello powerful, seamlessly integrated internal network and data center ready. Optimizing new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and machine learning, making it "capable of handling future technologies that process considerably more data."

I compared the project to something akin to performing open heart surgery while a patient is running, in today's press release announcing its completion. Describing the revamp to Gatwick ITs core, distribution and access layers as a highly-orchestrated change-out that took place in the early hours of countless mornings, so not to disrupt the 24 x 7 airport operation.

I'm personally proud of the fantastic work of our HPE team. Working tirelessly with their Gatwick counterparts to effectively create and operationalize what Cathal describes -- as an enterprise network that is worthy of an Internet Service Provider's.

Those components in addition to a network managed service from HPE Pointnext showcase the power of Hewlett Packard Enterprise's end-to-end, software defined, hybrid IT solution. Offering a cloud-like experience across the entire infrastructure - all the way to the edge.

Faster speed. Fewer outages. Higher productivity. Instant scalability. Future proofing.

Real benefits that are transforming Gatwick today. Setting the stage for a bigger and even better airport tomorrow.



1. "Gatwick by Numbers", Gatwick Airport

2. "IT more than a digital transformation at airports", Airport Business, 2017

3. "Better travel experiences mean keeping data closer in the airports of tomorrow", The Weekend Australian, 2018