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July 12, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

The second body blow in a month was delivered to Unisys Corp’s strategy of maintaining two incompatible mainframe lines when one of the biggest US users of Sperry 1100 mainframes, United Airlines’ Apollo reservation system, now run by a subsidiary called Covia, announced that it had agreed to join forces with the major IBM users among European airlines – led by British Airways – to create a single worldwide reservation system based on IBM hardware. British Airways will contribute its BABS and Travicom systems, United its Apollo system, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines its Corda system and Swissair its Traviswiss system, and other airlines are being invited to join. A new central organisation is to be formed, location to be decided, that will be employing about 370 people within 12 months, and the partners are planning to invest $120m or so in the venture. As a first step, the partners plan complete integration of their existing systems by 1988, while they build a completely new central mainframe complex that will largely replace their existing systems in mid-1989. While the loss of the Apollo business is a devastating blow for Unisys Corp, coming as it does after its four biggest European airline customers, Air France, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines System and Iberia decided to abandon their present system for a new shared system called Amadeus (CI No 709), the runaway winner in the revolution going on in the airline world is IBM. Both Amadeus and the unnamed British Airways-United system are to be based on IBM hardware, and British Airways talks in terms of maximising the benefits of the new generation of personal computers such as IBM’s PS/2. The target is for at least 75m European travel arrangements to be made through the system by 1990.

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