Airlines In The Cloud

Emirati airline Etihad Airways has signed a 10-year strategic partnership with SITA for the company's IT needs. The deal aims to reduce the airline's IT costs as well as build new customer-focused services and use new devices to improve customer services. As cloud computing becomes increasingly available, airlines can deploy a raft of new services and applications aimed at lowering costs and personalising customer service. BMI notes Middle Eastern airlines are rapidly getting on board with the trend.

The Etihad/SITA announcement coincides with research released by SITA and the Airline Business IT Trends Survey that suggests all airlines will invest in IT services and platforms over the next three years. The investment plans look at two key areas; improving operations and better use of da ta. Improved operations include capturing the growing demand for mobile passenger services, allowing passengers to use their mobile devices for check-in and booking. With the majority of passengers able to fly owning a mobile device, the use of handsets and tablets as alternatives to paper tickets and check-in has the potential to cut costs, while also speeding up processes for customers.

Strong Potential For A Range Of Industries
Middle East Cloud Computing Growth (%)

The SITA research also highlighted the potential for data analytics, allowing companies to understand even more about individual clients, further tailoring their services for individual customer needs. Better analysis of data aims to improve the way airlines offer their services and should also lead to cost reductions in the longer term, Etihad's CEO James Hogan said.

The SITA research is further backed by a partnership between Kuwait Airlines and Microsoft to deploy the latter's software products. Again, the key aims of the deal are to offer better services to clients and improve efficiency. Both the Kuwait Airlines and Etihad deals also look to leverage the growing availability of cloud computing. With employees needing access to services from a number of locations, cloud computing makes a lot of sense for airlines to ensure everyone has access to the latest data when needed.

Demand for the latest consumer devices and continually expanding roll-outs of telecoms infrastructure support these trends to invest in the IT services and software that build better customer relationships. BMI believes the Middle East is well placed to take advantage of these trends, with customers eager to get their hands on the latest mobile handsets and tablets, a trend that should encourage self check-in and mobile ticketing. While cloud computing remains a relatively small segment of the IT market at present, BMI expects there to be many new investors from different industries including airlines that will drive growth over our forecast period.

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Geography: Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait

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