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British airports group calls for five tech partners, dangles £45m

Fresh from a £300m bond issuance, Stansted, Manchester airports owner looks to continue a digital transformation drive.

MAG manchester airports group digitalisation CIO

A UK airports group is launching a new £45 million technology procurement framework as it looks to digitalise its three airports – with award-winning work across data transformation already ongoing. 

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) owns Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports. It expects to bring in five partners under the framework to “deliver technology and business change work packages.”

That’s according to a new tender notice, posted June 17 – that comes eight weeks after MAG successfully raised £300 million through a new 18-year bond; capital is also being deployed for terminal expansions.  

(The group saw 5.9 million passengers pass through its airports in May.)

Across the group, “the ambition over the next five years is to grow our capacity, transform the customer journey and experience, digitise our airports, upgrade our infrastructure, enhance colleague experience, and make an impact on our Net Zero commitments; as well as delivering our technology and digital strategy,” MAG said in a tender posted June 17. 

It wants invitations to participate in by 18 July 2024.

See also - Flights chaos: UK airspace's legacy tech challenges mount

Digital transformation at MAG is being led by CIO Nick Woods, who is pushing a technology and data strategy to improve both customer and staff experience, from using computer vision to estimate bag offloading time, to building out an integrated planning platform overlaid with real-time data from airport terminals to drive efficiency and sustainability.

Among other ongoing initiatives across the airports is a collaboration with AWS that has seen MAG work with Ryanair to develop a cloud platform on AWS that pushes information updates out from core airport systems to airport interfaces (departure boards and screens) and applications. As it is cloud-based, this feature can be made available to other airlines.

In what has clearly been a busy week for aviation sector CIOs, another airport, London Luton Airport, went to market with £5,6 million call for a range of cybersecurity capabilities under a new framework. 

Requests to participate are due July 19.