Air France-KLM updates WAN to improve connectivity in emerging markets

Wide area network upgrade promises to help airline improve customer service and boost business

Air France-KLM is to update its airline wide area network (WAN) to improve communications across the different regions in which it operates.

The airline’s global CIO, Jean-Christophe Lalanne, said: “We have decided to revisit our wide area network.”

Tata Communications is the company’s new WAN provider.

The multi-year contract will see Air France-KLM run its WAN service across Tata Communications’ MPLS network to connect its mission-critical systems, including passenger check-in, flight operations and departure control applications, as well as corporate programmes in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.

Air France-KLM, which carried 87.4 million passengers in 2014, is the first major European airline group to move away from Sita as its WAN.

Tata’s global network – which connects more than 300 locations for leading airlines worldwide – will enable Air France-KLM to offer a range of digital services in regions that have been identified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as drivers of future growth for the industry.

Currently, eight of the 10 fastest-growing airline markets are in Africa. By 2034, IATA expects 1.3 billion passengers to touch China – up from 850 million at present – and India is tipped to see an additional 260 million passengers.

Europe will act as key transfer hub to these emerging markets, with 1.4 billion passenger journeys in 2034 – nearly 600 million more than today, according to IATA.

Air France-KLM’s IT is centralised, and Lalanne said the Tata WAN will connect its core backbone and Paris datacentres to locations around the world where it operates.

“The current network was relatively old-fashioned and bandwidth too low,” he said. “We now have double, triple or even five times as much bandwidth, all for the same price.”

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Lalanne said the airline would introduce a range of services, such as travel apps for smartwatches, to provide a personalised travel experience for tech-savvy passengers.

“Tata Communications’ global next-generation network will act as the foundation for these services in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, empowering us take customer service to the next level and capitalise on the huge growth opportunities that these markets offer,” he said.

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