Japan Airline Site Delayed

Japanese Airlines Co.`s plans to start an online booking service for domestic tickets have been delayed by system and administrative troubles that may keep the site under construction until at least mid-July.
Japan Airlines, Asia`s largest carrier, All Nippon Airways Co., Japan`s biggest domestic carrier, and Japan Air System Co. announced plans in August to begin selling domestic tickets online through a joint site called Kokunaisensen.com from April, allowing them to bypass travel agents.
``System problems and administrative delays have kept the site offline,`` Japan Airlines spokesman Takeshi Suzuki said. ``We are hoping to have it up and running in July, although no definite launch date has yet been set.``
Japan`s carriers want to reduce operating costs, and online sales mean they can avoid paying travel agent commission. The use of the Internet can also help cut administrative expenses by expanding ticketless sales and allows the airlines to offer travelers other services such as hotel bookings.
Customers using Kokunaisen.com will be able to view seat availability, flight schedules and fares, change reservations and purchase tickets by credit card. The airlines said sales for the current business year ending in March 2002 are expected to reach 100 billion yen, with an aim to increase online sales of domestic tickets to 5 percent of the total within five years.
``We are still aiming for revenue of 100 billion yen,`` All Nippon spokesman Yoshinori Kaji said.
Japan Airlines and All Nippon have also set up an Internet site with 11 other Asian carriers and Travelocity.com Inc., the largest U.S. Internet travel site. This online service offers international airline ticket and hotel booking services to Japanese travelers.
For other online plans the two carriers remain rivals. Yesterday, Japan Airlines said it will either demand compensation from All Nippon or insist that it halt bookings for a service it says copies a patented online booking system Japan Airlines started in 1999.
All Nippon`s service, aimed at corporate clients, copies Japan Airlines own service, which allows desktop computers to act as booking terminals, with ticket payments made monthly or every two months, Japan Airlines says.
``The concept is the same, but the system is completely different,`` said All Nippon`s Kaji. While Japan Airlines` system requires software to be loaded into the computer, ours is fully Internet-based, he said.
The two carriers said they plan to meet and discuss the matter.