On Cloud Nine



Irrespective
of the travel destination, today one can book the air ticket sitting in the
comfort of one’s office or home, and do a lot of other stuff like
re-scheduling the journey, choosing the seat and can even do a web check in.
While airline companies are offering Internet based services for a while it is
only with the advent of no frills low cost airline companies that increased the
awareness levels. eTicketing has almost become a norm with IATA advancing the
vision of 100% implementation of eTicketing globally by 2007.

Key Trends for 2006
  • eTicketing has almost become a
    norm with IATA advancing the vision of 100% implementation of
    eTicketing globally by 2007

  • Airlines will explore feasibility
    of eliminating all paper documents

  • Websites of airlines will become
    major eCommerce sites of India

  • No abatement in investment in IT

The
airline companies need to ramp up their IT infrastructure to meet the demands of
a digital economy. IATA’s aim to eliminate paper tickets also works in favor
of the airline companies, which need to shell out huge sums on ticket
stationary. For instance, IATA processes 300 mn tickets every year. Producing an
eTicket costs just around $1 as compared to a paper ticket, which costs around
$30.

To
bring in a technology standardization across the world, IATA has put in place an
action list, and on top of the agenda are tasks like: stopping the disbursement
of paper tickets by the end of 2007, coordinating with stakeholders to ensure
readiness, examining the feasibility of eliminating all other paper documents.

As we
look at the industry dynamics, two kinds of players-budget and full service
operators constitute the market. But in terms of IT, irrespective of the kind of
airways, all have good systems in place. Take the case of Air Deccan, which has
made a record of sorts through its site, which has become one of the biggest
eCommerce sites in India.

The
pressure from IATA in the coming days on pro-active IT systems tuned for 100%
eTicketing makes airline a hot vertical that will go on aggressive IT spending
mode both in terms of hardware and new apps. Hence it’s a big opportunity for
the vendors. At the same time, all these developments indicate that the CIOs of
airline companies also face numerous challenges in evolving an IT model that can
scale up as things evolve. We spoke to some CIOs of airline companies and
checked about the state of IT infrastructure.

Says
Arvind Saksena, CIO, Air Deccan, “We detached from the norm of collaborating
with the global distribution system (GDS) and evolved our own Airline
Distribution System (ADS) as our aim was to offer state-of-the-art services at
lower cost and a system on our own made business sense.” Another low cost
carrier Spice Jet also took the eCommerce route and developed its own systems
and by taking a minimalist approach to its eCommerce portal has created a
user-friendly interface that makes eTicketing a child’s play.

As we
look at the full service carriers like Jet Airways, they too have
state-of-the-art IT infrastructure as they have been ruling the airspace for the
past few years.

Consulting Panel

Virender Pal GM-IT (Spl
Projects), SpiceJet

Arvind
Saxena
, CIO, Air Deccan


Looking
at some of the IT challenges, the most important one is managing system uptime.
For instance when the portal is down for even a few minutes, it means huge loss
in revenue. Another challenge is working on the payment gateway, so that the
passenger is absolutely comfortable doing an eTransaction with the credit card.
For instance, it took Spice Jet nearly two-thirds of the overall time for
developing the payment gateway for the website.

If the
airline company aims at maximizing its eTicketing, it should have multiple
points of ticket bookings. When Easy Jet, a successful low cost carrier in
Europe, started operations a few years back, they had online bookings along with
multiple points of sale for selling tickets. In all, a CIO has to explore a
whole lot factors in deploying IT and in the bargain has to choose best of the
breed solutions.

Shrikanth G   
shrikanthg@cybermedia.co.in
 

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