BEA, airline alliance sign infrastructure software deal

Applications infrastructure company BEA Systems Inc. has inked a five-year deal to sell its software to a global airline consortium whose members will be able to exploit group purchasing discounts.

The San Jose-based software maker on Tuesday announced the new sales relationship with the 15-member Star Alliance airline network, which includes high-profile carriers such as United Airlines Inc. and Lufthansa AG. While both of these airlines are already customers of BEA’s application server and integration technology, other members have never had a relationship with BEA before.

Star Alliance members and the alliance itself have developed ticketing, baggage-handling and customer-loyalty software applications on the BEA WebLogic Platform in recent years, the company said. Under the new agreement, BEA’s WebLogic Server and WebLogic Integration will become the alliance’s preferred application server and integration software, respectively.

Selling to a consortium of companies is a first for BEA, said Mark Carges, executive vice president of global accounts. He declined to estimate the range of savings any given company will enjoy.

“This is the first time we’ve sold to companies that weren’t financially linked or subsidiaries,” said Carges. “They’re not tied to one another except they’ve joined the Star Alliance. We’ll do volume purchase agreements they can use across the enterprise.”

He noted that the Star Alliance has used its buying clout in the past to purchase things such as jet fuel, as well as identity protection software from Novell Inc.

“We are always looking for new and meaningful ways to help our members operate more profitably and efficiently,” Michael Stagl, CIO at Star Alliance, said in a statement. “This agreement with BEA gives our 15 members the opportunity to introduce BEA’s innovative application platform suite at a cost that no single airline would be able to negotiate.”

BEA is open to similar deals with other industry groups, Carges said, but there are “none at this time to speak of.”

Air Canada and Air New Zealand are also members of the Star Alliance.

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