09 September 2007

Last call for paper tickets - the end of the line for paper?

With much fanfare IATA announced that it was placing its last call for paper tickets.

However let us be a bit of a naysayer here. We see there are 2 issues.
A) will ALL the world world's airlines meet the deadline?
B) is the absence of paper tickets really a savings to the airlines?

The answer to A is definitely NO. There will be (and I will eat something vile in public if anyone can prove to me that all airlines meet the May 2008 deadline). Specifically Airlines in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East are struggling with this deadline. Some are just accepting that they will be cut off come the end of May. We believe that IATA needs to arrange some accommodation for these (typically smaller and less financially able) carriers. We are concerned that there will be a new class division of "Have" vs. "Have Not" airlines which will last for some time. Be careful IATA what you wish for.....

The issue of B is more interesting. Having spent years involved in the revenue accounting, ticketing and financial fulfillment side of air transportation - we can assure our dear readers that the processes are less than exemplary. The designs and solutions that have been implemented are rather arcane in their design and in some cases diabolical in their complexity of implementation. It is here that the LCCs have provided a lesson and a model to the rest of the Industry. Ticketless - IE a completely different approach that eliminates the need for even a notional ticket (as e-tickets do) - is a far better solution for simplification and reduction in paperwork and administration. We believe that after May 2008 - and independently of IATA - we will see a greater move away from the e-ticket idea to a pure ticketless implementation.

Of course this begs the question - if we have pure ticketless - should IATA have any say or even sponsorship of such systems as BSPs? Given the removal of anti-trust immunity and the general improvement in commercial conditions worldwide, we believe now is a good time to start to think of a Non-BSP world. If IATA was really keen to reduce the complexity of the business then they should set a date (2010 sounds nice) when they sunset BSP.

OK Mr. Bisignani, why not consider this for the future? Why not drive this home. It would result in a far better solution for the world and a significant savings for the world's airlines not to mention a reduction in your own organization which in turn would result in savings to your members.

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