The operators of Brussels' main airport said yesterday it had acquired a majority stake (80%) in the Belgian operations AI and data analytics business Jetpack.
Founded in 2017, Jetpack currently has 15 employees on its team. The startup's software helps enterprises embed data science and software development capabilities into their internal IT networks, but on a massive scale.
For example, Jetpack is used by the operator of Belgium's national energy distribution grids. As energy demand constantly fluctuates, the grid needed software to immediately absorb data inflows from right across Belgium.
The operator has built custom AI models on top of Jetpack's data stack for grid forecasts, for example adjusting the official size of the grid once new cables are added, estimating long-term energy costs, identifying consumption spikes, and predicting where renovation spends will be needed.
Meanwhile air traffic at the Brussels airport has returned as international travel resumed post-COVID. In May 2022, the airport company said it estimates 1.5 million passengers jetted off from its runways in the previous month, up 527% on the year, but still 31% lower than before the pandemic crisis.
Leading international airports increasingly make use of a whole gamut of data inputs to improve the passenger experience, speeding up waiting times at check-in, for instance. And while Brussels has long used its data — from baggage drop, and security screening — it expects Jetpack to enrich the predictive potential of using that data, enabling more "differentiated" services for its passengers.
Brussels Airport Company CEO Arnaud Feist said: "Brussels Airport’s investment in Jetpack fits in perfectly with our strategy of continuous improvement of our operational and commercial performance to serve our customers even better.
"The optimisation of our processes requires the real-time analysis of a large amount of data and the making of forecasts based on the increased use of artificial intelligence"
After the acquisition, Jetpack will continue to operate with its own team. The founding team have retained minority shareholdings, and the operations AI stack will still be marketed to third parties unrelated to the airport businesses. However Jetpack will also receive budget to start up a new aviation-focused competence and innovation centre.
Raphaël Krings, a co-founder of Jetpack with previous data analysis and supply chain management expertise, said: "Thanks to this privileged bond with Brussels Airport, which provides us with a formidable field of multi-industry development, we will be able to accelerate the development of innovative solutions for all our customers."