Airline incumbents land e-biz solution

Australian airline technology chiefs responded positively to IBM's ConnectEdge for Airlines, an alliance to develop and market a set of integrated e-business airline applications and services.

In particular, the technologists applauded the solution's ability to tie legacy systems with new e-business applications, a problem particularly constraining to the airline industry, which has previously relied on cumbersome, proprietary systems. "In today's fast-moving airline environment, the ability to add new business functions quickly is of critical importance," said Ron Chambers, CIO at Ansett Australia.

"The concept behind ConnectEdge for Airlines represents a positive move towards being able to react much faster to market conditions." And it's not just existing players who will benefit from access to best-of-breed solutions via ConnectEdge for Airlines according to Ian McClenaughan, general manager at IBM ConnectEdge for Airlines.

"Whether airlines are new entrants or existing players, this solution is scalable," McClenaughan told Computerworld. And for start-ups like Impulse and Virgin Blue, he said "this solution allows them to target specific markets rather than taking on the big players directly. It will be interesting to watch for Impulse and Virgin Blue's strategies."

Additionally, start-up airlines can reduce capital needed to buy solutions outright by using the multihosted service on a subscription basis, McClenaughan said. The solutions also lets airlines participate in alliances without having to move to one environment by creating a common framework. And the solution will let airlines adopt more customer-focused operations. "Airlines in the past have had a ‘silo mentality'," McClenaughan said.

"They operated in vertical departments, such as reservations, HR, flight operations, maintenance. "Customers saw a different face of the airline depending on which department they were speaking to," he said.

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