IBM, Intentia, Siebel to form airline services

IBM yesterday announced a strategic alliance with Siebel Systems, Intentia International and Mercury Scheduling Systems to develop and market e-business applications for airlines.

The four companies will work on a broad range of business-to-business applications to be marketed under the "IBM ConnectEdge for Airlines" banner, including inter-airline electronic ticketing, internet flight seat auctions, customer service, aircraft maintenance scheduling, repair, overhaul and crew scheduling, according to a statement from IBM.

The members of the alliance aim to help airlines speed the development of new e-business applications, and to integrate these applications with airlines' existing IT systems.

Mercury is the developer of Magellan, a crew scheduling software package. Intentia developed the Movex Aviation software package, which aims to optimise airlines' supply chain network, aircraft downtime, and materials management. The applications will be available either as a managed service from an IBM-hosted facility, or licensed to run in an airline's own data centre, according to the statement.

For Siebel, the alliance extends a deal made back in February, when it agreed to supply its eBusiness Applications software package for IBM's worldwide electronic commerce operations.

IBM said it expects to announce additional alliances with other business partners to develop applications for revenue management, revenue accounting, e-commerce and airline operations.

So-called e-tickets make life more convenient for many business travellers, eliminating much of the paperwork associated with flying. But one of the biggest problems facing the paperless traveller is that e-tickets are often not transferable from one airline to another, making it difficult or impossible to switch to another carrier if a flight is delayed.

IBM said one of the aims of its electronic ticketing services would be to link systems together to enable the exchange of e-tickets with multiple carriers worldwide.

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