iOS takes off at Air France: an interview with Jean-Christophe Lalanne

By Danny Palmer
24 Jul 2013 View Comments
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The travel industry is all about getting people comfortably and efficiently to their destination, with Air France-KLM transporting millions of passengers a year, to places as far flung as Los Angeles and Tokyo.

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But it isn’t just the airline’s customers who want their needs catered for whilst on the move, with the firm’s staff increasingly relying on access to company systems from a variety of locations, including plane cabins. To meet this need, the airline’s CIO, Jean-Christophe Lalanne, has equipped employees with iPhones and iPads.

“We’re deploying iPads for the cabin crew and for the technical crew. For technical crews, the iPads provide access to electronic documents and flight plans. The cabin crews use them to access CRM tools, applications to allocate resources. We are progressively pushing mobile devices for all categories of mobile workers,” he told Computing at the recent SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels.

One of the biggest worries for IT leaders when it comes to the use of mobile devices in the workplace is security, but Air France is confident it has the issue covered.

“Security is of course something that we have taken into account since the beginning. We rely on a MDM [mobile device management] platform and also we have discussed with the pilots what really needs to be secure,” said Lalanne.

“We protect some documents or some search engines with a password and encrypt the information, and, of course, we have authentication. Security is an issue but it’s perfectly solvable.”

Air France is so keen to encourage staff to use mobile devices, it has introduced a scheme that helps staff to acquire their own iPhone or iPad, thus solving what Lalanne calls “the BYOD dilemma”.

“We enable each and every employee to get to their email, their agenda and so on using their devices. And also we have a policy that helps them acquire their own device – if they want an iPhone or iPad, we have negotiated prices – but at the end of the day, it’s their own device, totally. If they want to get their work email on their device, no problem, it’s possible,” he said, adding that Air France staff can use their company-provided smartphones or tablets as they wish.  

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