SITA’s Global Baggage Message Distribution Reaches One Billion for the First Time

The world’s only global baggage message distribution system received over one billion messages last year for the first time since it was introduced 12 years ago to help airports and airlines handle bags more efficiently and thereby reduce the number of misdirected bags.

SITA’s BagMessage was introduced to solve a complex technological and logistical industry challenge, and is now responsible for processing messages for over 600 million checked-in bags, including most of the luggage passing through leading airports such as London Heathrow, Beijing, Chicago O’Hare, Singapore, Toronto and Zurich. BagMessage has eliminated the need for airlines to operate proprietary message delivery systems.

The system is used by 532 airlines and supports 208 baggage systems at 170 airports around the globe. BagMessage handled an average of 2.8 million messages per day last year and is growing at 10% per annum. It processed a total of 1,043,973,943 messages last year.

Aleks Popovich, IATA senior vice president, industry distribution and financial services, said: “IATA believes that it is vitally important that baggage messages can be efficiently and reliably exchanged between the various airline and airport systems involved in the processing of passenger baggage. SITA’s BagMessage provides a proven and highly reliable service to the air transport industry.”

For a bag to be transported from check-in to aircraft, to its final destination, an airline’s departure control system (DCS) must communicate with airport baggage handling and reconciliation systems. This results in millions of messages being sent globally between multiple DCSs and baggage systems on a daily basis. SITA’s BagMessage reduces the number of communication connections that each airline and airport requires by providing a managed solution for the aviation industry, which saves costs and reduces communications infrastructure.

Of the one billion messages processed in 2010, SITA received 400 million messages from airport baggage systems. This statistic highlights a continuing trend to send information back to airlines about bags that have been handled and loaded onto flights, so that airlines can track and monitor baggage movements.

Ilya Gutlin, vice president of SITA’s airport solutions line, said: “Despite the bad weather in December and the disruption to air traffic caused by the ash cloud earlier in the year, SITA is delighted to have reached this landmark number which is proof of the robust nature of the system and a clear endorsement by the industry of the vision behind introducing a universal messaging system 12 years ago.

“BagMessage performs a vital service for the industry which is faced with a wide variety of issues when it comes to directing a passenger’s bag onto the right aircraft with shorter aircraft turnaround times, an increase in the number of bags transported and interlined, tighter security and pressure to reduce costs.”

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