From zero to 1 million - the journey of the AirportCharges API

From humble beginnings as a user charges document library, the AirportCharges system has come a long way. With the advent of our API, a new journey has begun for us here at RDC.

In the beginning

AirportCharges started life as a relatively straightforward system located on a small server hosted in the south of England.

In the beginnings its main purpose was to serve as a reference system, where customers (mainly airlines) could access a library of user charges documents from airports and states quickly and easily. It also had a useful on-screen summary of the general airport charges structure, as well as a basic calculation engine where people could estimate the cost of operating at the 1,000 or so airports that were databased at the time.

As AirportCharges grew in popularity, and the world of user charges grew ever larger and more complex, we realised that we needed to build a new calculation engine to meet these changing demands. The AirportCharges platform was rewritten into the application we know today - and subsequently confirmed its position as the most comprehensive airport charges reference and calculation engine on the market.

Keen to extend the power of the airport charges data beyond the user interface, it didn’t take long for our customers to start asking us about how they could integrate the AirportCharges calculation engine into their own systems. Because ultimately data is often most powerful not when it is isolated, but when it is brought together with related data to perform a greater function or tell a bigger story.

A new solution

As a result, we were inspired to develop the Airport Charges API. A programming interface enabling any external system to request calculation of user charges at the origin and destination for practically any route in the world, returning results within seconds; drawing on the largest airport charges database in the world with over 3,000 airports and 200 states worth of charges available at any moment. All 11 charge categories of the core AirportCharges user system are calculated, from runway charges to passenger fees and government taxes. The same database that is updated daily by our expert team of data analysts.

It is fair to say that we anticipated high usage of the API from the outset. With deeper integration came a greater range of use cases and the need to cater for varied usage patterns. With individual customers planning to perform hundreds, if not thousands, of quotes every day, we knew that we had to implement a back-end infrastructure which could support the anticipated levels of activity on the API, no matter what day of the week. After a review process, we decided to host the API on the scalable Azure cloud platform. This would enable us to react quickly to any spikes in demand and ensure that the API kept operating in all conditions.

The API has become an integral part of operations and analysis for a range of customers and partners, from major manufacturers like Airbus to business jet platforms such as FL3XX. Whether it’s for operational insights, quoting or internal analysis, the AirportCharges API is used every single day and has subsequently seen usage grow month on month consistently since launch.

Hitting a milestone

And so it is that this week we are delighted to announce that we have reached a new milestone: 1 million route requests since launch. In reaching this landmark, the API has assessed over an estimated 32 million charge conditions and performed over 20 million calculations. It’s a remarkable achievement in such a short space of time.

Since we hit the 1 million mark, the API continues to go from strength to strength. The value to our customers is ever-growing, and with more planning to join our API family in the near future it shows no signs of stopping. It is a testament to the huge value that the API provides.

We surveyed the market to find the best source of airport charges data, and in truth there was nothing to compare RDC's solution against - RDC is THE source for airport data globally.
– Stefan Oberender, Chief Operating Officer, FL3XX

AirportCharges and the rest of the RDC application suite are in a period of transition, with new APIs on our proprietary datasets set to join our product suite soon. We want to enable further opportunities for integration with our data, providing new and exciting prospects for our customers to do amazing things.

In reality, the journey has only just started. API is our vehicle; scalable and integrated data is our destination.


We hope you’ll join us for the ride...

To find out more about the AirportCharges API please contact us.

To find out more about our API-driven product architecture please read this article by our Senior Developer, Alok.

An Article by Adam Kendall

Adam is RDC's Head of Technology, leading the product design and development team through the process of building world-class aviation software.