EgyptAir, IBM deal takes off

Lebone Mano
By Lebone Mano, junior journalist
Johannesburg, 23 Mar 2021
Mohamed Emad El-Din, IBM cloud’s MEA business unit head.
Mohamed Emad El-Din, IBM cloud’s MEA business unit head.

EgyptAir and IBM recently announced a partnership that will see the airline scale its backend operations and upgrade its virtual duty-free shopping experience.

EgyptAir Duty Free will now migrate its online shopping ERP workloads to IBM cloud. It’s thought the move will enable EgyptAir (EA) to respond to customer demand more quickly andpromote infrastructure cost optimisation as it moves to a consumption model. The airline will also benefit from the IBM’s Watson AI service to create an AI virtual agent.

Mohamed Emad El-Din, IBM cloud’s MEA business unit head, says the move to modernise operations is a natural reaction to the pandemic by aviation companies. Services, he says, need to be reinvented, while unlocking new experiences for their customers. 

The partnership is in line with EA's digital transformation roadmap to create an easy, digitised and personalised customer experiences. The AI virtual assistant will be a new part of Duty-Free’s online channels, El-Din adds.

“Given IBM’s experience in aviation, we’re providing the technology and industry knowledge to EA Duty-Free to help enhance its digital services by using Watson Assistant, a conversational AI that will assist online shoppers through the Duty-Free Web site with tasks such as order placement, payment and delivery inside the plane, thus providing a smooth retail experience.” 

IBM has been a service provider to EgyptAir for over 30 years, hosting core applications on IBM hardware and software. Wael Abdoush, IBM Egypt’s GM, says through the use of technologies such as hybrid cloud and AI, EA will be able to bring new experiences to customers, and bring new efficiencies to the business.

Collaboration is key

Founded in 1932, EgyptAir operates across more than 75 global destinations. It’s been working with SAP for over a decade to improve its ERP and streamline financial operations with analytics, forecasting and inventory management. EA’s SAP Travel Retail System will migrate to IBM’s cloud.

IBM’s El-Din says, EgyptAir will use a range of other SAP solutions on IBM Cloud, with many certified SAP options, "giving it the flexibility to run the right workload in the right environment.”

He adds the airline will also benefit from IBM's security capabilities, mentioning its confidential computing and encryption offerings. “The travel industry’s next normal will be defined by companies that effectively rebuild traveller trust, as they introduce more elasticity into their operations and business models.”

EgyptAir Dyty Free’s CEO and chairperson Reda Metwally says IBM and SAP technology will help the company modernise its operations through the supply chain to meet the evolving needs of customers and suppliers.