100% E-Ticketing – New Deadline: 31MAY2008


The new deadline set by IATA for member airlines to reach 100% Electronic Ticketing (ET) is an extension of five months. The well known and communicated deadline was originally 31DEC2007, but as the progress had not been exactly as planned earlier, this year’s AGM (Annual General Meeting) decided to add a “one-off” additional five months for airlines to comply with the requirement!

Decided also on the AGM back in 2004, IATA laid down the roadmap to completely switch to ET and to eliminate Paper Tickets from the world by the end of 2007. This left 3 and a half years for the airlines to comply with such a request, while some of the airlines at the time were already very well advanced in ET usage, but many of the members had not yet started their ET projects back then. The end of 2007 deadline was promoted by IATA, but it is very well known and accepted that the world’s leading and big airlines wanted to have IATA in front of them when pushing the smaller aviation companies to introduce ET. Why would they do it? Simply because the big savings from ET come when you have totally get away with Paper Tickets (no need to lease/buy and maintain the expensive printers, no need to buy expensive blank ticket stocks (TAT – the one that makes your fingers pink…) or ATB (magnetic stripe) coupons, etc.)

100% ET - Delayed (by balint01)

So did IATA back out from a badly set goal while defeated? I don’t think so!! I think they behaved just the right way! In all workshops, conferences, and meetings since 2004, the message to the member airlines was very clear: the original deadline will not be changed, period! As soon as there were no IATA personell around, basically all ET responsibles (from airlines, airports, ground handling companies and even system providers) looked at each other and said: 100% will not be reachable and gave a smile to each other… But we also all agreed that if we get up to 85-90% (which would be realistic) it would still generate huge savings and bigger customer satisfaction, so it’s worth working on it! And of course it was also clear that the major players on the market (AA, BA, CX, JL, QF, LH, AF/KL/NW, DL, UA etc.) will push the smaller ones and if you don’t jump on this bandwagon, you’ll lose business with these big airlines. Which is key to survival to most smaller sized carriers… So we all worked enthusiastically towards a goal that made us smile every once in a while, but we all took it seriously! The real goal was to reach as high of a percentage of ET’s as possible, and to get as close to 100% as possible.

And now the deadline is changed! Even though at first it may look like the airline industry has failed a deadline, in my opinion this is a realistic extension and beneficial for all! The large majority of the IATA airlines are now ET enabled (and most of them have become so, in the last 2-3 years since the original announcement was made)! Of course there are still some, for which these 5 months can make a difference and it’s good from the industry that they will wait for those that had a hard time convincing their top management, lobby for slots with system providers or match time slots with interline partners. I personally foresee a large progress in those extra 5 months in terms of ET percentage and usage, especially in the interline sales volumes and simply in the number of working interline ET connections!

(And let’s not forget that by the fact that it’s an extension of exactly 5 months (and not 6), the IATA Board and the CEO’s of the member airlines can officially conclude this project as a great success on the next AGM (June 2008) only a few days after the deadline! Which is a good occasion to officially close such a big industry-wide project and share some champagne! 🙂 )

By balint01

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