Air Transport World

Telecom battle.

Merger of the international arms of AT&T and BT presents SITA with a new rival

SITA's traditional position as premier provider of communications for the world airline industry is likely to come under considerable threat if and when the merger is completed of the international arms of British Telecom and the US telecommunications giant AT&T.

Between them, BT and AT&T have enormous technological and financial clout. AT&T turns over $53 billion a year, BT $26 billion, and a merger of their international operations will make them the second-largest telecom company in the world after the Japanese NTT.

The planned joint company, which at this writing does not have a name and awaits final anticompetition clearance, will have 50/50 ownership by BT and AT&T, with each holding $5 billion in assets. All global customers of either company will become customers of the new company, leaving BT and AT&T to run their own domestic networks.

Whatever it is finally called, BT/AT&T International has aggressive designs on the transportation market in general and the airline/airport sector in particular, claiming that it will be able to provide "higher quality and lower costs" than SITA, which is owned by the airlines and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary (see article, p. …

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