Air Transport World

Moving beyond StarNet: Star Alliance and SITA work to develop the next step in seamless connectivity between alliance members and their customers.(Information Technology)

For a single airline with a lot of legacy software and IT systems, getting all the systems within its various departments to communicate with each other can be an arduous task. An alliance of a dozen or more airlines multiplies the task exponentially, creating a crazy salad of disparate pieces that speak different languages on different platforms.

The Star Alliance has been working on this issue for years. It has little choice in the matter: At 16 member air lines and counting--LOT Polish Airlines and US Airways are slated to join in a few months--Star is looking less like a handful of far-flung carriers and more like a mini-IATA.

Its efforts to shape its parts into something like a cohesive unit in the technological sense are best described as a work in progress. In 2000, the alliance took the first significant step toward that goal with the creation of StarNet, an IT solution that acted as a translation device for its members.

Developed by Lufthansa Systems, the primary contractor (see article, p. 46), and Dublin-based Eland Technologies, which produced the software, StarNet converts messages generated in a variety of formats--Edifact, XML, "native"--to a common language that is understood by all the member airlines and that can be displayed on any member's computer terminal. …

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