American Airlines and Microsoft Corp. are partnering to use technology to create better, more connected experiences for customers and American Airlines team members, supporting the robust operations of the world’s largest airline. As part of the partnership, American will use Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform for its airline applications and key workloads, significantly accelerating its digital transformation and making Microsoft one of the airline’s largest technology partners.
With travel and tourism this year expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels, the companies are preparing for a future where consumers expect their travel experience to mimic the rest of their lives — more connected, more personalized, and more on-demand than ever.
Through their partnership, American and Microsoft aim to use data and other digital technologies to meet customer demands while also streamlining business processes to give American team members the tools that enable a smoother travel experience for the consumers. For example, the companies envision a future where every aspect of the customer experience and airline operations will be optimized using advanced analytics and other digital technologies — from enhanced bag tracking and automatically rerouting flights based on weather conditions to using digital twins to simulate operations at major hubs and proactively adjust to increase efficiencies.
“Reliably operating thousands of flights around the world to take customers to hundreds of destinations is critical to American, which is why the airline has chosen Microsoft’s technology to support our applications,” said American’s Chief Information Officer Maya Leibman. “With the power of Microsoft Azure, American can innovate and accelerate its technology transformation, giving our team members augmented tools to provide our customers an enhanced travel experience.”
“As the airline industry continues to transform, building a digital technology foundation in the cloud will be essential for future resilience,” said Judson Althoff, EVP, and chief commercial officer, Microsoft. “Through our partnership, American Airlines is taking a forward-thinking, cloud-first approach to using data, AI, and our collaboration platforms to reimagine not only its own operations but the experiences of its employees and customers.”
Already, American and Microsoft are progressing toward innovative and transformational experiences for airline employees and customers.
Using Data to Streamline Operations and Reduce Travel Pain Points
When an aircraft lands at American’s largest hub, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), reaching the gate quickly is critical to running a smooth operation. American and Microsoft are applying the power of AI, machine learning, and data analytics to reduce the taxi time, saving thousands of gallons of jet fuel per year and giving connecting customers extra time to make their next flight. Built on Azure, American’s intelligent gating program provides real-time analysis of data points, including routing and runway information to automatically assign the nearest available gate to arriving aircraft.
Previously, gating decisions for American’s 136 gates at DFW required more manual involvement from gate planners. Now, the program can look at multiple data points simultaneously for the hundreds of daily arrivals, providing the capability to save more than a minute of taxi time per flight. That adds up to 10 hours of reduced taxi time per day, lower fuel usage, and decreased CO2 emissions.
Enhancing Frontline Collaboration to Drive Better Customer Experiences
For a flight to leave on time takes many team members behind the scenes to make happen. Every day, maintenance personnel, ground crew, pilots, flight attendants, and gate agents work together to ensure each flight departs on time. Until recently, these team members — who are always on the move and rarely tied to a desk — relied on accessing information via desktop computers or laptops. American and Microsoft created the ConnectMe app, which team members can access from any mobile device via a Microsoft Power Apps-enabled app in Microsoft Teams. With information now at its fingertips, American has accelerated airplane turn times at gates and connected thousands of frontline team members through a single platform.
Creating a cloud platform for the future of airline operations
Running the world’s largest airline is no small feat. Now, through American’s partnership with Microsoft, the airline will migrate and centralize strategic operational workloads — such as its data warehouse and several legacy applications — in one Operations Hub on Azure, becoming one of the first global airlines to embrace a comprehensive cloud strategy for all its business areas. With its Operations Hub on Azure, American plans to save costs, increase efficiency and scalability, and make progress toward its ambitious sustainability goals.
In addition to their cloud partnership, the companies are deepening their relationship to support Microsoft employee travel. Through the highly preferred partnership with American, Microsoft employees will receive new, enhanced benefits when they choose American or its alliance partners for their business travel. Furthermore, American and Microsoft may use Microsoft employee feedback to inform future innovations to continue driving a more connected, seamless, and personalized travel experience.