The outlook for e-ticketing looks turbulent

Regional airlines fear they will fail to meet the International Air Transport Association IATA deadline of December 2007 for issuing all tickets electronically, as they struggle with massive implementation costs and out-of-date systems.

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By  Gemma Greenwood Published  December 17, 2006

Regional airlines fear they will fail to meet the International Air Transport Association (IATA) deadline of December 2007 for issuing all tickets electronically, as they struggle with massive implementation costs and out-of-date systems. Oman Air and Gulf Air have revealed that although they would start to issue e-tickets on their own routes by December next year, it was unlikely they would meet the deadline for interline electronic tickets. “What we are going to do is look at our 80 to 100 interline agreements and probably come up with the most important. Those will get done by the end of the year,” Edward Grauvogl, the divisional manager of commercial and planning, Oman Air, told ATN’s sister publication, IT Weekly. Given the current situation, IATA would be forced to extend the deadline, he added. And Gulf Air head of distribution and e-commerce, Lars Denlew, said the carrier planned to issue e-tickets on 38 of 100 interline routes by December next year. He also slammed IT solutions providers for charging carriers to establish links for individual journeys when they had already set up similar links between reservations systems for several other carriers. “IT providers know we are forced to set up links and are trying to utilise this by selling a solution they already have in place. They are selling it many times to every airline,” he explained. Airlines must create interfaces between their different reservation systems before they can issue e-tickets for interline journeys — a complex process costing up to US $25,000 or more for every link created. Add this cost to the price of deploying an electronic ticketing solution and upgrading revenue accounting systems, and the bill can run to multi-millions. At present just eight of the region’s 23 airlines issue e-tickets, with IATA figures revealing that as of August, just 12% of tickets in the region were issued electronically, compared to the international average of 60.7%. However, come January 1, 2008, the 60,000 IATA affiliated travel agents worldwide will no longer issue paper tickets. The UAE’s national carrier, Etihad Airways has claimed that e-ticketing is now available on 80% of its network, with a target of 95% by the end of the year. It claims it is on track to meet IATA’s deadline.

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