As passenger numbers grow exponentially, Marubeni Corporation has strengthened its airport business with an investment in Assaia to address labor shortages with AI computer vision of ground handling events.

Tokyo, 3 October 2023 - Marubeni Corporation, the joint owner of Swissport Japan, has invested in Assaia and joined their Strategic Partner Community, a global network of aviation leaders, to exclusively bring ApronAI to Southeast Asia. Assaia’s ApronAI is the trusted name in turnaround optimization, driving growth, safety, efficiency, and sustainability for airports, airlines, and ground handlers. This investment agreement will facilitate Marubeni in expanding the scope of its exclusive distribution rights for ApronAI to Southeast Asia, for the first time since obtaining these rights for the Japanese market in 2019.

Koichi Tagei, General Manager at Marubeni Corporation and Max Diez, CEO at Assaia

ApronAI gives full visibility of the apron events for airports and ground handlers. By providing full insight into every turnaround, it revolutionizes operational processes and empowers collaborative decision-making.

With increased visibility and alerts, ground handlers can optimize performance using its dedicated artificial intelligence to monitor real-time progress of ground handling events such as the connection of the passenger boarding bridge, loading of cargo, aircraft fueling, and wing walkers.

This is achieved by utilizing footage captured by surveillance cameras already on the apron and applying AI computer vision. Currently, much of the critical information involved in the processes of airport operations is controlled and held individually by the parties involved—namely airlines, ground handlers, operational staff, administrators, and control towers—which can lead to inefficiencies and bottlenecks. Keeping track of ground handling events requires collaboration and a transition from visual observation and communication via walkie-talkies to real-time, automated alerts. ApronAI can be seamlessly integrated to satisfy diverse individual needs, providing real-time alerts, proven to increase efficiency and safety and free up employees’ time to focus on key activities.  

“Marubeni's investment in Assaia and their collaboration in the Strategic Partner Community is set to revolutionize ground handling across Southeast Asia.” said Max Diez, CEO of Assaia, “With the introduction of ApronAI, airports and ground handlers can expect enhanced operational processes, increased efficiency, and improved safety. This partnership signifies a significant step towards optimizing turnaround optimization and driving growth in the aviation industry in the region.”

The number of air passengers plummeted globally due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inevitably, this impact was also felt on the number of inbound passengers visiting Japan. However, the Japanese government expects a speedy recovery and aims to welcome 40 million inbound visitors in 2025, the year in which the Kansai region is set to host the World Expo in Osaka. This number is also expected to increase to 60 million by 2030. Meanwhile, labor shortfall in airport staff, including ground handlers, is a serious problem urgently requiring solutions. Digital transformation is considered to be one of the domains that is expected to offer such solutions going forward.

This investment is an important milestone for us,” comments Satoshi Takechi, General Manager of Marubeni’s Aviation, Space & Defense Department. “It not only strengthens our partnership with Assaia but propels our airport business to expand in Southeast Asia, where we believe we can play a more vital role.

Through this investment, Marubeni will expand the scope of its exclusive distribution rights for ApronAI from Japan to Southeast Asia. We also aim to grow our expertise by combining ApronAI with knowledge and solutions developed by Swissport Japan, a ground handling company in which Marubeni has invested (51% Swissport International, 49% Marubeni owned), and by AiRO Inc., a company that aims to automate specialized ground support equipment in airports (66% Marubeni, 34% ZMP Inc. owned). Achieving this will furthermore expedite the implementation of Digital transformation in the domain of Marubeni’s airport businesses.


The use of Assaia's TurnaroundControl has provided our Airline Partners, Ground Handlers, and Service Providers with full visibility of the aircraft turn processes. The data, predictability, and visibility enhances our collective efficiency and resilience at Toronto Pearson. Paired with our A-CDM initiative, Assaia's TurnaroundControl provides crucial data driving A-CDM processes, a reduction in turn times, and a noticeable increase in on-time performance.

Dean Wright
Associate Director, Gating & Airport Flow

The way Turnaround 2.0 uses AI and machine learning to boost our zone controllers' efficiency is remarkable. They can now manage multiple gate activities with more focus on handling exceptions, rather than multitasking. Turnaround 2.0 is more than a tool for the present; it's a foundation for 'United Next,' growing with us and helping us surpass our operational goals efficiently.

Daniel Reed
Director of Station Operations, United Airlines

Our focus is to use innovation to make our operations smoother. We have selected Assaia because of the capabilities of the tool. But it is also really important for us that it has a good record of successful implementation, so we know it will deliver for us, for our airlines and ultimately for our passengers.

Dr Babett Stapel
Managing Director, Fraport Slovenjia

We are optimizing all our processes on the apron to shorten the time each aircraft needs to be on the ground, which benefits both our passengers and our airline partners. This is a common issue across our airports and we are talking to all of them about this technology.

Claus Grunow
VP of Corporate Strategy and Digitalization at Fraport

We are pleased to partner with Assaia to implement the ApronAI Turnaround Control solution at T4. This new solution will not only optimize operations and our work with our business partners, but will also help us to ensure a first-class customer experience at T4.

Roel Huinink
President and CEO, JFKIAT

For most airports, the apron is a a black box. Assaia finally gives our ground staff full insight into every turnaround. This allows them to focus on what really matters, while simultaneously making the work environment safer.

Jason Aspelund
Former Manager Strategic Performance, Alaska Airlines

The real-time and historical insights that can inform both airport and airline operations make this solution a clear winner for everyone.

Craig Paul
Director of Technology & Innovation , Halifax Stanfield International

Assaia's product allows airports and airlines to collect, track, and analyze data in real time; this innovation removes inefficiencies and optimizes performance.

Jim Lockheed
JetBlue Ventures

We’re creating the airport of the future, and innovation in apron operations will directly improve the passenger experience. We are laser focused on innovations that will make Pearson and its whole apron ecosystem more efficient while reducing our carbon footprint.

Deborah Flint
President and CEO GTAA

SEA needed an innovative solution to our capacity problem and have worked with Assaia to optimize the turnaround process resulting in reduced taxi times and increased passenger satisfaction. Assaia has exceeded our expectations, consistently delivering on-time & on-budget.

Samer Tirhi
Airline Scheduling Coordinator, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

With the help of Predicted Off Block Time from Assaia. JFKIAT Operations can be proactive to reduce or eliminate any delays and gate holds

Stephen Tukavkin
VP IT & Digital, JFKIAT

We are proud to be partnering with the Assaia team in our mission to use technology to improve the efficiency and safety of the airport environment.

Raghbir S. Pattar
Director of Airports Transformation, IAG

I had mentioned before, great innovation on your part. With these types of improvements, T4 is always leading at JFK. Thank you

COPA Station Manager

We’re working hard on becoming an airport of the future, and this involves rethinking every part of our ground operations. Assaia’s ApronAI is an integral component of our vision for the ramp of the future.

Abhi Chacko
Head of Innovation & Commercial IT Services, Gatwick Airport

Assaia’s technology adds critical data points to CVG’s early-stage neural network for operational advancements. Structured data generated by artificial intelligence will provide information to make decisions, optimize airside processes, and improve efficiency and safety.

Brian Cobb
CIO, CVG Airport


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