A rash of e-commerce initiatives have been announced by airframe and avionics manufacturers, airlines and communication specialists, with SITA, Boeing, Honeywell and British Airways identifying Internet-based business opportunities.

Aeronautical communication specialist SITA, already active in Internet developments, is extending its diversification strategy into the e-commerce arena with the launch of a 50:50 joint venture website with US aerospace inventory management company AAR.

Called aerospan.com, the website is due to be launched in mid-2000 and will enable customers to buy and sell air transport industry products and services on-line. Aerospan.com is initially targeted at 15,000 technical suppliers and a larger number of general suppliers that do business with 1,400 passenger and cargo airlines, which SITA estimates to be worth up to $100 billion annually.

Aerospan.com's goal is to enable users to buy and sell aircraft and engines over the website, boosting this figure to as much as $500 billion, SITA claims. Revenues will be derived from charging site subscription and transaction fees and from carrying advertising.

Meanwhile, United Technologies and Honeywell are linking with electronic commerce specialist i2 Technologies to launch MyAircraft.com, which will concentrate on the aerospace after-sales market. The venture, which will be launched during the second quarter of this year, will provide supply chain management, parts planning and procurement solutions for airlines, original equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

Boeing has also announced its long-awaited entry into the e-commerce business by setting up New Ventures, headed by Anil Shrikhande, a former executive of Unisys. New Ventures will evaluate non-Internet related business opportunities, but Boeing says the first output will probably be in the e-commerce field, with aircraft spares, services and technical support likely to be involved.

Meanwhile, Minnesota-based TradeAir.Com has launched its commercial aircraft parts supply service with the first transaction conducted by BFGoodrich Aerospace, while another service, aviationX.com, has signed user test agreements with US carriers Express Airlines I and Chautauqua Airlines.

AviationX.com, which will go live in the second quarter, will provide an "e-marketplace" for sourcing, procuring and exchanging information, goods and services.

In the latest airline e-commerce initiative, British Airways has announced a £100 million ($160 million) investment over the next two years in on-line ventures. BA's eVentures initiative will include an on-line travel agency to be operated with other European major airlines, which are yet to be finalised.

Less than 2% of the airline's tickets are sold on-line, with BA aiming to increase this to 50% by the end of 2003. BA expects on-line revenue to rise from £45 million a year to £700 million within two years.

BA also aims to expand its on-line purchasing from the current 25% to 80% by March 2002, saving more than £175 million on the airline's £3.7 billion a year purchasing spend. The carrier will establish an eCommerce unit next month to handle Internet-based activities.

Source: Flight International