Copenhagen Airport (CPH) is aiming to be the “architect of future airports” according to its CEO Christian Poulsen.

Speaking to Airport Technology Poulsen said the Danish capital’s airport was showing the positive effects of combined IT and operations systems across the entire “ecosystem” with its AIRHART technology.

The connected and collaborative system was produced by a joint venture called Smarter Airports with Danish (and more recently international) tech firm Netcompany.

The 300mDKK ($43m) IT infrastructure and joint venture was created after a more traditional process of tenders and external implementation failed, Poulsen explained.

The system was launched in June 2023, but CPH began work on overhauling its internal infrastructure in 2008. Firstly, the airport wanted to develop a new system internally, but that endeavour failed. In 2014 a traditional tendering process was launched, an external partner agreed upon, but the scheme was scrapped again five years later according to CPH management.

The same year, 2019, the firm joined with Netcompany to inaugurate Smarter Airports.

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Five years later, the AIRHART digital platform is operational in Copenhagen with at least 4,500 staff onboard across at least 700 airport operations, from ATC to security and retail managers. CPH is currently the workplace for nearly 20,000 people (“Some of them are a single guy, handling some specific service to an aircraft on airline company,” said Poulsen), so its reach is not intended to be universal.

“They all see the same and we can very specifically let them know what they need to know. They can have the own view of data they can see and are only allowed to see their portion of the data So one airline can only see that their own operations and other airline can see theirs.”

“But the handler managing both airlines can maybe see data from across the airlines. And this is, it seems simple, but in our world it’s not, it’s really complicated because [there are] so many types of data and so many actors and so many users with different ideas of what they need to know for their operations to be optimal,” the CEO added.

The joint venture is now looking to expand, and according to Smarter Airports CEO Mehdi Motaghiani, conversations with other airports are at advanced stages.

Although expansion deals are yet to be finalised, the Smarter Airports team explained CPH’s former ownership structure played into the system’s hands – because many senior executives have experience of running a “network” of airports, under one management system.

“We have had a DNA to actually share with all the airports and work with other airports in order to see how can we work together. And I think it comes back from when we owned to airports in Mexico and in China and in the UK,” Poulsen said.

“Many airports are just thinking of themselves. In our opinion, we are part of a network that will always have an airport on the other end. So you can grow, yes, but you cannot grow without the other airports.”

And it’s this collaborative mindset that is driving Poulsen’s aim to share knowledge with other airports and become the “architects” of industry change.

Netcompany has recently signed a $116m deal with Avinor, Norway’s airport operating company, but CEO and founder André Rogaczewski made clear this was a separate venture to the Smarter Airports and AIRHART endeavours.

But he said the customisable and modular design of the Smarter Airports’ solution was mirrored across the company’s operations. Rogaczewski likened the approach to “building with Lego blocks,” a nod to another of Denmark’s most well-known companies, and a sign of the firm’s intention to grow into as many sectors as possible