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Coming to an airport near you: better connectivity

Published on  19 May by Benoit Vedel , Head of Airport Communications & Wireless, SITA
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You’re at some out-of-the-way airport trying to download a film for the flight or trying to view an attachment sent by your work colleague, but the connection is somewhere between slow and slower. It is a frustrating experience that leaves a bad impression.

For the airlines using the airport you might expect that they get a much better deal with industrial strength connectivity for their critical IT, but that is not always the case.

Connectivity can vary dramatically from airport to airport making it difficult for airlines to run operations and offer passengers the same high level of service at far flung destinations as they do at their main hub airports.

Poor connectivity can slow check-in and boarding processes and impact an airline’s ability to keep their non hub airport systems in sync with essential data.

It is not a new problem. Airlines have always been dependent on telecommunications to link their airport-based IT to their back-end reservation and departure control systems, which are often sited thousands of kilometers away in a different country.

And it’s not the only problem. Dealing with the local telecom provider in each country to get good quality connectivity is an expensive and time-consuming burden for airlines. A typical regional airline might fly to airports in 20 or more different countries, while for a large international carrier it could be well over 150 countries, meaning 150 separate telecom companies to negotiate with.

Given the long lead times that local telcos often require to provide connectivity, it can put off - or at least slow - airlines from rolling out new technology-based services at some of their remote airports.

It was an issue that airlines drew to our attention some years ago and led to the introduction of SITA’s AirportHub™. It is a robust airport-wide communication platform shared by airlines and other airport-based tenants.

It saves airlines from the cost and hassle of sourcing their own dedicated networking equipment from local telcos and as SITA operates at airports worldwide it means we can act as a single supplier for international connectivity at all the airports on an airline’s route network. Airlines prefer this one-stop-shop approach because it allows them to follow a standard process in a language of their choice, regardless of geographic location.

As AirportHub only offers international communications it does not compete with local airport IT services, so it has been greatly welcomed not only by the airlines but also airports.

In particular, it simplifies life for the airport by cutting the tangle of dedicated WAN and LAN cabling and helps provide airlines with the same high service levels they get at their hub airports. SITA installs and fully manages the platform on behalf of the airport tenants with no cost to the airport operator.

It has been a SITA success story. Through our community approach we have been able to work closely with both airports and airlines to bring about a win-win solution to the problem. In fact, AirportHub is already used at over 200 international airports in 79 countries, including 17 of the world’s top 20 airports such as Hartsfield-Jackson, Paris-Charles De Gaulle and Beijing Capital International Airport.

While a great achievement, it is far from the end of the story.

The risk from having unreliable connectivity and limited bandwidth is growing for airlines. The rollout of data intensive self-service and mobility solutions to the fringes of their route network is putting greater strain on airport IT resources.

We’ve have therefore expanded the capabilities of AirportHub to provide cloud services, as well as integrated mobile wireless connectivity both for mobile devices and for the latest generation of e-enabled aircraft.

In the coming years we will also be extending the footprint of AirportHub to around 700 locations, covering 80% of all airline destinations so stay tuned for further updates and if you want further information check out our AirportHub® white paper or feel free to contact me at

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