SITA Lab invites airlines to trial new API platform

APIs for baggage tracing and boarding passes available first

In a move that could see a new wave of innovative travel applications being developed, SITA’s research technology team, SITA Lab, today invited airlines and developers to join trials of developer.aero. This is the API (application programming interface) developers’ portal which SITA Lab is now moving into its next phase of development.

The platform is being designed 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.

Jim Peters, CTO, SITA, said: “API-client architecture is the key enabler that is driving new-gen app development and allowing apps to be developed for virtually any platform. Exposing data or processes through APIs allows developers to create features that will benefit everybody. It opens the possibility of solutions being created that the companies might not have the resources to develop or for which they might not have even anticipated a consumer need.

“In the airline industry, for example, allowing developers access to data on checked bags as they pass through various checkpoints on their journey, can power a useful API for self-service baggage tracing. This is just one area on which our team at SITA Lab is focusing.”

If successful, this platform will open the door, in a secure and controlled manner, for application developers to access vast amounts of industry data enabling them to create applications for use on multiple devices, including mobiles and tablets.

Peters continued: “We expect that our research with developer.aero will promote innovation across the industry. Relationships with the developer community, both within and outside of the air transport industry, will be expanded and strengthened while the design of the portal will maintain control of data and infrastructure.”

SITA plans to have several APIs available on developer.aero. The first of these which SITA wants to trial with airlines is BagTrac. This API exposes data on the location of individual checked bags as they are scanned during the journey. As the leading IT provider to the air transport industry, SITA manages BagMessage which handles 1.2 billion bag messages every year. These include more than 400 million bag processing messages which give details of the exact location of a piece of luggage, for example, on a carousel at a particular airport, on the plane, in the baggage sortation area, etc. By exposing this data, SITA will be allowing developers to quickly and easily create niche solutions.

For those airlines interested with working with SITA Lab on BagTrac, developer.aero will enable the relevant data and business processes to be exposed so that developers can produce solutions that can track a bag like a parcel around the world. These solutions could also allow passengers to file a report from their mobile if something were to go wrong, providing updated routing instructions – a passenger self-service feature with potential huge cost savings for airlines.

Another API which SITA has made available is the Mobile Boarding Pass. No departure control or check-in system today provides a complete 2D, IATA-compliant, mobile boarding pass image creation and customizable message delivery process, to any mobile device. SITA is now exposing its solution so that airlines don’t have to create their own. This is a community offering which will work with any check-in system and is compatible with upcoming technologies such as Apple’s Passbook for iOS 6.


Today, 73% of passengers would like to use 2D bar-coded boarding passes, according to the SITA Passenger Self Service Survey, yet to date only the major airlines with considerable IT resources have been able to deploy mobile boarding passes; other airlines are left struggling on how to deploy this in a cost-effective manner. This API gives airlines the opportunity to offer their passengers the convenience of these passes.  

The APIs are only available to trial by airlines directly or developers who are authorized by that airline. They can access the platform and register to use it from today.

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