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Heathrow Airport takes to the cloud with Oracle Fusion Applications

Airport has implemented a full spread of Oracle Cloud Applications, including ERP and HCM, as it looks to recover from the pandemic

Heathrow Airport has installed Oracle’s Fusion Cloud Applications in what it describes as the “largest business transformation in its 75-year history”.

Capgemini and Oracle Consulting carried out the implementation, which is said to be part of Heathrow’s strategy to modernise its IT infrastructure and support its growth as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airport is looking to get back to the 80 million passengers a year it had pre-pandemic in 2019.

In 2016, Heathrow’s then CIO, Stuart Birrell, told Computer Weekly: “Our ambition and vision is to provide the best passenger experience in the world and we are already among the best in Europe. So how do you do that? It’s all about applying technology smartly to get the passenger experience. 

“That is through automation, ticketing, borders, working with the airlines on collaboration data and mapping information.”

At that time, there were plans to shift cloudwards, with a move to Microsoft 365. And by 2018, the airport had implemented Microsoft Power BI on the Microsoft Azure cloud for analytics for thousands of staff. On the back end, it had deployed Azure Data Lake Analytics, Azure Stream Analytics and Azure SQL Database to extract, clean and prepare real-time data about flight movements, passenger transfers, security queues and immigration queues before sending it to Power BI.

Birrell has stayed in the aviation industry, joining easyJet in 2020 as chief data and information officer.

The current Oracle implementation, on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, is comprehensive involving enterprise resource planning (ERP), human capital management (HCM), Oracle Integration Cloud and Billing Revenue Management, which is said to have been selected to support Heathrow’s high-volume aeronautical billing transactions with airlines.

An Oracle spokesperson has confirmed that Heathrow was an existing customer of Oracle before the new implementation.

Stephen Williams, Heathrow’s transformation programme director, said in a statement: “Because of the pandemic, we’ve had to fundamentally rethink how we organise ourselves, make decisions and keep everyone connected remotely.

“Our industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic. We’ve had severe disruption, loss of resources, and of course a personal toll on so many colleagues. But through it all, we still had a business-critical deadline to meet. Everyone from the board, executive team and throughout the organisation rallied behind the programme. Our programme adjustments to the pandemic made our delivery twice as fast and efficient as we were before the pandemic began.”

For Oracle, Cormac Watters, executive vice-president of applications, Oracle EMEA, said: “While the last 18 months have been challenging for the entire travel industry, it’s vital that it doesn’t stop innovating.

“Heathrow has a culture of progressiveness and innovation that has made it one of the front-runners of the industry in Europe and globally, and with Oracle Cloud Applications it now has an integrated platform to support its current and future needs.”

And for the systems integrator, Steve Baldwin, account director at Capgemini, added: “The transition to the cloud is a significant undertaking. It is a testament to the strong and collaborative partnership that has been built between Capgemini and Heathrow that we were able to modernise such a complex IT estate so seamlessly during a period of significant change for the aviation industry.”

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