Tampa startup aims to simplify airport management

Some employees know exactly how their day will go before they even walk in the door.

That was never the case for Rupen Philloura.

“Every day was different,” remembers Philloura, a veteran airport operations executive who spent 14 years at Tampa International Airport and is now the CEO and Founder of Airport Groupe, a consulting and optimization company for airports. “Actually, every hour was different.”

During his 20-plus year career, Philloura became skilled at managing the unexpected and controlling all the moving parts that exist in an airport. Whether that meant dealing with irate passengers, making sure cleaning crews were on task, or, in the wake of 9/11, coordinating intensive new security procedures, it was his job to make sure everything came together seamlessly. And it wasn’t easy.

“The biggest challenge was communication,” he recalls, noting that because the departments were so compartmentalized, the right hand didn’t always know what the left hand was doing. “I had to look at the bigger picture.”

Philloura knew he needed to find a way to create a more efficient system of communication and data delivery. What he didn’t know, however, was that his idea would become the foundation for AiX, a new cloud-based software solution designed to help airport operations teams interpret data they can use to make informed decisions, communicate emergency information, and plan for the future.

“Even today, a lot of airport systems are antiquated,” says Philloura, who is currently seeking a Florida airport where he can pilot AiX. “I wanted to create a software solution that airport executives could use to manage their airports more efficiently.”

AiX uses scheduled and real-time data to forecast how passengers move through the airport. It then crunches that data and creates a predictive analysis that can help airports decide how to allocate their resources and set their schedules, and it can be customized to suit each airport’s unique needs.

“It’s a one-stop shop,” Philloura says, and it’s a far cry from how he used to keep tabs on what was going on at the airport. “I used to use an Excel spreadsheet,” says Philloura with a laugh. “I’d add in passenger information, flight schedules, basically anything I could do to put all my information in one place and make my life easier.”

Excel got him by in those days, but since then, airports have become much more complex entities. In addition to the security challenges posed by 9/11, Philloura says, more low-budget airlines began entering the market, increasing the number of travelers. Ridesharing services led to clogged arteries entering the airport. And the infrastructure of airports, many of which were built in the 1960s and 1970s, had become outdated.

Because airports can’t simply be torn down and rebuilt, Philloura believes AiX will be a practical solution in helping operations managers make the best use of their existing facilities. He’s even more encouraged that he’s on the right track after speaking at the recent Global Investment in Aviation Summit in Dubai. Even though he received a lot of buzz about implementing AiX in overseas airports, he’s adamant he wants to start at home.

“AiX was made and built in America,” he says. “I want to partner with someone local and start here in Florida.”

For more information on AiX, visit their website by clicking here.

Read more articles by Jaymi Butler.

Jaymi Butler is a writer and editor who enjoys telling the stories of growth and innovation in the Tampa Bay Area, which she has called home since 2003. A former reporter for the Savannah Morning News, The State, and The Tampa Tribune, she has covered a variety of topics ranging from business to features to public health -- and she even got to sit in on an American Idol audition just feet away from Simon Cowell!