Close Search Search

The conduit connecting the worlds air transport industry 

Frederic Risdorfer, Director Product Management: SITA Messaging, explains the pivotal role of efficient data exchange in the air travel industry. In an industry characterized by narrow profit margins, streamlined data exchange becomes indispensable for business-critical processes, operational efficiency, and ensuring an impeccable passenger experience.

You’ve been with SITA for more than 13 years; what sustains your enthusiasm for the air travel industry and your role?

Working at SITA, a specialist IT provider, enables me to be part of something that offers enormous value to the air transport industry. That is why, after 13 years with SITA, this role is still so rewarding. I am passionate about telecommunications services, mobility, communication and data exchange – essentials for airlines to function effectively, securely and reliably.

Our services directly impact industry operations, the digitalization of air transport and the implementation of new business processes, so we always need to be ready to ensure business continuity for our customers to operate 24/7. Our clients can use the SITA Messaging platform to safely, and securely, receive and deliver information using the most advanced technology.

What are some of the challenges your customers are experiencing?

In a low-margin industry like air travel, every dollar saved counts. Since we support so many processes, we are essentially the backbone enabling the industry to operate efficiently and securely. Our services enhance operational efficiency, allowing airlines to control and reduce operating costs significantly.

Another major challenge lies in managing the complexity of the air traffic ecosystem that requires access to up-to-date mission-critical messages and heightened levels of data exchange. With our multi-system platform, we can support everything in the ecosystem, from baggage handling to passenger booking and boarding information, flight plans, aircraft maintenance, cargo operations and all the operational messages an airline needs to take off and land.

Globally, data exchange is accelerating exponentially. In our industry, today’s new-generation aircraft produce significant amounts of data, all of which must be analyzed and shared. In this environment, our role is to keep delivering all the data required by the industry in as near to real-time data exchange as possible. We are the market leader, accounting for between 40% to 45% of the data that goes through the industry’s exchanges that use a service provider. SITA alone delivers in the region of 40 to 50 million messages a day.

Can you share an example of how SITA Messaging helps the industry be more efficient and save costs?

A great example is around spare parts for aircraft. SITA Messaging makes it possible – almost in real-time – for an airline to pick up the need to change a part on a specific plane. While the aircraft is still in the air, information about the health and status of the plane can be shared by the airline with its suppliers and, in accordance with an industry standard called Spec 2000, a needed part can ordered and delivered to the destination. Once the aircraft lands, the supplier is ready to change the spare part so the plane can fly again.

This proactive approach ensures minimal downtime, a critical factor given the significant financial ramifications. A single hour of downtime can cost an airline between US$ 10, 000 to US$ 150, 000, depending on the airport fees and the impact of delayed or canceled flights on passengers, catering and crew staffing requirements.  

It's also worth noting that SITA Messaging follows industry standards for message handling to enable airlines to operate seamlessly across diverse countries and languages, ensuring a cohesive and efficient communication framework.

How do you help the air traffic industry to evolve?

We do this in several different ways. In terms of availability, performance and the technology we use, SITA Messaging continues to propose and deliver services that add value to our customers. We regularly engage with our customers and industry bodies to make sure we provide what they need.

In our discussions with new or potential customers, for instance, we start by understanding the criticality of the messages they must send and the volume. Some customers have a few minutes to send a flight plan to flight control to take off, so they need a high-performance, time-sensitive solution. Others, who have a lower volume of messages, may prefer a human interface. We have different solutions – from providing solutions for manual messaging with our SITATEX platform to rolling out a simple high-performance solution using our SITA Data Connect API.

If we don’t have an appropriate solution in our portfolio, then we will analyze if we have an available technology and even consider entering into a proof of concept with a customer, which could result in the innovation becoming a standard product in our portfolio. Our recently launched SITA Data Connect API messaging service came about as a result of a customer request, and uptake is now growing around the world.

What tools and solutions are SITA Messaging developing for the future?

We continue investing in new technologies to help air transport stakeholders communicate effectively with one another using a secure technology of their choice. To this end, we are really trying to understand and analyze what our customers will need from us in the future. With these insights we can drive the development of new services that help the industry to better manage its processes and operations more efficiently using specific APIs and truly mobile applications.

At our core, we are dedicated to anticipating our customers’ evolving needs. This enables us to spearhead the creation of cutting-edge services that empower the industry to revolutionize its processes and operations. By harnessing the potential of tailored APIs and next-generation mobile applications, we are committed to unlocking unprecedented levels of efficiency and productivity for our customers.