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Air transport IT provider, SITA, is 70 years old and celebrated the milestone at its annual Innovation Forum in Belgium this week.

The organisation, which has been at the heart of the airline industry since 1949, marked the occasion by announcing record revenuesof $1.7billion in 2018.

At its recent AGM, SITA’s CEO, Barbara Dalibard, outlined its path of growth noting how SITA has remained a vital part of the industry over the past seven decades by continually evolving.

Along with the highest ever revenues, 2018 also marked a turning point for the company as its application-led business overtook its connectivity business.

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In 1949, 11 airlines joined together to establish the communications infrastructure which remains at the heart of this interconnected global industry.

Today, nearly every passenger flight relies on SITA technology. In total, 95% of all international destinations and over 13,500 industry sites are connected by SITA’s network.

Over the decades, SITA has delivered many innovations including; the first common-use infrastructure at airports, the first airline e-commerce booking engine and the first e-visa system for border management.

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Dalibard noted: “It is wonderful that as SITA celebrates this anniversary, we continue to transform to meet our customers’ needs.

“From when SITA took its first steps to create the world’s largest data network in 1949 to today’s software-defined networks (SDN) and tech-savvy passengers, we are transforming to deliver a more efficient industry and a better passenger experience with easy travel every step of the way.”

Over the past two days, SITA also hosted its annual Innovation Forum, an exclusive event to investigate how new technologies, including artificial intelligence, biometrics and blockchain could be harnessed to deliver more efficient operations and a seamless passenger journey.

This year’s event brought together leading minds from airlines and airports from across the world, along with experts from outside the industry to challenge each other to think about the changes that will impact air travel in the next five years, and how the industry can innovate for the future.

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Technology will be necessary for the industry to deal with more passengers, more baggage, more aircraft, more security threats, more regulations and greater passenger expectations. 

As the industry embraces technology, SITA believes that it is critical that all the stakeholders work together.

“The challenge is clear: over the next 20 years, passenger traffic is forecasted to double, while airport capacity will grow at a much slower pace. This requires a new approach to air travel,” stated Dalibard.

“We are already using emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, biometrics and SDN, to enable more efficient operations at airports and on aircraft, but we must continue to innovate with the industry to shape the future of air travel.”

SITA has more than 400 members including airlines, airports, airport-based organisations, and air traffic management providers.


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