On 27AUG2007, IATA has placed its last order for paper ticket stocks to be used by its associated travel agencies before the 31MAY2008 deadline for 100% Electronic Ticketing. This means that IATA will only support Electronic Tickets starting 01JUN2008, paper tickets will become collectors’ items!
The final order was for approximately 16.5 million paper tickets to be supplied by seven specialised printers which are to be distributed among and used by some 60.000 accredited travel agencies in 162 markets worldwide. IATA’s settlement systems issue over 400 million ticket annually. The elimination of paper tickets would not only cut airlines’ costs by USD$9 for every traveller (a total of USD$ 3 billion for the whole industry) but would also mean that air travel – criticized by environmentalists for its part in global warming – would save 50,000 mature trees a year, according to Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Non-IATA airlines, mainly low-cost carriers such as Ireland’s Ryanair and Britain’s easyJet, already have a paper-free ticket system where travelers are registered in computers and present only an identity document at check-in. Now with the pressure from IATA, the traditional carriers are moving in this direction as well.
An interesting statement from the airline body says that China, one of the fastest-growing markets for air travel and host to next year’s Olympic Games, is heading to be the first country in the world to operate an entirely paper-free ticketing system by the end of this year. Just like in many other fields, China has done a very impressive progress in this matter as well, because 3 years ago, when the 100% ET program of IATA was launched, there were no E-tickets issued in the most populated country in the world and now they are headed to be the first country to eliminate paper tickets, before the original deadline!