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11.11.2008 Business & Finance

Airlines Phase Out Paper Ticketing

By Daily Guide

Most airlines globally are preparing to do away with the manually laborious issuance of flight tickets and embrace electronic ticketing, information available to this paper has indicated.

E-ticketing is an electronically secured form of ticketing that makes passengers' travel plans less cumbersome and more efficient.

The coming of this new system means passengers can at any time print their e-ticket receipt from an airline's website as well as check in faster by just producing the e-ticket print-out and an appropriate ID.

The processing cost of an e-ticket is just one dollar and can save the aviation industry $3 billion annually, whereas paper ticket costs much more in terms of manual effort and cost spent in issuing, delivering, tracking and reconciling paper tickets for airlines and travel agents.

E-ticketing was launched in Japan in 1971 and currently operates in about 100 countries globally. Last year, IATA announced December 2007 as the deadline for enforcement of e-ticketing in aviation operations but the date had to be shifted to May this year, since most of the airlines could not just meet the deadline. The second deadline was also abused.

When CITY&BUSINESS GUIDE visited airlines' desks at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra last Tuesday, some of the airlines said they have put necessary structures in place to abide by the e-ticketing demands, adding that they have sent their staff on e-ticketing training.

However, IATA Director-General, Giovanni Bisignani, has declared in a statement that there would be no further extension.

By setting strictly-followed deadlines for the remittance of proceeds of transactions between airlines and agents as well as sanctioning defaulters, bad debts will also be avoided.

IATA was positive that this would further boost expansion and synergy among airlines, travel agencies and other service providers, if the rules are maintained regarding prompt and convenient debt settlement.

While fraud control and accountability are expected to come with the e-ticketing regime, up-to-date sales record of airlines and travel agencies will be facilitated, IATA added.

E-ticket should make the job easier, make tracking easier, cost less and remove all bottlenecks, thereby blocking loopholes of loss, it added.

But players in the aviation industry warned that the e-ticketing technology, being a new project, demands serious financing to achieve smooth implementation.

The new regime is also expected to enhance job creation and manpower development through the expansion of electronic data network and other communication facilities.

This is however contrary to the belief in some aviation quarters that the full implementation of the scheme will lead to mass retrenchment of workers when their roles are no longer relevant in the new IT driven e-ticketing age.

By Felix Dela Klutse