Thousands of SITA’s self-service kiosks are used by millions of air passengers in scores of airports worldwide – and every one of them is made in the company’s own manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Toronto. SITA’s Burlington-based kiosk business employs a range of experts and is a vital cog in the global travel industry.
Based in Burlington, on the shores of Canada’s Lake Ontario less than 40 miles (60km) from Toronto, SITA’s kiosk business began as a manufacturing sub-contract with Northrop Grumman Canada. The company had acquired the business from Westinghouse in 1996, who had been manufacturing in the town since the late 1960s.
With a population of approximately 180,000, Burlington is strategically located in the most prosperous area of Canada – a densely populated and industrialized region of over 8 million people known as the Golden Horseshoe – making it a prime location for high profile companies, and with a growing emphasis on technology and innovation.
The city has been consistently ranked as one of Canada’s best places to live – including the best medium-sized city for living, the best place for new immigrants, and the fourth best place to retire. It gets marks for “mild weather, low unemployment, high incomes, low crime, and a thriving arts community.”
The first SITA kiosks were made in 1997 with a small 10 inch (25cm) screen and shipped to Alaska Airlines and Northwest Airlines. (See ‘Kiosk advances’.) However, the potential for this new kind of customer service rapidly became self-evident and SITA began to design and build its own line of kiosks – before purchasing the air travel products business from Northrop Grumman in 2001.
In June 2016, the SITA kiosk team relocated the business to a brand new 3,250 sqm (35,000 sqft) base on Clay Avenue in Burlington. The state of the art facility has been built to a state-of-the-art specification, providing a strong basis for future development and growth.
Some 45 people are employed at Burlington, including design engineers and operational staff dealing with purchasing, materials movement, assembly/testing, quality assurance, warehouse management, logistics, finance, after sales support and many other roles.
Many staff are long-serving and it is very much thanks to their experience, skills and dedication that SITA in Burlington continues to thrive – shipping up to 1,400 kiosks a year to 300 operational sites in every corner of the world
Overall, SITA employs around 320 people in Canada, with two-thirds of that number based at the company’s Command Centre in Montréal, and the balance at Burlington and SITA’s software development center in Vancouver.