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HP, PwC head for friendly skies

The computing giant teams up with the accounting firm--whose management consulting arm it had once sought to buy--to boost Internet and wireless use at airlines and airports.

Hewlett-Packard and PricewaterhouseCoopers on Tuesday said that they have teamed up to create new products and services to boost the use of the Internet and wireless devices at airlines and airports.

Dubbed the Aviation Solution Center, the joint venture will pull together shared resources of people, products and services from PwC's aviation consulting practice and HP's computing and consulting teams to help design and install new technology to operate and improve certain areas of airlines, airports and related companies.

The venture will focus on, among other things, helping airports find ways to use wireless devices to improve communications in areas such as ground and ramp activities and baggage handling. HP and PwC will also focus on helping airports and airlines use the Web to access customer data by through Internet-based software that manages customer relationships and call centers.

Both companies are aiming to nab a portion of a very lucrative pie. HP and PwC see the market for software and consulting services in the aviation industry to be worth around $15 billion annually.

The venture between the two companies comes after HP last November dropped its bid to acquire PwC's management consulting arm. HP has since touted its commitment to growing its consulting and services business.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based computing giant recently launched HP Services, a new division centered on accelerating the growth of its information technology services business. Earlier this month, HP broadened a services pact with PwC rival Accenture. Longtime HP executive Ann Livermore will lead the company's new unit, charged with beefing up its activities in areas such as consulting, technology outsourcing and support.

The joint aviation center is designed to work with customers in a flexible and collaborative manner, sharing the costs and rewards of developing and implementing new products and services. PwC and HP did not disclose how much they expect to generate in shared revenue as part of the agreement.