Global aviation IT specialist enters the maritime sector

28th May 2024 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Global air transport IT solutions group SITA announced on Tuesday that it was expanding into the maritime sector, with the launch of its new subsidiary company, SmartSea. It also announced that SmartSea had entered its first agreement, with Cyprus-based global major ship management and maritime services company Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM).

“SITA is taking a bold step into the maritime sector, where our longstanding leadership in aviation can serve to overcome economic and capacity challenges, enhance security and unlock new revenue streams for companies across the industry,” explained SITA CEO David Lavorel. “The global maritime industry plays a vital role in fostering economic growth, human development and global connectivity. By facilitating international trade, creating jobs and driving technological innovation, the industry contributes to better living standards and economic prosperity around the world. By using valuable cross-industry synergies and our international reach, we are collaborating with companies such as [CSM] to elevate their operations to the next level. This is a significant step for us and demonstrates our ability to revolutionise end-to-end travel, regardless of the mode of transport.”

The shipping industry faced similar challenges to those of the air transport sector, SITA pointed out. They both operated in highly regulated, complex, global ecosystems. They were both capital-intensive. They both relied heavily on communications and data. They had very similar sustainability requirements. Ships had to be crewed, maintained, and turned around in ports, just as airliners had to be at airports. Like airlines, shipping companies had to manage passengers, baggage and cargo, and had to do so efficiently. But, in terms of technology adaptation, the shipping sector was some 10 to 15 years behind the air transport industry.

“SITA’s launch of SmartSea and our first agreement with CSM mark a strategic turning point for both SITA and the digitalisation of the maritime industry,” affirmed SmartSea CEO Julian Panter. “The sector is taking important steps towards catching up with the automotive and aerospace industries from a technology perspective. The inclusion of SITA in that effort will exponentially fast-track this objective. SmartSea will be the platform that will bring the latest technology from aviation (SITA) to the maritime industry. I am massively passionate about this.”

SITA has been in existence for 75 years and today works closely with more than 2 500 airlines, airports, ground handling companies, and governments, worldwide. The company serves 95% of the world’s international airports. More than 85% of international air travellers benefittfrom its digital border systems. SITA’s solutions are trusted by more than 70 countries, including all 20 of the world’s biggest economies (19 States plus the European Union).  

“I am thrilled to be working with SmartSea as it brings its extensive experience and innovative aviation technology to the maritime industry,” enthused Columbia Group CEO Mark O’Neil. “Through working with SmartSea, we will be able to offer maritime stakeholders a complete onshore and vessel-based IT systems solution that will dramatically improve efficiency, safety and sustainability. Utilising this technology will revolutionise the industry and drive forward digitalisation, bringing us in line with other technologically advanced industries.”