It has been noted that the use of e-tickets across Europe increased last year as airlines, travel agents and travellers welcomed the concept of paperless ticketing.
Sabre alone processed 426,000 European e-tickets, an eight percent increase on the year before. In the UK, 21 percent of all air bookings processed last year in the Sabre® global distribution system (GDS) were ticketed electronically.
In just the last three months of 2001, seven carriers (Alaskan Airlines, Alitalia, American Airlines, SAS, Singapore Airlines, TAP Air Portugal and United Airlines) expanded their European e-ticketing capabilities in Sabre. Over the course of the year in those European markets where it offers the service, the GDS issued an average of one e-ticket for every nine paper tickets.
Sabre now offers European e-ticketing for 15 of the 40 airlines that issue e-tickets through the GDS. The company plans to introduce new or expanded e-ticketing functionality in various European markets during 2002. This will involve at least seven airlines; Air Canada, Air France, Continental, Delta, KLM, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
Sabre`s managing director of associate sales and service, Laura Lukan, commented that the surge in the popularity of e-ticketing in Europe had been inevitable.
“E-tickets have already proved immensely popular in the Asia Pacific region, and in North America nearly 7 out of every 10 tickets are issued electronically.”
E-ticketing is proving so popular around the world that Sabre`s development laboratories are working with airlines on a number of alternative ways to use the technology. These include sending passengers an SMS message with an e-ticket barcode, enabling them to check in or board the aircraft simply by swiping their mobile phones over a scanner at the airport. Other concepts include a secure smart card that can be credited with a ticket or boarding pass, which can then be debited when the passenger checks in at the airport.
Lukan noted that following the USA terrorist events in September last year,e-ticketing successfully overcame several security criticisms.
“It hasn`t taken long for people to realise that e-tickets are as secure, if not more so, than paper tickets. For a start, they can only be issued on production of a valid form of identity. Secondly, a boarding pass is issued only after check-in at the airport, reducing the risk of paperwork falling into the wrong hands”.