The time may not be far away when the conventional air ticket becomes extinct.
Over the past few years, the concept of electronic ticketing has caught popular imagination, especially in the domestic sector with the advent of low cost carriers (LCCs).
With competition high and companies seeking to cut costs, all the airlines are issuing web-enabled and also offline electronic tickets.
Setting the pattern is none other than Indian (Indian Airlines), which has migrated into a new state-of-the art web-enabled ticketing service, and plans to issue only e-tickets by the middle of this year.
"Our attempt is to migrate into 100 per cent e-ticketing by mid-2007," says chairman and managing director V Trivedi.
Unlike the conventional air ticket, which resembles a bank cheque book with a glossy jacket, an e-ticket is a web-page that has the details of the passenger and itinerary. The passenger has the option of printing it out, or merely carrying the PNR details along with his identity-proof at the time of checking in.
While these tickets can be booked on the respective websites of the airlines through credit cards, they can also be booked through travel agents on cash payment.
For the airlines, the savings are clear. Ankur Bhatia of the Bird Group says internationally, e-tickets yield a savings of about $7 per ticket. In India, because of lower manpower costs, the savings could be slightly less.
Dhruv Shringi, co-founder of online travel services company Yatra.com, adds: "Apart from the savings, such platforms offer enormous flexibility to the airlines to manage their yields even upto three hours prior to the scheduled departure."
Trivedi, which announced the launch of a new technology platform in association with the Bird group on Tuesday, says such services offer other major benefits such as online check in.
"These facilities greatly help the traveller, who has little time. Besides, they increase productivity of airlines," he said.
The aviation industry has seen an unprecedented boom in the last few years, with total capacity going up to more than 100,000 seats per day as more and more airlines clamour for space in the Indian skies.
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