IATA’07 target unlikely despite positive agency response


THE IATA 2007 deadline is unlikely to be met in its entirety, despite agencies having seized e-ticketing opportunities, according to an expert.

“It’s highly unlikely the IATA 2007 deadline for the complete withdrawal of paper ticketing will be met entirely,” Nejib Ben-Khedher, president and managing partner of the aviation consulting practice at Sabre Airline Solutions, said in an update on electronic ticketing for Sabre Travel Network (STN) and Sabre Airline Solutions, which hosts the reservation systems of over 100 airlines .
According to the statement, 80 per cent of all tickets issued worldwide through the Sabre GDS are now electronic, and 122 airlines offer e-ticketing for Sabre-connected travel agencies. Fifty-seven airlines now use the SabreSonic Ticket interline e-ticket (IET) ‘hub’ to facilitate e-ticketing with partner carriers.
IATA’s Simplifying the Business strategy calls for 100 percent e-ticketing by the end of 2007. Collectively, Sabre Travel Network airline customers broke through the 80 per cent barrier in March, meaning that now only one in five Sabre-issued tickets is paper.
“These figures show an unstoppable momentum, and indicate that carriers that sell most of the world’s airline tickets will be compliant by the due date,” said Ben-Khedher. He added that technology was available to help carriers of any size switch to e-ticketing quickly and relatively inexpensively.
South African Airways, PIA, Gulf Air, Air Malta, Cyprus Airways and SpanAir are among have the latest to implement e-ticketing through Sabre. STN has now released e-ticketing in 72 countries, including 29 in the EMEA area. Cyprus, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt are the latest additions. 
“The travel agents I’ve spoken to are completely supportive of the full adoption of e-ticketing,” said Dean Bibb, STN’s European vice-president of supplier relations and joint ventures. “Part of the reason we broke through the 80 per cent barrier is because our agency customers have seized on the e-ticketing capability of every new airline we’ve implemented.”
SabreSonic Ticket is a new generation e-ticketing enabling product for airlines, based on ‘open’ technology to allow communication with any airline’s own IT system. Connecting to the SabreSonic Ticket IET ‘hub’, allows each airline to issue e-tickets in conjunction with other participating carriers without bilateral agreements. A recently technical development with Worldspan gives carriers on the IET hub a single connection to those with Worldspan.