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by Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO, IATA

This year we are celebrating the centenary of the first scheduled commercial airline flight. From humble beginnings in 1914, commercial aviation evolved into the global air transport system that will safely connect some 3.3 billion travelers and 52 million tons of air cargo this year.

Partnerships were critical to driving aviation’s success over its first century, of which IATA’s relationship with SITA is a good example. Our focus is on helping airlines to be successful. Indeed, airlines have come to expect IATA and SITA to deliver value to their businesses. And that expectation is distinctly global in both scope and nature.

Delivering value to airlines through global standards is at the heart of the IATA-SITA partnership. WorldTracer is a joint offering that has been helping passengers reconnect with their luggage for decades. And today SITA common use self-service systems—developed on IATA standards—are at the core of a Fast Travel initiative to enable airlines and airports to benefit from interoperability while giving air travelers more control over their travel experience.

Fast Travel, in turn, is a part of the Simplifying the Business initiative which turns 10 years old in June. In a decade the key components of e-tickets, kiosks and bar-coded boarding passes have enabled a revolution in air travel. Passengers value the control over their travel experience and airlines rely on the savings of both time and money.

Distribution is now the focus of a transformation. There is a gap between the rich content that airlines can distribute through their websites and the more limited offerings available through travel agents. New Distribution Capability (NDC) will close that gap with a new XML-based language standard for electronic communications between airlines and travel agents.

Realizing the full potential of NDC to deliver value will also need strong partners, from building the standard right through implementation. It is the latest confirmation of the fundamental lesson from aviation’s first century—flying is and will remain a team effort.

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