Airline Sita posts profit

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The airline industry`s house IT company posts solid results as rising fuel prices decimate airlines.The Airline IT Society (Sita), which is owned by a consortium of global airlines, is reporting consolidated revenue of $1.42 billion for the 2007 financial year, and adds it has drummed up new business worth $1 billion for a second straight year.

Sita chairman Paul Coby says the results were driven by Sita`s “successful re-organisation into a single company with a strong global network”.

Coby says about 42% of new business came from communications services and 56% from application services.

The company`s ownership structure also played a role, he said, and “the fact that we are owned and governed by our customers” distinguished Sita from its competitors.

Sita CEO Francesco Violante says his management team “achieved, or over-achieved on all their key performance indicators”. This, he said, included revenue of $1.42 billion; “a healthy pre-tax margin of $59 million; record new business of $1.12 billion; significant cost savings to Sita members, including price reductions of more than $25 million for network customers; and over-achievement of customer satisfaction levels, with 88% of customers saying they are satisfied or very satisfied”.

Violante says Sita signed over 3 000 contracts last year. “Last year, Sita issued 32.4 million e-tickets compared with 10.6 million the year before, and boarded 112.5 million passengers, up 10.8% on the previous year. Sita has also maintained its position as a world leader in check-in solutions, which were used by 600 million passengers last year.”

Violante adds that the company is investing for future growth, particularly through the creation of a world-class R&D facility, the Sita Lab, established last year. It has also invested in two joint ventures, OnAir and Champ Cargosystems, co-owned by CargoLux.

OnAir, co-owned by aircraft builder Airbus, is focused on in-flight mobile telephony, while Champ Cargosystems is “the world`s only IT company solely dedicated to air cargo”.

Violante says Air France, in December, became the first airline to offer an in-flight mobile phone service on international flights using the OnAir service. Champ Cargosystems, meanwhile, acquired SoftAir AG to strengthen its position in the global supply chain market for air cargo. “We think this acquisition gives us a full end-to-end capability in air cargo,” says Sita chairman Paul Coby.

Coby adds low-cost Irish airline Ryan Air will be the next telephony customer, with 27 aircraft. Coby adds that a Chinese carrier is also keen to fit phones to at least one aircraft before the August Olympics in Beijing.

Sita also operates two other joint ventures that provide services to the air transport community: Aviareto for aircraft asset management and CertiPath for secure electronic identity management. In addition, Sits sponsors .aero, the Internet top level domain reserved exclusively for aviation.

Sita operates in 220 countries, including SA, and serves around 200 airlines, including South African Airways, BA and kulula.com.



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