By Desie Heita
The entire airline industry has finally converted from issuing paper tickets to an electronic ticketing system. May 30 was the deadline for all airlines to convert from paper tickets to electronic tickets.
Air Namibia was one of the very few African airlines at the forefront of the project and completed the conversion way before the deadline. By August 2006, Air Namibia had rolled-out the e-ticket programme in more than 70 percent of all its routes. At that time the deadline was December 31, 2007, but was extended after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) realised that airlines from developing and emerging countries were battling to introduce the system. Other African airlines that succeeded last year were South African Airways and Kenya Airways.
Xavier Masule, who was the project leader responsible for rolling out the e-ticket system at Air Namibia, says the airline has long converted its ticketing system to the electronic version and would soon launch the service officially.
E-ticketing is a method to document the sale and track the usage of the transportation of a passenger without requiring the issuance of a paper value document. Instead of the normal carbon paper ticket, there is now enhanced electronic record keeping, facilitated by the application of existing technology and supported by a valid business case.
Consumers can look forward to easier travel in an electronic world, as 100 percent electronic ticketing eliminates lost tickets. E-tickets can easily be changed and re-issued without necessitating a trip to a travel agency or airline ticket office. And they enable a wide array of self-service options such as online and mobile check-in.
Paper tickets date back to the 1920s. Each airline used a different form with varying rules. Airlines soon recognised the need to standardise traffic documents, regulations and procedures to support the growth of an industry that spanned the world. In 1930, the IATA traffic committee developed the first standard hand-written ticket for multiple trips. These same standards served the industry into the early 1970s. The system has gone through major changes since then.
When buying an electronic ticket, passengers will not be issued with a paper ticket, but will be provided with an “itinerary receipt” as proof of purchase and this receipt will give a summary of ticket details such as passenger name, date of travel, destination and other notices. Electronic ticketing offers an option to fax or e-mail the itinerary receipt to the passenger.
“Today we say goodbye to an industry icon,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “The paper ticket has served us well, but its time is over. After four years of hard work by airlines around the world, tomorrow marks the beginning of a new, more convenient and more efficient era for air travel,” said Bisignani.