Archive for the 'airline IT' Category

No Booking At Ryanair For 3 Days

Ryanair is temporarily closing down both its online and call center booking office between 10 pm on 22 February and 11 pm on 25 February. This painful step is necessary, because the airline migrates to a new booking engine that will comply with EU’s regulation to include all taxes and extra fees into the ticket price.

As AirlineWorld wrote about it earlier, the European Commission decided to be very strict about airlines communiating prices that do not include taxes or other extra fees. Although the initiation may sound good for the customer, there are several circumstances that makes it impossible to intorduce such a business model in the aviation industry. See our earlier article about the topic.

According to Ryanair’s spokesperson, the airline has already missed a January 31 deadline, but got an extension of the deadline until the end of February.

I am personally doubtful if Ryanair will be able to make it – not the upgrade, but to include all taxes and extra fares into the prices – because to fully comply with the regulation the low-cost airline will need to change their policy about the extra charge in checked in baggage and so on. Once the new software will be up and running, we will definately test it.

By Szafi 
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Best Of AirlineWorld 2007

This is the last day of the year. As billions of people around the world, we also took a look back to what happened in the old year and made some New Year’s Resolutions.

For us 2007 was not a full year as we started our blog in June. It was a nice calm Sunday and Szafi wrote her first post about the Radio Alphabet – a useful tool not just for aviation fans. Balint01 joined her on the 7th with his first post about “Fuller Planes – Good Or Bad?” – a brief explanation of revenue and capacity management of airlines.

A380 

A380 was one of our main topics this year. We could see the a video of an imaginery evacuation of an A380, we reported on that quite unusual initiation that Singapore Airlines sold the first tickets to the A380 on e-Bay and gave the money (USD 1,25 million) for charity. We tried to find out more about the possible cabin configurations and then we reported on the first delivery.

Boeing 787

Boeing 787, the Dreamliner was our other favorite topic. We wrote about it when it was revealed, we put it in our blog header, we reported on the first announcement of delay that predicted 2 months. Now it seems that a 6-month delay is more realistic.

Developments 

Besides A380 and B787 we saw the birth of a Russian jet called Sukhoi Superjet and a Chinese one called ARJ21-700. We kept track of technology trends in aviation. We wrote an article about RFID usage at airlines and airports, about e-ticketing, a new online payment method at Qantas, a weightless flight, a solar powered, unmanned aircraft. Also we were interested in service developments such as the new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow Airport, Lufthansa’s new A380 First Class Concept, Boeing’s 747 development to keep up with A380,

Crashes 

Unfortunately again some serious accidents happened. We saw around 200 people dying in a very tragical crash in Sao Paulo, brazil. 19 people died in an accident of Air Moorea on the way to Tahiti. When China Airline’ 737 burst into fire and blew up, everybody could escape in time thanks to the flight crew, who was criticized for being rude – we thought it was better being rude than being inactive. Later it turned out that a loose bolt caused the fire. There was a sad collision of two planes at an Air Show in Radom, Poland. SAS Airlineshad a bad series of crash landings – without serious injuries – of its Dash 8 turboprop planes. Finally they decided on grounding all their Dash 8 fleet. 87 died in One-Two-Go Airlines crash in Phuket, Thailand. A few days later rallye driver champion Colin McRae died in a helicopter crash over Scotland. The most commented article was the weird accident of an Airbus A340 on the ground of the Airbus factory during testing. The last serious accident of the year was an MD-83 crash in Turkey killing 56.

Photo reports 

We received a lot of photos from our friends and airline enthusiasts, so we could show a photo report of a Royal Aircraft in Budapest, Red Bull Air Race in Budapest, an Air Show in Kecskemet and the A340 Airbus crash at the Toulouse Airbus factory.

Innovations 

We criticized airlines and other players of the industry about wrong steps and we were happy to present good initiations of other players. We found KLM’s promotion: a gift of a costmetics set for online bookers a very smart and useful initiation. We loved Iberia’s enviroment-friendly attitude with naming their new aircrafts Royal Owl, Imperial Eagle and other endangered species. We could read funny comments about an interesting topic: Vatican’s Air Mistral. IATA’s initiation of a greener aviation industry was also worth a post.

Sex and rock and roll 

And finally we tried to entertain those not interested in professional matters of the airline business with articles like Sex in an airplane, Sexy stewardess uniforms – with special attention to the self-designed uniform of Easyjet, Superstar pilots, Special aircraft paintings and we learned about where lost luggage end up going.

We also lost a very key figure of the European airline indusry. Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair died on 03 October at the age of 71. Net year we will definately write an article about him, because only a few know about his role in today’s aviation business.

And what is our New Year’s resolution? Well, we’ll do our best to entertain you and draw your attention to the magic world of airlines we so much love.

We both wish you a very happy, successful new year and please keep on reading us! 🙂

By Szafi and balint01

Flight Review: AirTran Airways

AirTran Logo 

Route: Atlanta, GA – Dayton, OH – Atlanta, GA
Operating Airlines: AirTran Airways
Travel Date: 30NOV2007 and 02DEC2007

Ticket Purchase

I have bought the ticket through www.airtran.com. The website is very simple, and thus very easy to use, very understandable, clear. It shows you all available fares in a very simple table with all flight details being displayed in small pop-up dialog windows. It is clear which flight is nonstop, and which ones involve a transfer. What is a nice feature that I have not seen before at other airlines’ sites, is that you can have a printer friendly version of the flight search results. So you can print your options and discuss it with somebody or attach it to a business trip plan, etc. Very handy, as mostly you end up with complicated, colorful search results which you can scroll for minutes and may be printed on four pages which then you have to somehow compile to see the actual information. This is a nice added value feature! After selecting your flights you get an overview, that includes the most important fare rules, terms and conditions, check-in information, and the option to add your a+ rewards number (frequent flier program of AirTran) as well to book a trip protection insurance. You also have the option to secure your seat when booking, which is at extra cost, but at an acceptable level I think. I chose 17F for both of my flights for an extra USD 5 for each flight, but could have chosen emergency exit seats with extra leg room for USD 20/flight. You can of course pay by credit card, but you can also use your PayPal account, with BillMeLater or with CheckFree account. In the last step you confirm your payment details and recieve a confirmation mail afterwards.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions 

There is no option to offset your carbon emissions on this website.

Check-In

I wasn’t worried about check-in at all, as I had pre-selected my seat, I knew I will have a window seat, still I received a mail 24 hours before the first flight that check-in is now available. I went ahead and checked in, where I could select another seat. (Actually on the way back I did so, as 17F didn’t have enough legroom due to some wiring at the bottom of the previous seat.) Online check-in at the website is also straight forward, and fast. You have other choices to check-in, such as the Bye-Pass Check-in kiosks at the airport, and you can also drop your luggage off at the sidewalk check-in areas at the Atlanta Airport so you don’t even have to carry your luggage in the terminal building, they take it away from your right where the taxi can drop you off.

AiTran B717 in Atlanta, GA, USA (by balint01)

1. ATLANTA, GA – DAYTON, OH (FL 702)

Aircraft: Boeing 717-200 (N923AT), relatively new aircraft operated by AirTran Airways – with special sticker: 100th Boeing Delivery
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived at about the right time.
Boarding: Was very efficient, due to the boarding zones -printed on the boarding card- called one by one.
Seats: Comfortable, but not wide enough seats, with small legroom (especially as the bottom of the previous seat had extra wiring)
Flight Attendants: There were 3 of them, they were average looking, all of them seemed friendly.
Meals: Everybody is asked if they want snacks (small pack of pretzels) and a glass of soft drink (Coca-Cola products). For USD 5 you can also get beer, wine, shots or mini-cocktails. In business class these are included in the ticket prize for economy, you may pay onboard, or while checking in on the ByePass Kiosks before your flight, which would give you vouchers.
Entertainment: Free Satellite XM radio with optional headsets (but you can use your own, too) and on-board magazine: Go. Huge SkyMall catalog

2. DAYTON, OH – ATLANTA, GA (FL 414)

Aircraft: Boeing 717-200 (N-963AT), aircraft operated by AirTran Airways
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off exactly on time, arrived 10 minutes late.
Boarding: Dayton airport was deserted on this Sunday night, no lines to que, just walk-through to the gate. Same zoned boarding used as in Atlanta, due to the low number of people plane was boarded very quickly.
Seats: As my seat was on the left side of the plane where you only have two seats, it felt a little bit more comfortable. I had a bigger guy sitting next to me, but as soon as doors were closed, he moved elsewhere, so we were both more comfortable.
Flight Attendants: There were 3 of them, average.
Meals: Same small pack of pretzels, same soft drinks as on the outbound flight.
Entertainment: Free XM satellite radio at every seat.

Overall Experience

AirTran just does what air travel is basically about: Takes you from point A to point B. Considered as a low-cost, it still offers free drinks on board which is nice, and I also liked the XM satellite radio. Other than that it does nothing more, nothing less. It’s good value for your money with efficient procedures (online booking, online check-in, efficient boarding). I paid USD 248 for my return ticket, and if I will ever visit my American families in Ohio from Atlanta again, I would take this flight once more.

by balint01

Amadeus Turns 20

amadeus logo  Amadues 20 Anniversary Logo

The largest European based GDS (Global Distribution System), Amadeus has just turned 20 years old a week ago, as it was officially established 21OCT1987 by four European Airlines: Iberia, Air France, Lufthansa and SAS. The four airlines wished to create a European GDS by merging their own computer reservation systems. The basis of the new GDS was System One, an existing US reservation system.

Within a year they have opened their headquarters in Madrid, Spain, their development center in Nice, France, and have started construction on the new Data Center, in Erding, Germany. In 1989 they have launched AmadeusPro to allow travel agents to book flights through neutral screens, while already 11 airlines were Amadeus users. One year later the Erding Data Center opened, which costed $200 million altogether, and was capable of handling 150 million transactions in the first year. 1991 saw 45.000 terminals being connected to Amadeus, while in 1992 the new Amadeus GDS was launched with the first PNR being booked for Mr. Wolfgang Amadeus. In the first year 70 million bookings were created. 1993 saw more than 10 million bookings each month, as well as 60% of European Travel Agencies were connected to 1A (1A is the two letter IATA code of Amadeus GDS). In 1994 Austrian Airlines joined the distribution system as the 100th airline selling through Amadeus. One year later Amadeus fully acquired System One from Continental Airlines, thus becoming the largest GDS in terms of travel agency locations. In 1996 www.amadeus.net was launched, while bookings topped 309 million. Only about 50% of old System One users accepted the forced migration to Amadeus. In 1997 Amadeus celebrated its 10 year anniversary, while serving 32% of the travel agency market worldwide, and the first Amadeus powered travel website was also launched by Icelandair.

In 1998, the first year of their second decade, they launched the SAP Travel Management tool, which is fully integrated with SAP’s finance and HR modules, and their data center handled one million transactions in a single day for the first time. By 1999, around 80 airlines and 3000 travel agencies rely on 1A e-commerce solutions, and this is the year, when 1A launches the world’s first neutral Electronic Ticketing solution: the Amadeus E-Ticket Server (ETS). In 2000 and 2001 Amadeus lays down the plans for the coming years, by starting development on Vista (a browser based version of their reservation system), on new Inventory and Departure Control Systems (for British Airways and Qantas as the first customers), as well as announcing the new Altéa Customer Management Solution. In 2003 the annual number of bookings passes the 400 million mark, while new airlines launch their websites based on 1A, among them bmi and Qantas. In 2005 Amadeus shifts its “identity” to become “Your Technology Partner”, and repositions itself as a leading Airline IT service provider. To support this change, they win a major contract to support the Star Alliance with a new Common IT Platform for all member airlines. Last year Amadeus handled 499 million bookings, and by 2007 they provide 192 airlines with their e-Ticketing. This year they have launched MoneyDirect as a Joint Venture with Sabre.

As the leading Airline IT provider, they provide the capacity for common shared access to flight reservations and frequent flyer information to nearly 150 airlines as Amadeus Altéa Reservation airlines (formerly known as System User). Current Amadeus Altéa Reservation customers include:

  • 6 of the 11 oneworld airlines (55%)
  • 13 of the 21 Star Alliance airlines (61%)
  • 3 of the 10 SkyTeam airlines (30%)

And with the Common IT Platform for Star, this number will raise in the future. As we can see, in the first 18 years Amadeus focused on the travel agencies (and seems like they have won on that front being the leader on the market), and now they start to focus on Airlines. If they are as successful on this market as with the travel agencies, they may be the largest player in this field as well, within the next few years. It looks like they have started down the right path to do that.

http://www.amadeus.com/2020/

On the dedicated anniversary website you can find some more items besides the history of Amadeus, such as future plans, and thank you notes. They also added a fun “Personal Note for you” feature, with a personalized message, don’t miss that one, either!

We would also wish Amadeus a Happy 20th Birthday on behalf of AirlineWorld Blog!

by balint01

Amadeus And Sabre Launch Moneydirect

As Airlineworld has reported earlier, Amadeus and Sabre plan a joint venture to provide secure payment clearing and reconciliation service for non-air travel sales. Yesterday the two GDS (Global Distribution System) providers revealed some details about this new entity. In our previous article we have mentioned that the new joint venture required an antitrust approval from the European Commission, which they have received on 12SEP2007. The new solution called Moneydirect is based on an Amadeus product launched in Australia and New Zealand in 1998 already. It will focus on hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, car rental companies, ferries, railways, and travel intermediaries such as travel agencies and wholesalers.

James Filsinger, chief executive officer and general manager of Moneydirect, said operations, which are currently hosted in Australia, will move to Ireland, with subsidiary offices in Australia and the U.S. He said travel agencies can use Moneydirect to pass payments onto suppliers minus their commissions. They also can use it to schedule several payments to cruise and tour companies in installments.

Moneydirect logo

 

Moneydirect also will address currency issues, he said. For example, a U.S. travel agent who books a hotel in Australia might get a $10 check issued in Australian dollars 90 days later. Moneydirect will enable the hotel to transfer the amount immediately directly into the agency’s bank account. “Payment can go in either direction,” Filsinger said. “If a hotel company manages hotel commissions directly, it can use Moneydirect to pay agencies.”

He said the platform is flexible enough to handle transactions in which the agent has a net rate and can retain the markup when the customer’s credit card is charged the full price for a travel component. Any size agency, hotel or other travel company can use the product, he said. “Even a small company that provides scuba tours can use it, so it may open the door to some new content that wasn’t already available before,” he said.

Filsinger said the fee structure has not yet been finalized but will be transaction-based. “We have a fee model that ranges from 10 to 20 cents, depending on the type of transaction,” he said. Moneydirect will be GDS-independent, he said. The joint venture is looking at ways in which it can communicate with agencies’ back-office systems in an efficient manner.

In granted approval to the joint venture, the EC said it concluded that “the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it. . .. There would be no horizontal or vertical overlaps between the activities of Moneydirect and its parent companies.”

The EC added that “this business is not closely related to the parties’ GDS business” and Amadeus and Sabre “have put in place structures to limit the information flows between Moneydirect and its parent companies.”

So Amadeus and Sabre has started on the road to provide an IATA BSP type of solution for travel agencies using their systems. The IATA BSP provides the same service of a general clearing house, but only in relation to air travel – between IATA member airlines and IATA member travel agencies selling those airlines’ tickets. Now the agencies (using Amadeus and Sabre reservation systems) will be able to take usage of similar services in relation with the other travel related content which they offer to their customers – their life will indeed be made much easier. Looking forward what will be the next cooperation between Amadeus and Sabre!

by balint01 (based on ATW News)

100% E-Ticketing: IATA Places Last Order For Paper Tickets

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!

TAT Type Paper Ticket

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!

by balint01

100% E-Ticketing = 96.5% E-Ticketing!

As AirlineWorld had reported earlier, IATA has extended the deadline for 100% Electronic Ticketing. Not so long ago IATA has also admitted (which they probably knew all along the road) that pure 100% Electronic Ticketing (ET) will never be reachable for the whole market. Here is a quote from IATA (Bryan Wilson, ET Project Director in an ATW Webinar):

“We now understand the real target is 96.5%” *

* for IATA BSP’s (central clearing house solution for travel agents and airlines in most of the major IATA markets around the globe)

96.5% non-paper ticketing

Now the question is this: Where is that remaining 3.5% and how come it will remain Paper Ticketing?

First of all, about 20% of interline journeys (itineraries that involve more than one airline) will remain paper ticket based due to the interline ET agreement not being in place between the two involved airlines (this accounts for 2.4% of the total), about 1% of tickets will be paper tickets as per the choice of the travel agents, and about 0.1% will be accounted for airlines who choose not to introduce electronic ticketing at all. IATA says, this “remaining 3.5% will be satisfied by other means.” This “other means” would actually mean other, non-ET solutions, such as an agent issuing a paper MPD (Multi-Purpose Document), which then later is turned into a ticket by the airline, or some of the airlines deploying their own paper ticket stocks at agencies, who then issue paper tickets for that particular airline. (At the moment IATA centrally deploys the airline independant paper ticket stocks to their registered travel agencies worldwide, so this responsibility would be moved from IATA to the airline that chose not to move to 100% ET, at their own expenses.)

96.5% of airlines involved 

IATA has classified each member airline to a group (that is differentiated by a color) based on their plans/state of ET readiness. Out of 348 IATA member airlines that used the IATA BSP in May 2007:

  • Platinum (100% ET): 9 airlines
  • Green (own ET and interline ET enabled): 156 airlines
  • Yellow (own ET in BSP only – at the moment): 62 airlines
  • Orange (having a plan for ET, including 1st date of ET in BSP): 85 airlines
  • Red (no plan for ET yet): 0 airlines (so all members have expressed their plans by MAY07)
  • Purple (does not plan to implement ET at all): 33 airlines
  • Brown (will use another airline code to issue tickets): 3 airlines

This means 3 airlines will be “hidden” behind another carrier using the same airline code, so they will practically introduce ET, and will have some backoffice accounting work to do in-house. 33 airlines however (almost 10% of all member airlines!!) plan not to roll-out Electronic Ticketing at all! This is quite a surprising number at first glance, but in reality, these are mostly very small, charter airlines who do not sell their tickets via travel agencies and reservation systems, so they can have their own alternative ways to replace electronic tickets and they actually only account for about 0.1% of the total sales. But 321 airlines (89% of the member airlines) will fulfill the BSP (travel agency) enabled Electronic Ticketing requirement by the prolonged deadline of 31MAY2008!! This is a great achievement!

96.5% of all tickets sold at travel agencies

On the other hand, if we look at ticket volumes the situation slightly changes. As you would guess, if a large airline becomes ET enabled, and especially interline ET enabled (is able to sell ET’s that include another airline) with more and more partner airlines, the ticket volume percentage would jump much more! So by MAY2007 the global penetration of ET’s within the IATA BSP’s (travel agency sales) was already at 80.7%! IATA projects this number to grow to 92% by the end of the year. The difference from there to reach the above mentioned 96.5% means 18 million tickets!! Quite a lot if you try to imagine this many paper tickets physically – it would make a really huge pile of paper, even though these 18 million paper tickets only account for 4.5% of worldwide airline ticket sales! By thinking about this, it’s much easier to imagine that by stopping paper ticket issuance totally and moving to 100% ET really can save the worldwide airline industry about 3 billion USD annually. (Not to mention all the environmental impacts…)

96.5% in Interline Volumes

Based on the above numbers, IATA has decided to extend the deadline for the issuance of the last paper tickets at an IATA registered travel agency, due to the fact that it is believed some airlines would not be able to make it by the end of 2007 (the original deadline). Also the service providers are overloaded with interline ET connection requests, which they seem not to be able to handle before the year end. IATA foresees that by the end of 2007, some 2100 interline Agreements will be introduced, which would cover about 75% of all interline connections. In terms of ticket volumes, this means a higher percentage. To get to the desired level of 80% (which would mean 2300 agreements), many service providers and airlines would have to be involved at an increased pace, and the difference would actually be 2.3 million tickets!

by balint01


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