IBM and Etihad Airways sign a £459m deal

American tech company IBM and United Arab Emirates’ Etihad Airways have today signed an agreement worth $700 million (£459m). The agreement, 10 years long, will allow the airline to “enhance guest experience, develop world-class infrastructure and security, and improve efficiency”, IBM has said in a press release.

Under the agreement, IBM will be tasked to move the airline’s infrastructure to the cloud, first by building a data centre in Abu Dhabi.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “This is a long-term, strategic partnership which will allow Etihad Airways and its partners to harness the latest technologies as we deliver our award-winning services. This is a game-changing agreement for Etihad Airways, for our partners and employees, and for Abu Dhabi.”

Aside from the data centre, the two companies will also form a joint technology and innovation council, set in Abu Dhabi, and tasked with the development of more personalised travel solutions.

Robert Webb, Etihad Airways’ Chief Information and Technology Officer, said: “This landmark agreement, a fundamental part of our technology and innovation strategy, will bring us a global IT delivery platform that is secure, resilient and future-ready for Etihad Airways’ companies and equity partner airlines.

Etihad Airways’ current data centre, IT infrastructure, applications and security operations will be migrated to the new data centre in Abu Dhabi, and disaster recovery will be managed at an IBM Cloud data centre in Europe. This approach will allow the airline to scale and manage its IT resources more efficiently, while ensuring business continuity.

As part of the agreement, around 100 Etihad Airways information technology employees will transition to IBM, where they will have access to further IT skills development opportunities. IBM will manage the entire data centre operation, including individual infrastructure services and IT helpdesk for Etihad Airways.