More regional airlines wing it without paper
FINALLY, there’s movement on the e-ticketing front as more regional airlines go paperless.
Qatar Airways introduced electronic ticketing (e-ticketing) on April 1 for flights departing from May 1 as part of a major initiative to replace paper documents and enhance the travel process, while Gulf Air has extended its electronic ticketing in the region allowing agencies in Bahrain, Oman and the UAE that use the Sabre GDS ability to provide paperless tickets.
With the launch of e-tickets, passengers no longer receive a physical ticket. But their ticket and travel details are stored electronically in a central database.
The move comes in time for the deadline set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Simplifying the Business strategy, which calls for the withdrawal of all paper tickets from travel agents around the world by the end of next year. It is part of the association’s continuing attempts to reduce costs for airlines, travel agencies and travellers, offering more flexibility, security and improved reconciliation of all transactions.
Oman Aviation Services was the most recent Gulf airline company to go paperless. Other recent converts include Pakistan International Airways, Turkish Airlines and Royal Brunei Airlines. Emirates was the first airline in the Arab world to launch e-tickets, its virtual network covered 44 destinations at last count.
“Electronic is the future of ticketing and we are glad to be a part of it,” says Gulf Air vice-president of information technology Jalal Al Qassab. Gulf Air’s e-ticketing facility was launched in November 2005 on its London-Bahrain-Singapore-Sydney routes.
Qatar Airways, meanwhile, will only make the system available selected destinations initially before gradually being rolled out across its global network of 70 cities. Qatar Airways’ electronic ticketing is being implemented under a strategic partnership contract with Lufthansa Systems that covers a wide range of services, including the provision of software for self-service check-in terminals and global network communication services.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker says electronic ticketing was an important industry initiative designed to simplify procedures for the travelling public, as well as the airline. “For passengers, it means faster check-in, easier processing through airports and eliminating the risk of losing tickets. For Qatar Airways, it eliminates the need for paper tickets and reduces costs significantly.”
Typically a paper ticket costs up to $10 to process, whereas the processing cost of an e-ticket is only $1. A full implementation of e-ticketing will save the industry up to $3 billion per year worldwide. Some US airlines now charge up to $20 to issue paper tickets.