API Program for Air Transport Takes Off

Eric Carter, Founder & Corporate Counsel, Dartsand
Jun. 26 2012, 01:00PM EDT

SITA, the leading IT provider to the air transport industry, invited airlines and developers to join them in launching an API program, including the SITA Boarding Pass API, to increase efficiency and innovation in air transport. SITA's research technology team, SITA Lab, launched developer.aero last week in hopes "to enable airlines, airports and other industry players to extend existing IT processes by harnessing the application developer community to provide new apps for the industry and world travelers."

Initially, SITA Lab will focus on development in two troublesome areas of air transport: luggage tracking and mobile boarding passes. BagTrac is SITA's API that allows applications to track checked luggage as it is scanned throughout its journey. SITA already handles 1.2 billion bag messages a year, and the BagTrac API will expose this data to developers for application development. Additionally, SITA Lab has launched Mobile Boarding Pass. Mobile Boarding Pass is the only "open" mobile boarding pass available for use by any airline. Currently, over 70% of passengers would like to use mobile boarding passes; however, "only the major airlines with considerable IT resources have been able to deploy mobile boarding passes." SITA's Mobile Boarding Pass looks to level the playing field for mobile boarding.

BagTrac utilizes a REST API, and can retrieve requested events by bag tag number or PNR booking reference. Events available for retrieval include checked in, scanned, screened, loaded, off-loaded, re-routing, and delayed. Mobile Boarding Pass can be integrated with any check-in application and provides an IATA compliant 2D boarding pass using the Aztec barcode standard. Boarding passes can be sent via email, SMS, web, or in-application.

Initially, both APIs may simply help airlines save money by streamlining processes and allowing more self-service customer service options. However, SITA's CTO (Jim Peters) suggests that "API-client architecture is the key enabler that is driving new-gen app development....Exposing data or processes through APIs allows developers to create features...that the companies might not have the resources to develop or for which they might not have even anticipated a consumer need." Interested developers can access the available APIs here.

Eric Carter Eric is the founder of Dartsand and Corporate Counsel for a specialty technology distributor. He is a frequent contributor to technology media outlets and also serves as primary legal counsel for multiple startups in the Real Estate, Virtual Assistant, and Software Development Industries. Follow me on Google+

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