Airlines for e-tickets from Jun 1

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, May 27 | Updated: May 29 2008, 05:22am hrs
Air fares may be burning a hole in your pocket, but airline companies are nonetheless trying hard to cut down their operating costs. Come June 1 and all airlines in India will introduce electronic tickets (e-tickets) after IATA's (International Air Transport Association) enforcement to do away with paper tickets. Industry experts say that airlines will save on stationary cost by converting the four-coupon paper ticket into a 100% e-ticket. Of the 7-8 million international tickets, which are issued from India, close to 1.5 million are paper tickets. But in domestic travel, about 95% of tickets issued are e-tickets and 5% are paper.

All low-cost airlines in India are e-ticket-enabled. Jet Airways and Kingfisher are e-ticket enabled. "In case of an interline arrangement with international carriers for foreign travel, Indian carriers issue a four-coupon paper ticket if the partner airline is not e-ticket-enabled," said CV Prasad, president, Travel Agents Association of India, adding that Air India still has 5% paper tickets on its network. Says Jitendra Bhargava, director (PR) Air India, "We will introduce 100% e-tickets from May 31. Our interline agreements between carriers have been made e-ticket-enabled." He adds that they have informed the travel agents associations about the transformation.

However, an aviation analyst explains, "Globally, the penetration of e-tickets is 95% in Europe, 88% in the Middle East, 87% in Africa, and 97% in North Asia. The transition from paper tickets to e-tickets will mean savings on stationary cost for the airline. The cost of issuing a paper ticket is anything between $8-$10 compared to $1-$2 to process an e-ticket for any airline."

Travel agents across the country have sought government intervention to defer the enforcement of implementing 100% e-ticketing in India. Their prime concern is that e-tickets cannot exceed 16 segments and it would be difficult for airlines to make payments to each other in case of interline arrangements, specifically with airlines, which are not 100% e-ticket enabled. Bhargav adds that it could be a rare case wherein a traveller wants to travel to more then 16 segments at one go. Albert Tjoeng, communications manager, Asia Pacific, IATA said, "In the case of e-tickets, which cannot exceed 16 segments, airlines can issue a multi-purpose document (MPD)."