The hard part about getting rid of paper tickets

El Salvador’s TACA typifies many carriers looking to follow IATA’s Simplifying the Business (StB) e-ticketing initiative: it says that getting rid of the paper tickets is only the first part – the tougher part of obtaining interline e-ticketing (IET). That is where carriers which want to interline with each other must do so in a full electronic way as far as the tickets are concerned.

“Today’s challenge is becoming fully IET compliant by the end of 2007, mainly due to the high stakes of interline revenues at risk,” said Jaime Pocasangre, corporate controller and chief information officer of TACA, speaking at the recent Airline IT Summit, presented by SITA in co-operation with Airline Business. “Half of our interline revenues come from Europe so it is very important for us to meet IATA’s target, and also to do it flawlessly.” By the end of next year, IATA is committed to eliminated paper tickets altogether.

TACA has already taken some important steps on e-ticketing. It started with this technology in 2001 and now issues 91% of its tickets as e-tickets. “Our e-ticket platform has enabled phenomenal direct channel growth,” said Pocasangre, talking about the carrier’s sale of tickets on its own website.

But switching to IET is a difficult project, and has been given such a high priority by the carrier that its chief executive Roberto Kriete is directly involved.

But will e-ticketing help TACA reduce costs? “What savings?” asked Pocasangre. At first the carrier has to invest. “Now it is about generating value, not savings,” he said. “Today we still have some staff to deal with paper [tickets]. Once we are 100% [e-tickets] we will see some savings.”

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