Virgin Atlantic expands 17-year relationship with TCS as it begins Covid-19 crisis recovery

Virgin Atlantic has expanded its longstanding relationship with IT services supplier Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as it begins its recovery from the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK airline has used TCS’s IT services for 17 years, but the Indian supplier will become more embedded under the new agreement, which will include the transfer of 70 Virgin Atlantic IT professionals to TCS.

Back in 2005, Virgin Atlantic hired TCS to develop software for a three-month trial to assess how radio-frequency identification (RFID) could be used to record information about aircraft components. Today it is taking full responsibility for end-to-end operational management and digital transformation for the airline.

TCS will support Virgin Atlantic in the adoption of Microsoft Azure cloud technology, with a “cloud-first” guiding principle.

The contextual knowledge of the Virgin Atlantic IT team will be integrated into TCS through the staff transfer.

The pandemic hit the transport and travel industry hard, with lockdowns enforced by governments to reduce the spread of the virus having severe effects on the sector.

Ash Jokhoo, CIO at Virgin Atlantic, said: “As we emerge from a period of great challenge and transition, our strong foundations and belief in our partnership with TCS remains integral to our strategy for future transformation.

“From the outset of our working relationship, TCS’s deep-rooted expertise in the airline industry and innovative approach to digital solutions has consistently helped us transform the modern-day flight experience.”

Arun Pradeep, business head, travel & hospitality, Europe & UK at TCS, added: “The travel and hospitality industry is leveraging digital innovations to reimagine the experience for consumers looking forward to a positive return to air travel post-pandemic. We warmly welcome Virgin Atlantic’s employees into TCS, where they will see diverse opportunities for learning and career growth.”

TCS is increasing its workforce in Europe through acquisition and, as with Virgin, the transfer of staff from customers.

In November 2020, 1,500 staff with extensive skills in SAP banking skills transferred from Deutsche Bank to TCS when the supplier acquired Postbank Systems, the IT operation of Deutsche Bank-owned Postbank, as part of its long-term $100m-plus relationship with one of Europe’s biggest companies. It also took on 1,500 staff in Ireland when it acquired the IT unit of another customer, Prudential Financial.

TCS paid €1 for Postbank Systems and no money changed hands for the Prudential IT unit, although huge cost savings are expected.