A new era of connectivity for air transport

Over the next 15 years, a further 500 airports will be commissioned. Existing airports will see capacity growth of more than 40%.

The air transport industry’s connectivity demands are increasing exponentially. As a new networking era beckons, it calls for new models, more bandwidth and the ultimate flexibility.

The connectivity demands of airlines and their industry partners are evolving radically with the continued adoption of new generation aircraft and applications.

Within four years, the industry will see as many as 2,000 new generation aircraft in operation. By 2020, 25% of commercial aircraft will be connected, or in the industry’s parlance, ‘e-enabled’. That means monitoring 440,000 parameters on an Airbus A350, for example, or 1,400 software parts on a Boeing 787.

In just two years’ time, more than 75% of airlines will have deployed crew tablets. The bulk of this connectivity will happen at or through the airport. It will require a massive rise in resource to satisfy an insatiable demand, on demand.

At the same time, over the next 15 years, a further 500 airports will be commissioned. Existing airports will see capacity growth of more than 40%.

Networks needs

“Powerful trends like this will drive requirements not just for greater bandwidth, but also for connectivity on demand,” says Dan Ebbinghaus, SVP Communications & Infrastructure Solutions, SITA.

“Airline and airport networks will need far greater flexibility too, so that communication services can support fast route changes and sudden peaks in demand, along with seasonal variations as a result of holiday services.”

“And as cloud services disruptively change the data environment – both corporately and for passengers – our industry will need agile and cost-effective approaches to exploit the cloud’s major potential for the future,” he adds.

Global, local

To cater for air transport’s fast emerging and future connectivity needs, SITA has embarked on a transformational program to deliver new levels of global and local network services specifically for the industry.

Already the industry’s leading network services provider, SITA uniquely covers 220 countries and territories, as well as 95% of all international destinations. That includes 13,500 air transport sites and over 15,000 IP connections.

“New agreements with global network partner Orange Business Services, as well as with leading regional providers around the world, strengthen our unrivalled geographical coverage for air transport,” says Ebbinghaus.

“At the same time, with our new network offering SITA customers have access to the best suppliers in every corner of the globe, able to offer them the best value, competitiveness, service and capacity.”


That’s good news for the fast evolving air transport industry, which by 2030 will see 18,000 potential communications users at airports, along with 500 new airports (a 30%  increase), and a 40% capacity growth in existing airports.

SITA’s new agreements will enable this evolution, building on the company’s already unrivalled airport footprint of 1,200 different airports served by 700 airlines. This represents 9,000 cumulated international destinations, 95% of which SITA is currently able to serve.

As aviation becomes increasingly connected, these evolved network services will prove to be critical.  Orange Business Services’ CEO Thierry Bonhomme believes that such “connectivity is key to the digital transformation that the air transport industry is undertaking.”

He adds: “We are pleased to have strengthened our partnership with SITA to offer the connectivity and operational excellence that this industry needs across the world.”

On the ground

The integration of regional third-party operators will ensure even more ‘expertise on the ground’ due to the long-standing relationships these operators have with local access providers and governments.

“With flexible connectivity around the world, we will provide airlines with reduced lead time to connect, connectivity on demand and improved application performance,” says Ebbinghaus. 

“For the rapidly emerging aviation markets of Africa, the Middle East and Latin American, SITA’s regional partners bring particular strengths in terms of offering airlines and airports more value and greater capacity to meet changing business needs,” he adds.

Single-point service

SITA’s new approach is backed by a single integrated service, delivery and operations. This brings to the air transport industry all the advantages of a multi-partner approach, using key regional partners and including the provision of ultra-flexible services.

But it also comes with the benefit of dealing with a single trusted data supplier, SITA, for all communications needs, including network management, integration and support.

“By focusing on each of our strengths we are providing air transport players with the best of both worlds through an integrated global service,” says Bonhomme.

These services will also include seasonal bandwidth and bandwidth on demand to cater to the various business models of low cost carriers, hybrids and full service carriers. This will enable airlines to test new routes, or operate seasonal destinations more cost effectively.

New service center

According to Bonhomme, “we are also making available an expanded range of value-added communication services such as contact center solutions or unified communication services. This will further support the transformation of SITA’s air transport customers beyond connectivity.”

That means a new SITA Network Services Delivery and Operations Center will underpin SITA’s enhanced network capabilities. Setting up the new center marks a major transformation in the partnership model between SITA and Orange Business Services.

The center will be dedicated to air transport industry customers and run by industry specialists. It will operate 24/7 to deliver, integrate, manage and support all network services globally.

“All customers will benefit in performance terms with the launch of this industry-dedicated service desk that’s being integrated into the SITA Command Center,” says Ebbinghaus.

“This one specialist point will have global responsibility for the smooth running of network services delivery and operations, including Airport Hub, IP services and SITA’s data backbone."

Game changer

“Full service carriers, hybrids and LCCs – as well as almost any airport around the world – will all able to take advantage of SITA’s unique footprint of the highest quality network services available, enabling them to embrace the opportunities offered by the data revolution,” says Ebbinghaus.

"It’s a game changing development for the air transport industry worldwide.”

A milestone for air transport

SITA and strategic partner Orange Business Services signed a five-year agreement with in September 2014 to provide network services worldwide.

A significant milestone for SITA and air transport, the agreement will enhance the industry’s network services, strengthening their reach, focus on operational excellence, and the ability to meet the fast-evolving connectivity needs of airlines, airport and industry partners.

The agreement will greatly expand communications capabilities at airports around the world. 

SITA will provide network services in additional countries and territories directly and will integrate and manage five leading regional providers, to provide further services through SITA as a single provider integrating services, delivery and operations.

Interconnections with regional partners are well underway, with a new value-added communication services portfolio available.

Feature sets will continue to be developed, addressing the ever emerging requirements for bandwidth, mobility, cloud, and more.

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