Awards to SITA founders

Awards to SITA founders

Q3 2019
Awards to SITA founders

Accepting Founder and 70th Anniversary Awards at the ‘SITA 70th Anniversary and Awards Dinner’, L-R: Nicolas Nelson (Air France), Erik Swelheim (KLM), Paul Elich (KLM), Jean-Christophe Lalanne (Air France), Edwin Borst (Air France KLM), Frédéric Gagey (Air France KLM). Presented by Ashish Jain, SITA Council President.

The SITA Annual General Assembly and the SITA Innovation Forum on 19-20 June 2019 provided the ideal opportunity to recognize the airlines who founded SITA 70 years ago, as well as to celebrate other significant SITA member anniversaries.

Present SITA executives joined former SITA executives who were invited to the 'SITA 70th Anniversary Awards Dinner' as special guests. L-R: Paul Coby, with SITA from 2000-2016, served as Chair of the Board; Christoph Klingenberg, with SITA from 2010-2014, served as President of the Council; Riccardo Lippi, with SITA from 1989-2012, served as Board Vice-Chair; Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, 2003-2016; Dr Omar Jefri, present Chair of the Board; Barbara Dalibard, present SITA CEO; Ashish Jain, present Council President; Phillip Hawker, with SITA from 2013-2016, served as Council Deputy-President; Jappe Blaauw, with SITA from 2009-2018, served as Council President; Matthew Billings, with SITA from 2009-2017, served as Board Vice-Chair; Adrian Coppini, with SITA from 2011-2013, served as Council Deputy-President.

A story of collaboration begins...

The story began in late 1947 with ICAO considering the co-ordination of telecommunications. KLM’s President met the head of Air France. They agreed the idea of an independent company with airlines as shareholders and users.

Others were approached to join the collaborative project. In February 1949, SITA was born, when 11 airlines approved its creation.

The pursuit of seamless passenger travel!

A press article at the time reported that “the primary object is to eliminate excessive delays in dealing with administrative messages. There will also be a resultant benefit to the public through speedier handling of reservations”. So even in its first days, SITA was pursuing the idea of seamless passenger travel!

A time of great change

It was also a time of industrial and social change, and aviation was very much a part of it. Just five months after SITA’s launch, those airline chiefs will have witnessed the world’s first jet airliner take to the skies, the British Comet. It marked the introduction of a new era of speed and comfort in the aviation industry.

70th Anniversary Awards Dinner

The room is ready for the ‘SITA 70th Anniversary and Awards Dinner’ at the SITA Annual General Assembly and Innovation Forum.

Ben Sehovic of British Airways accepts Honorary SITA Founder Award Michael Mueller of Brussels Airlines accepts Honorary SITA Founder Award


Bjorn Fagerstedt (left) and Jeff Markstedt of SAS accept Honorary SITA Founder Award


70th Anniversary celebrations

Some of the founders were recognized on the evening on 19th June at the ‘SITA 70th Anniversary and Awards Dinner.’

Two of those founding airlines continue in business to this day. Others have merged or changed over the years. Presented by SITA Council President Ashish Jain, the awards went to:

  • Air France and KLM, the two original airlines whose discussions led to the creation of SITA. Representatives from both Air France and KLM collected the founders awards, including: Jean-Christophe Lalanne, Nicolas Nelson, Paul Elich, Erik Swelheim, Frédéric Gagey and Edwin Borst.
  • British Airways, formed from three of the original SITA founders: British Overseas Airways Corporation, British European Airways and British South American Airways. The award was collected by Ben Sehovic.
  • SAS, formed from the coming together in 1951 of three Scandinavian airlines who were among the original 11 founders: the Swedish airline A.G.Aerotransport, the Danish airline Det Danske Luftfartselskab and the Norwegian Det Norske Luftfartselskap. The award was collected by Bjorn Fagerstedt and Jeff Markstedt.
  • Brussels Airlines. The original founding company, Sabena, became Brussels Airlines in 2005. The award was collected by Michael Mueller.