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Turbulent time for e-ticketing

Regional airlines will fail to meet an industry deadline of December 2007 for issuing all tickets electronically, as they struggle with massive implementation costs, out of date systems and a serious shortage of IT specialists.

Industry figures claim airlines are facing an impossible task to fully meet the deadline set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). After this date the 60,000 IATA affiliated travel agents globally will no longer issue paper tickets.

At present just eight of the region’s 23 airlines issue e-tickets, with IATA’s own figures showing that as of August, just 12% of tickets in the region were issued electronically, compared to a global average of 60.7%.

Industry experts, including Wahab Teffaha, secretary general of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation, are confident that regional airlines will at least start to issue e-tickets on their own routes by the deadline.

However, it is looking unlikely that airlines will meet the deadline for interline electronic tickets. Interlining is where airlines will accept a booking for a passenger’s entire journey then liase with onward carriers for the destinations they cover.

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.

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