Last call for paper plane tickets

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 27 Aug 2007

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has placed its final order for paper tickets as the global aviation industry readies itself to go paperless within the year - and save at least R21 billion in the process.

Some 16.5 million paper tickets were ordered from seven specialised printers to supply the 60 000 accredited IATA travel agents in 162 markets around the world until 31 May 2008.

From 1 June 2008, all tickets issued through the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan will be electronic.

"This is 'last call' for paper tickets," says IATA director-general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani. "It's been 38 months since we launched the drive for 100% e-ticketing as part of IATA's 'Simplifying the Business' initiative. E-ticketing went from 16% in June 2004 to 84% today. And in just 278 more days the paper ticket will become a collector's item."

IATA's settlement systems issue over 400 million tickets annually. With the volume of paper tickets now at 16% of the total and an approaching deadline for the elimination of paper, the final order of tickets was made.

The order volume of 16.5 million took into account an estimate of current paper ticket stocks and estimated demand in order to ensure a robust supply of tickets to meet demand. Upon fulfilment of the final order, suppliers will decommission their ticket printing operations for IATA.

"We are changing an industry, with tangible benefits for travellers, agents, airlines and the environment," adds Bisignani. "Consumers enjoy the convenience and flexibility of paperless travel. Agents have the opportunity to broaden the scope of their business and serve their customers remotely.

Local impact

"The cost saving of $9 (about R64) for every e-ticket compared to a paper tickets adds up to $3 billion (R21 billion) in annual savings for the industry. Eliminating paper will save the equivalent of 50 000 mature trees each year. E-ticketing is a winning proposition for everyone," adds Bisignani, whose organisation represents over 240 airlines comprising 94% of international scheduled air traffic.

South African Airways (SAA) recently announced that from this month, it is imposing a service fee of up to R500 a ticket for flight bookings not made online. SAA head of group corporate affairs Robyn Chalmers said the fee would encourage customers to book their airline tickets online and ease congestion at service centres.

"There are lengthy queues at SAA counters during the busy season, and part of the reason for this is that some people pay for their tickets at the airport service counters. The fee will also apply to online bookings, where customers opt to pay later and collect their tickets at the airport."

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