SriLankan on track with paperless travel

SriLankan Airlines is on track to reach global e-ticketing targets this year, with 80 percent of its tickets issued worldwide now in an e-ticket format.The country’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines has been driving the changeover to electronic ticketing since January 2006, a process that has begun paying dividends.

From January to June this year the airline’s overall e-ticketing penetration spiked from 30 percent to 80 percent with issue of nearly 72,000 e-tickets versus nearly 18,000 paper tickets in June.

These sales are entirely through travel agents, though adding up sales from the airline’s ticket offices and online portal could take penetration to over 90 percent.

“This is an outstanding achievement for SriLankan Airlines and we have made remarkable progress in spreading e-ticketing across our network in so short a time. There’s no doubt that e-ticketing is helping passengers around the world in terms of convenience and the airline to increase productivity,” Manoj Gunawardena, Head of Worldwide Passenger Sales at SriLankan Airlines said.

“We have already achieved a high number of e-ticket sales in the airline’s own reservations system and in global distribution systems. With the addition of more airline partners we believe that we will be able to reach the goal of achieving 100% e-ticketing by the end of 2007.”

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It took six months to put the necessary technology and technical expertise in place to enable travel agents and the airline’s ticketing and reservation systems to process e-tickets.

The growth since then has been phenomenal.

“Available data indicates that we are among the leading airlines for e-ticketing in Thailand with 99.4 percent penetration and have also reached 93 percent e-ticketing in one of our biggest markets India,” Suranga Perera, Planning Manager Information Technology at SriLankan, said.

SriLankan Airlines has also tied up with 40 interline e-ticketing airline partners to date, completing the projects in record time. A total of 50 interline agreements are likely to be finalised by year end, putting SriLankan in the top tier of airlines to do so.

SriLankan partnered with Emirates Airlines to implement e-ticketing, lowering costs resulting in substantial economies of scale.

“All of this was possible because of the expertise and dedication of the technical team that pulled this together. We also achieved huge economies of scale in our collaboration with Emirates that allowed us to make such quick progress in so short a time,” Perera said.

Switching over to e-ticketing gives passengers greater flexibility, allows last minute changes to the itinerary and also cuts down the heavy costs involved in printing and processing a paper ticket.

E-ticketing saves an estimated US$ 9 out of the US$ 10 cost of issuing and processing a paper ticket, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Estimates show that 100 percent e-ticketing by May 2008 could save the airline industry US$ 3 billion. No paper tickets are to be issued after this date.

“SriLankan Airlines is making impressive strides with its Electronic Ticket programme, almost tripling the percentage of tickets issued using ET within a short span of six months. This would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of all involved in SriLankan Airlines. And equally noteworthy is that 60% of the tickets issued in Sri Lanka are now in electronic format. This has contributed positively to the Global and Asia Pacific ET penetration rates of 82% and 73% respectively,” said Mike Barclay, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Asia Pacific.

SriLankan Airlines flies to 51 destinations in 28 countries. The airline has many accolades to its credit, among them the Imperial Mark for exceptional levels of service and quality and Foreign Carrier of the year
(2006) in South Asia. Emirates Airlines currently holds a 43.6 percent stake in SriLankan Airlines.
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