The era of paper tickets being issued for air travel is about to end.
A ruling by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), that takes effect from May 31, mandates that every airline operating in Barbados and around the world cease issuing tickets in that form.
Instead, they must be online with electronic ticketing.
This new policy was to be in place since last December 31 but was pushed back to May in the hope all systems would be in place for e-ticketing.
President of the Airline Association of Barbados, John White, told the SUNDAY SUN the decision was a cost-saving measure that would help the industry “move with the technology”.
“Paper tickets will be history. Some airlines have even moved to total electronic ticketing already,” he said.
With the new system, passengers would simply produce their passports at the airline counter and receive boarding passes.
White said travel agents would also be issuing online tickets to customers. He added that passengers who required “paper in hand” would get a receipt or an itinerary, which could also be used when purchasing duty-free items.
White said e-tickets would see costs cut by about 25 per cent for most airlines.
“You don’t have to track paper [with e-ticketing]; you need more people and more computer systems to track paper,” he said.
White, who is also manager, sales support, at Air Canada, said only about six paper tickets were now issued on their flights which seat 210 during the winter season.
“Almost every ticket is electronic. When you see a paper ticket you wonder: ‘Where did that come from?”
Liat’s chief executive officer Mark Darby, who welcomed the move, said his airline already a “ticketless” operation.
“The e-ticket system is about simplifying the business. It will cut millions of costs out of the airline business. If we can take paper out of the system, it eliminates fraud and security,” he said.
He also believed it would speed up service and improve cash flow.
Darby said while the airline had eliminated the paperwork out of its “Liat to Liat” operation, it had to fine-tune systems with partners British Airways and Virgin Atlantic in order to meet the deadline.
Manager, sales support, at Virgin Atlantic, Jacqui Earlington, said statistics from last December indicated they would reach 90 per cent e-ticketing by the deadline.
Virgin, which partners with 60 airlines around the world, now has to make sure they are all compliant with the new e-ticketing system.
“Everybody has to be on the same page,” Earlington said.
She said the bigger airlines were pushing to meet the deadline, recognising the change would help cut costs. Earlington said Virgin rarely issued paper tickets in its regional network.
American Airlines is 100 per cent e-ticketing. Minnette Vélez of Corporate Communications for the Caribbean and Central America said: “More than a cost-saving effect, it is a convenient service to our passengers.”