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IT is under-represented on the boards of airlines

Only 30% of airlines have an IT director on their board, even though technology is transforming their industry

Only 30% of airlines have an IT director on their board, even though technology is transforming their industry, according to a recent study.

Airlines must improve board-level representation of IT if they are to use technology to its best competitive advantage, the researchers said.

The management deficit combined with low levels of spending on IT is creating a vacuum between what is technically feasible and what is actually being achieved, according to a report by Computer Weekly’s sister magazine Airline Business and IT services company SITA.

The survey, published this week, looked at 70 of the world’s top 150 carriers.

Leo Dowling, marketing director at SITA, said: “Board representation should have been higher because a large proportion of the airline industry’s revenues and services is highly dependent on technology. IT is becoming a key part of airline re-engineering and board representation would make sure its potential is fulfilled.”

Airline IT was too fragmented, Dowling said, between individual departments when the airlines themselves were global businesses with global strategies.

The survey found that airlines invested an average 2.5% of their turnover in IT last year.

“Airlines are basically just regenerating their spend on mainframes and although they are starting to look at IP-based networks, they need to spend more on customer relationship management and internal systems,” Dowling said.

The survey found some 30% of major airlines expected to complete their migration to internet technologies by the end of the year, while 13% had yet to begin work in this area. More than 60% said the task would take between two and five years.

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