UAE's Etihad Airways signs $700 million IT deal with IBM

A model Etihad Airways plane is seen on stage before the unveiling of the new home jersey for the New York City Football Club in New York November 13, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has signed a 10-year $700 million deal with IBM for a range of information technology services and infrastructure, the companies said on Tuesday.

The state-owned airline with equity stakes in Alitalia [CAITLA.UL] and Air Berlin among others chose IBM to move its IT infrastructure to cloud-based platforms to serve its clients better, a statement said.

IBM will provide a global technology framework for Etihad and its partners, including setting up a cloud data center in Abu Dhabi that will be developed and operated by IBM, one of the first such facilities in the Middle East, the statement said.

IBM said in December that 2014 was a breakthrough year for its cloud business and that it was aiming to expand the number of client data around the world by 25 percent.

In the last quarter of 2014, IBM struck major deals with airline Lufthansa, Dutch bank ABN Amro and advertising giant WPP, for example.

Robert Webb, chief information & technology officer of Etihad, said the deal would provide the airline and its partners with a secure and resilient delivery platform.

Among the fastest growing airlines in the world, Etihad carried 14.8 million passengers in 2014 and serves 113 passenger and cargo destinations.

Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; editing by David Clarke