By Petronella Sibeene
Air Namibia this week entered the world of technology as the national airline Tuesday officially launched its Internet booking and ticketing service.
The new service is already proving profitable with 7 985 tickets valued at N$19.8 million issued in the first seven months of the project’s pilot stage that started in October 2007. Another 1 270 tickets with a monetary value of N$11 million were rejected due to suspected fraud.
Air Namibia Managing Director Kosmos Egumbo at the launch said 77 percent of travellers around the globe use the Internet for booking, a service that has been lacking in Namibia.
“It has been a while since we wanted to do this (introduce Internet booking service) but we had to first understand the service (before rolling it out),” he said.
With 66 percent of Air Namibia’s users hailing from Europe, 25 percent from the SADC region and 15 percent from Namibia, Egumbo added it was important for the company to come up with an enhanced product.
“Travel related sites dominate overall online activity. We are serious in our business to grow travel and tourism in Namibia,” he said.
The Internet is a fast growing channel and the challenge is to convert lookers to bookers. Thus Air Namibia has to develop informed and targeted distribution and marketing strategies to maximize the performance of each channel, said the Air Namibia managing director.
A United Kingdom (UK) based aviation industry solution provider Videcom powers Air Namibia’s Internet booking and ticketing system.
The credit card payment is managed by PayGate (Pty) Limited, a South African outfit specializing in the provision of online credit payment gateways.
Vice-Chairperson of Air Namibia Board Lea Namoloh says the decision to revamp the website and introduce the new Internet service is part of the implementing e-business strategy adopted by Air Namibia.
“The Internet booking engine implemented aims at meeting growing customer needs and demands … the Internet booking system will also improve competitiveness of our airline through cost reduction and revenue enhancement,” she said.
Namoloh reiterated: “Today’s business environment forces airlines to focus on both their costs and service delivery capabilities. Internet based booking and ticketing systems deliver major economic benefits for airlines such as reduced selling costs and reduced staff costs as the customer does much of the work themselves.”
Currently, the system allows customers to buy their tickets using master card and visa credit cards.
Other credit and debit card types will become acceptable in future only after continuous risk assessment and discovery of controls considered adequate to mitigate identified risks are carried out.
During the second phase of the project that commences in September 2008, the national airline intends to introduce a process that will enable customers to buy duty free items online.
Additional services to be introduced include the creation of a portal which business partners, travel agents can use to service their customers using Air Namibia’s Internet booking and ticketing solution.
Namoloh said other enhancements include enabling customers to book and also access car rental services and hotel accommodation.
This phase is scheduled to be completed by June 2009.