Archive for July, 2007

Airbus A380 tickets

When I studied the blog statistics, I could see that many hits are coming from Google using the keyword A380 tickets. The following information is for them:

1. The new A380 has not started operating yet, although operation is scheduled to start late 2007.

2. The first customers, who placed order are: Emirates,Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Qantas, Air France, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, China Southern, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Kingfisher Airlines, cargo companies (UPS, FedEx) and a leasing company (ILFC).

I am sure once they will start operation, you will be able to find information on the websites of the above mentioned airlines.

You can learn more about the nice A380 on the official website, on Airliners.net and in the Wikipedia.

By Szafi

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New Sabre solution – useful or not?

Today I read the following news on ATW Online:

Sabre Travel Network is on the verge of rolling out a new product that will enable it to house a “mirror image” of a carrier’s inventory within its system to provide a more accurate picture of the airline’s availability. Kyle Moore, vice president of product marketing, said the growth of air fare shopping options has led many airlines to introduce caching of their air fares to minimize the volume of messages that hit their inventory systems.

“Caching is great for driving down message costs,” he said, “but the down side is that it is a picture of availability at a point in time, and at some point it is no longer accurate.” In the “proxy scenario,” Sabre duplicates the response that a carrier’s inventory system would give to a query, “almost duplicating the logic of their inventory management,” he said.

The carrier must “help us understand the logic and foundational rules about what is opened and what is closed and how to interpret it correctly so that we don’t have to rely on a cache,” Moore said. “A proxy is not perfect, but very nearly,” he added. “It allows the airline to have a better answer at the point of sale.”

Moore said Sabre’s launch customer is currently testing the system.

In the next few weeks, Sabre also will introduce a new XML connectivity option for airlines whose internal reservations systems don’t support Edifact, the traditional communication protocol used for GDS connectivity. Its launch customer is AirTran Airways.

It will enable travel agency subscribers to view the carrier’s seat maps for advance seat selection and enter frequent flyer information. “Even if it’s just 1% of an agency’s sales, we want to make it available to them,” Brian Houser, vice president of sales strategy, said.

I have had a long and endless fight with GDSs’ product developers, this time I take the chance and write an open question to Sabre’s managers. I hope they will help us understand their strategies. We would be grateful if they left a comment to this article in the blog.

Dear Sirs,

first of all I could not find this press release anywhere on your website. The last update was in June. As I could not get a clear picture of this product, just some hints from this press release, these are just first reactions. In the following let me comment this new feature form the view of an airline.

– GDS providers are interested in transaction costs. So whenever a GDS provider comes out with a tool that helps decreasing transaction costs, it is always suspicious. So is the situation in this case. I will explain it later, why.

– for an airline the biggest number of request transactions is coming from its website, not from the agents. Therefore we can say those clients coming from the website are not travel professionals. There is no way an airline can explain any customer that although the system shows available seats, it comes from cache, so the seats for that very nice, cheap price are not there anymore. Besides that you as a merchant have a price obligation that once you gave an offer to a customer for a certain price, you have to provide that product on that exact price. So whenever we at Malev considered caching, we immediately disclosed it from our development strategy. We had to decide so also because other airlines who used it had very bad experiences with it.

– Airlines will not reduce their costs dramatically, because (and I don’t know the price of your product) what they can loose on not hitting the inventory directly, they will pay for this product and customer claims.

– What does it mean that airlines have to teach you their logic and foundational rules of what is open and what is not and how they apply their revenue management? First of all: what is closed and what is not, it is absolutely clear in every airline’s inventory. I am sure you have seen such thing already. For caching or mirroring a complete partition of an inventory there is no need for you to know the airline’s revenue management strategy. Besides that this is one of the biggest secrets at airlines. They will give you information on their security or fleet strategy earlier than on their revenue management strategy. You just cannot expect such thing from an airline.

– The only useful thing for an airline I could read in your press release was the XML connection. This can really help reducing communication costs as EDIFACT is the most expensive communication technology, so by replacing it with XML, the airlines can really save on communication costs. This feature could have been introduced much earlier. It would have brought you some income.

– I would even not like to comment on the last paragraph in the article, because I think it is just a mistake.

– If you would really like to help airlines reduce their communication costs (and it is kind of a requirement from IATA), I recommend you to take a deeper look at their e-commerce strategies and develop more efficient pricing solutions, because that is their biggest suffer and that is the point where they have to pay the biggest amount of communication fees.

The above comments are not just for Sabre Airline solutions. This time it was them who came up with a new solution that airlines would dislike, but what I could see as an airline manager and later as a consultant was that none of the GDS providers take the effort to better understand the daily problems of airlines and develop their products in co-operation with them, although it is the clearest interest of both parties. IATA also has a role that this gap between airlines and their IT providers is deepening. I hope this gap will be soon closed by heavy discussions between the parties.

By Szafi

New online payment method at Qantas

SYDNEY, 30 JULY 2007: Qantas announced today it had introduced a new online payment feature that allowed customers to book a flight and defer payment until closer to their departure date. Qantas Group General Manager Sales and Distribution, Rob Gurney, said the introduction of Book Now Pay Later on the Qantas website, qantas.com, is designed to offer customers greater flexibility.
“When a customer books an international airfare* or a Fully Flexible or Business Class Australian domestic fare on qantas.com, they now have two payment options,” Mr Gurney said. “Customers can continue to pay immediately, or use the new facility to confirm their seat and then pay for it at a later date.
“Customers can now plan their travel on qantas.com in advance by booking their flight to ensure they don’t miss out on the flight they want, and then having the option of paying for it later when their travel plans are further finalised.”
“People choosing this new option will be advised the date for when full payment is required and also receive follow-up emails with details of how to make the payment online.”
The availability of Book Now Pay Later and the length of time customers have to pay will depend on fare type and time until departure, with customers shown the date when full payment is due before deciding to proceed.
In order to secure a booking, customers will be charged a holding guarantee of A$25 per passenger, Mr Gurney said. This amount is then refunded when a customer pays the full amount for their tickets online. Customers can choose to pay by credit card or BPAY before the final payment date. Qantas.com is Australia’s number one travel website according to Hitwise and Neilsen Net Ratings and receives over 5 million visits every month.

When we created and managed Malev’s website, we had to reconsider this option every now and then, but finally we always decided on not going this direction. The reason was that we always kept an idea in mind while developing the site: we target those passengers, who are not “troublesome”. Who can decide what they want and who can arrange everything themselves. The less customer service they required the happier we were. Although airlines try to gain the most passengers possible directly through their website and the more diverse their product portfolio is, the more types of passengers they can reach. Especially for higher class passengers it is a convenient service. Our strategy was to serve higher revenue passengers in a more personal way and direct lower class, simple passengers to the website. Probably Qantas has reached 100% of this target group in the meantime and now they have opened up their services to other target groups. Within a month we will try to ask them about the results of this step.

By Szafi

Cartoon – airline industry

Here’s a funny cartoon I have just found on Clay Bennett’s website.

Airline Industry

With this the Airline World blog team is wishing you a nice weekend. Please do not forget to bookmark this site and add our RSS feed to your favorite ones.

By Szafi

Good first half results at Lufthansa

Lufthansa maintains its successful course: during the first six months of 2007, the Group increased its capacity and sales. The Group improved its operating result to 486 million euros, which marked an increase of 64 per cent in comparison with the first six months of 2006. The net profit for the term was reported at 992 million euros; this figure includes 503 million euros of profit from the sale of the shares in Thomas Cook.

All the business segments of the Group played a role in the success, whereby the passenger business made the largest contribution. During the first half of 2007, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group welcomed 27 million passengers on board – a record figure in the Group’s history. In this case, the continued positive development on the European market deserves a special mention. The expansion of the global network of routes and the successful marketing of the betterFly offers in Germany and Europe have also paid off.

The successful result during the first half of the year also included the performance by SWISS, which was fully integrated into the Lufthansa Group on 1 July 2007.

In view of the positive business development, Lufthansa is confident of increasing profitability still further and now anticipates an operating result, – in line with market expectations – significantly above one billion euros for the full financial year.

It is a nice result, but we should not forget that some subsidiaries of Lufthansa are doing quite bad. For example Lufthansa System’s first half profit decreased around 20%. The reason of this bad result is huge overhead costs, inefficient workflow and low quality standards. I hope I helped the management where to start looking around a little bit.

By Szafi

Landing On A Highway

This is an interesting video courtesy of Wisconsin State Patrol, recorded only a few days ago:

http://www.break.com/index/plane-lands-on-wisconsin-highway.html

by balint01

Airbus A380 Tickets On Sale at eBay

A380 in Singapore Airlines livery

Singapore Airlines, – the first airline to put the new giant Airbus in service – has today announced that it will sell all of its tickets for the first ever commercial flight of the A380 on eBay. Furthermore, all of the revenue arising from these tickets will be donated for charity. This is a very nice move from the airline, who has also announced, that the demand for the tickets for this special flight were so high, that it prefers this way of handling all interested parties. As known, traditional airline pricing always tries to follow the current market demand, but this is a special occasion, where the pricing and fare department of Singapore Airlines will let the market itself decide on the fares, which are projected to go over the clouds probably. Knowing that it will all go to support some good causes, people will probably open their vallets even more, which is a very nice way of using such special power to raise money for those in need.

The first flight will take place “in the month of October, 2007” between Singapore and Sydney, with tickets going on sale only a few weeks earlier. So don’t rush to eBay just yet, maybe it’s best to sign up for the newsletter to be among the first to know about the date when tickets go on sale! This flight will definiately by an aviation history milestone, and Singapore Airlines will provide each passenger with a special certificate, to be hung on your wall, to be placed in your safe, or simply to prove your participation to your grandchildren! 🙂

The official press release.

by balint01


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