SITA history

SITA was a pioneer in international telecommunications for the air transport industry and has continued to operate at the forefront of technology.

From its foundation as Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques, SITA has aimed to bring airlines' existing air transport communications facilities together. This allows organizations and the wider industry to take advantage of shared infrastructure cost efficiencies.

SITA now serves around 450 members worldwide. These members include airlines, airports, aerospace companies, GDSs, air traffic management organizations, air freight businesses, governments and international organizations.

Key events in SITA history










1940s SITA HistorySITA is founded by eleven airlines: Air France, KLM, Sabena, Swissair, TWA, British European Airways Corporation (BEAC), British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), British South American Airways (BSAA), Swedish A.G.Aerotransport, Danish Det Danske Luftfartselskab A/S and Noweigan Det Norske Luftfartselskap.


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1950s SITA HistorySITA opens its first telecommunications centre in Rome. Information is manually transmitted using perforated tape and teleprinters. This is the first generation of the world's largest network.


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1960s SITA HistoryThe first computer adapted for message switching opens in Frankfurt.




SITA's High Level Network is implemented. This leads to the development of the world's first worldwide packet switching network dedicated to business traffic. This is the second generation of the world's largest communications network.


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1970s SITA HistoryInteractive data exchange between terminals becomes available. SITA implements its first satellite processor. This vastly expands the number of locations to be equipped with computerized systems.



SITA creates International Telecommunications Services, or ITS (later, Equant Integration Services). ITS provides integrated network solutions and maintenance to SITA members.


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80s SITA HistoryThe SITA network expands with the introduction of the Data Transport Network. This is the third generation of the world's largest network.



SITA's first air-ground service, VHF AIRCOM, is introduced. SITA's Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) system launches – enabling airlines to share check-in terminals.


SITA membership is extended to include computer reservations systems, aerospace manufacturers, tour operators, airfreight forwarders, airport authorities and other related air transport organizations.


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1990s SITA HistoryThe Mega-Transport Network becomes operational. This forms the fourth generation of the world's largest network.



Air-to-ground telephony is introduced with SATELLITE AIRCOM. The first communications are initiated from on board an Air France and Lufthansa Boeing 747-400.


SITA launches AeroNet as the intranet for the aerospace and air transport community.


Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology begins to be installed over the SITA network. It enables the transport of mixed voice and data traffic. This is the fifth generation of the world's largest network.


SITA raises $billions for the air transport industry with the public offering of Equant (now Orange Business Services).


SITA partners with CPS Systems to create the world's first global electronic visa system.


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2000s SITA HistorySITA acquires the Equant Applications Services (EAS) business unit from Equant (now Orange Business Services). The unit is to operate as SITA Advanced Travel Solutions – and will continue to provide web-based applications and e-commerce integration services for the travel and transport sectors.

Aviareto is set up by international treaty. Aviareto is a joint venture with the Irish government to provide a global registry to safeguard lending rights, launches.


SITA creates SITA INC as a commercial company. SITA SC continues to provide communications services on a not-for-profit co-operative basis.

SITA acquires the private company Eland Technologies,a provider of advanced solutions for the travel industry. Eland becomes part of SITA’s Passenger and Travel Solutions business unit.


CHAMP Cargosystems is jointly set up by SITA Cargo (UK) Ltd with Cargolux. CHAMP is the world’s only company solely dedicated to the provision of IT solutions to the air cargo industry, with over 60 airline customers.

.aero launches. SITA sponsors the .aero Top Level Domain name on behalf of the aviation community. .aero is reserved exclusively for aviation.


OnAir, a joint venture with SITA and Airbus, launches. It is the leading pioneer of inflight communications. The service brings the use of mobile phones and other personal communications devices on board aircraft.

CertiPath, a SITA venture with Exostar and ARINC, launches. Certipath is established to design, implement and market a secure Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) bridge – enabling the use of “trusted” digital identities globally.


With industry trends moving towards communications and IT convergence, SITA consolidates into a single organization. It focuses on providing global integrated communications and IT services to the air transport industry.


Air France becomes the first airline in the world to offer an in-flight mobile phone service on international flights using OnAir.

SITA creates a new, powerful software division.

The next generation passenger management investment begins.


CHAMP acquires specialist cargo software company Softair AG, expanding its customer base and offering the logistics market a proven next generation system.

SITA Lab is set up to innovate collaboratively with customers for community benefit, in areas such as mobility and wireless.

SITA consolidates its leadership in border management by becoming the first IT provider worldwide to receive US government approval to transmit passenger data at check-in, based on its Advance Passenger Information Quick Query (AQQ) service.

SITA embarks on a major Service Desk Integration and the Next Generation Data Centers investment begins.


SITA commemorates 60 years of working for the air transport industry.

SITA makes strategic agreements with Orange Business Services and Oracle.


A new Command Center opens in Montreal.

SITA acquires WorkBridge and Com-Net as it strives towards the intelligent airport vision.


A new Command Center opens in Singapore.

SITA members vote for a stronger SITA model with exclusive air transport inustry focus.


SITA sets out 2020 Vision and Strategy, embracing the need to use IT to work collaboratively across the air transport industry.


SITA takes majority ownership of its OnAir subsidiary.


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