TAM reveals Amadeus deal as it readies to join Star in April

São Paulo
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Brazilian operator TAM is moving quickly to adopt the Star Alliance's recommended integrated IT platform, the Amadeus Altea customer management solution, as it readies to formally join the international grouping in April.

During a ceremony this morning in Sao Paolo, Brazil, TAM announced a 10-year partnership with Amadeus that calls for the IT giant to replace the carrier's multiple legacy applications with Altea, a system already used in part or in whole by more than 60% of Star's member airlines.

Altea will manage all TAM's reservations, inventory and departure control processes, giving the carrier "the technological support to continue with our plans for international expansion, modernise our systems and reduce our operational costs", says TAM vice-president finance and IT Libano Barroso.

Altea's central repository of data will enable TAM agents to access a common and constantly up-to-date client profile, with their flight history and individual preferences. "This capacity to recognize their passengers from the point of reservation through to baggage collection will enable the airline's staff to offer a consistent and responsive service to their customers," says Amadeus.

TAM will also adopt Amadeus' suite of e-commerce services to support its web sites and grow online sales.

Participation in Amadeus' global distribution system (GDS) is not part of the arrangement, but TAM is "open to discuss new processes" and distribution channels, says Barroso.

Although financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, Barroso says TAM expects to see a return on its investment in the medium-term. He estimates that the decision to adopt Altea - together with TAM's position in the Star Alliance - will result in $60 million in new sales per year for the carrier.

Although the deal was announced today, Amadeus and TAM have in fact been working on the carrier's migration to Altea for several months. To prepare for operation on the new platform, the airline in March started the training process and change management in all areas of the company.

A cut-over to the new system will occur by the end of the year, although TAM does not have a specific deadline, says TAM vice-president commercial and planning Paulo Castello Branco.

The speed at which TAM is migrating to Altea is nothing short of impressive, says Amadeus vice president airline IT Julia Sattel. She says TAM's integration is the fastest among carriers with "that size and complexity".

Meanwhile, TAM's formal integration into the Star Alliance is anticipated for just after the first quarter, in April. Some reports have suggested the carrier would be a member of Star by the end of this year. However, Branco says an April date is "our expectation".

TAM IT director Juliana Kfouri notes that the carrier needs to integrate with more than 20 airlines when it joins Star.

"A more simplified and interactive architecture has been designed, this will bring more agility and performance in the airline's technology and client services," she says, adding: "The challenge brought by this radical change will enable TAM to undergo a complete transformation in its processes, operations and IT systems."