Aero-Domains: By Aviation for Aviation

Brand your name at .aero
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In March 2002, SITA launched .aero, the world’s first industry-based top level Internet domain name. In its 11 years of operation, more than hundreds of aviation companies registered over 6,000 domain names.

With secure, intra-industry communications more easily facilitated, the technology is now in place to allow registrants to offer innovative Internet-based services for the benefit of passengers, cargo-handlers and other air transport customers.

The .aero naming structure is sponsored, operated and maintained by SITA on a not-for-profit basis on behalf of the air transport community. The objective is to establish global standards through Internet technologies to improve the efficiency, safety and ease of air transport worldwide. And to do so through domain names that make sense to the industry and the consumer.

In addition, the aero-domain has been introduced to protect existing air transport industry branding, give the industry control over its own top level domain; create an effective and easily understood Web naming structure; and improve security, particularly in the handling of business-to-business applications.

Only qualified members of the aviation community are allowed to use aero-domains: they are not available to the general business community, nor to the public. Those applying for any aero-domain name are required to fit within one of 19 registrant groups, defined by SITA in collaboration with representative aviation community associations and organizations. As a result, cyber squatting and name conflicts are avoided. The effect is to maintain a tight focus on enhancing the community’s Web presence to the benefit of industry players and to the considerable potential benefit of passengers.

SITA is advised, and the domain is monitored, by the Dot Aero Council (DAC), a body that includes representatives from ICAO, IATA, Airports Council International (ACI) and a number of stakeholders in aerospace, air freight and general aviation, including the Federation of Airline General Sales Agents (FAGSA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

During its short life, the World Wide Web has changed the way we communicate with each other. It has brought peoples together from across continents, democratized information and created massive opportunities for companies to get closer to their customers.

But with more than 100 million domain names currently registered, the Web has also become massively crowded. Search engines have become a vital tool in finding a site but even Google, reading more than 3,083 million Web pages, is not infallible. And guesswork is of less and less use. For example, is not the Scandinavian airline but the software services company; is not South African Airways but Southern Auto Auction in the US.

Hence the opportunity for .aero. Working alongside existing .com and .country domains, the aero-domain provides a structured, logical and unique environment in what is often a congested and difficult-to-access online world.

The ATA/IATA Joint Passenger Services conference in October 2002 endorsed the use of two-character airline designator codes, followed by .aero, as a means for travellers to gain quick access to airline websites . Airports Council International (ACI) has also endorsed a fully predictive naming convention for the use of three and four letter location codes. With the protection afforded by the .aero domain structure, names become entirely predictable.

But the opportunities go far deeper than just making it easier for visitors to find a company’s website.

Above all, this is a community resource, managed by aviation for aviation focused on enhancing communications for the benefit of all stakeholders in air transport worldwide.

Hans-Peter Oswald
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