ABU DHABI / ARMONK, NY - Etihad Airways and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a ten-year technology services agreement worth about US$700 million.

The agreement that was signed at the end of September 2015, will provide access to the cloud technologies and services for the airline, its group companies and equity partners, including Alitalia, airberlin, Jet Airways, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional. 

The agreement includes plans for the creation of a cloud data center in Abu Dhabi to be developed and operated by IBM and to create a joint technology and innovation council in Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Airways’ current data center, IT infrastructure, applications and security operations will be migrated to the new data center in Abu Dhabi, and disaster recovery will be managed at an IBM Cloud data center in Europe.

As part of the agreement, around 100 Etihad Airways information technology employees will move to IBM for skills training. IBM will also manage the entire data center operation, including individual infrastructure services and IT help-desk for the Abu Dhabi based airline. 

The agreement covers IBM’s mobile solutions, developed under the Apple-IBM alliance, the airline plan to provide mobile services to its employees, passengers and airport operations with access to IBM’s Watson cognitive technology.

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.”

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. 

“We have chosen IBM as a global technology partner due to its commitment to its people, its experience in delivering such transformations, and its history of leadership and innovation in the airline industry. We are confident that this collaboration will ultimately enhance our guest experience and reinforce our competitive position further within the industry.”

Martin Jetter, senior vice president, IBM Global Technology Services, said: “By partnering with IBM in this transformation journey, Etihad Airways is accelerating the move to new technologies such as cloud computing and cognitive. These technologies will help the airline to improve efficiencies and achieve its ambitious growth plans as a globally integrated aviation group.”