GDS (Global Distribution System) News

April 5, 2012

Blue Islands Implements Highest Level Participation Agreement with Amadeus

AirKiosk system customer Blue Islands, a regional carrier operating from the Channel Islands, has successfully completed a connection with Amadeus at the highest level of participation.

The new link for Blue Islands between the AirKiosk system and Amadeus includes Amadeus Active Sell, Amadeus Active Update and IATA ET (Electronic Ticketing). The link employs a direct line between the AirKiosk and Amadeus systems, carrying EDIFACT and AIRIMP messages.

Amadeus Active Sell, also called Interactive Sell, allows travel agents to access and book Blue Islands seats in real time, eliminating booking errors caused by delays in the update of seat availability displays inherent with the Type B traffic used in Standard Participation Agreements.

Amadeus Active Update, also called Dynamic Schedule, allows Blue Islands to update its schedule in Amadeus directly, in real time, eliminating the delays of schedule updates performed through third parties such as OAG and Innovata.

IATA ET is the industry standard for paperless ticketing through traditional distribution channels.

Blue Islands has been an AirKiosk system user since 2005, when it was established by Healthspan. In 2011 Blue Islands became an independent company.

Blue Islands is the premier low fare airline operating flights between the Channel Islands and to destinations in the United Kingdom and Switzerland, including London City, Manchester, the Isle of Man, Zurich and Geneva.

The AirKiosk system is a complete reservations solution for airlines, providing inventory and distribution management with integrated E-ticketing, frequent flyer programs, data warehousing, online payment solutions and seat selection and check-in, both online and at the airport.

AirKiosk, AirCashier, AirXML, DataRunway, AirSQL and DepartureKiosk are trademarks of Sutra Inc.

Playing Chicken with Airline Distribution Channels

January 11, 2011

American Airlines website

The New Year began with the most significant travel distribution news in at least a decade, some “fireworks” which will have a dramatic influence on the airline and travel markets.

For some time, American Airlines has been talking about the revival of direct distribution channels, including direct distribution to travel agencies, and it didn’t hide its effort to develop a new API for this channel based on XML messaging. Sometime last year, American was ready with its API and began to launch its challenge.

As American’s contracts with major Online Travel Agencies (OTA) began coming up for renewal, American dared to suggest to the OTA companies that the link to its schedule and fares should be “direct connect” to American’s reservation system, instead of through the old fashioned (and costly) GDS technologies and protocols.

In late December 2010, announcing it was unable to reach an agreement with Orbitz to implement a direct connect link, American removed its fares from the Orbitz website.

In an odd display of comradeship, Orbitz competitor Expedia responded on New Year’s Day by removing American flights from its website. Then, within a week, Sabre, American’s largest GDS partner (and a former subsidiary) downgraded American flights in its displays, increased American’s fees, and moved to bring an early end to its distribution agreement with American.

It is not as if direct distribution was unknown in the industry before this event, nor as if many airlines don’t have a preference for direct Internet distribution over distribution through intermediaries such as the GDS companies. But the fact that a major, global carrier decided to break out of the “sacred” chain of Airline–>GDS–>OTA, meant that, after all, this chain may not be as indispensable as the GDS and OTA companies want us to believe.

News coverage, quoting a variety of industry personalities (aligned in some way with the GDS and OTA companies), has primarily portrayed American’s stand for direct connection as “a new model that is anti-consumer and anti-choice.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the ability of a travel website to display an airline’s fares using a direct connection to the airline’s database is what allows consumers to see the most up-to-date information, including fares which may be available on the airline website but have still not been loaded in the GDS databases.

Strangely enough, the direct connect model is already deployed by many OTA companies to display the fares of airlines not present in the GDS databases. Consumers have benefited, not been harmed, by this. American’s proposal does not introduce any new policy, and certainly no technology hurdle, to the OTA business.

But American is now the most illustrious airline to insist on bypassing the GDS model.

In my opinion, American Airlines is being discriminated against, if not bullied, in an attempt by the GDS and OTA companies to prevent a domino effect of other global airlines going in the same direction.

But the GDS and OTA companies are on the losing end of this battle. Since the creation of the World Wide Web, the implementation of direct connectivity between the source of information and its end users has been inevitable. It was just a matter of time before the major airlines would begin to fully embrace the potential of the Internet. And consumers will benefit.

Happy New Year. It is already looking like an interesting one.

Novak

Volagratis, AirKiosk System Link

March 28, 2009

AirKiosk System customer Blu-Express.com on BravoFly.com

Cheap fares from Rome, with Blu-express on BravoFly.com

Flights of Blu-Express.com, the low-cost brand of Blue Panorama Airlines, are now available for sale through BravoFly.com using an AirXML Service link between the popular travel booking site and the AirKiosk Internet Reservations System.

Blue Panorama Airlines organized the connection project, marking another milestone in its innovation of low-cost distribution strategies.

“We are very pleased with the link between our AirKiosk AirXML and Volagratis, which powers the BravoFly site,” said George Michalopoulos, Commercial Director of Blu-Express.com. “The AirXML API, which has become a cornerstone of our distribution strategy, once again has proven highly reliable and easy for customers to link to.”

Volagratis developers took advantage of the full suite of AirXML API transactions – from realtime fares availability to direct payment option – to build the link, a process completed within few weeks.

The Volagratis link to Blu-Express.com flights is direct, involving no third-party databases or systems.

“The savings for airlines here is remarkable,” said Novak Niketic, President of AirKiosk System and AirXML Service provider Sutra, Inc. “When an airline’s link to a travel site does not go through GDS processing, at least nine dollars per roundtrip ticket is eliminated,” he said.

Even more important, Niketic noted, is that airlines do not need to dedicate scarce resources to keeping intermediate systems such as OAG and ATPCO synchronized with daily fare changes driven by revenue management in the AirKiosk System.

Blue Panorama, Italy’s second largest long-haul carrier, launched the Blu-Express.com brand in November 2005 with the AirKiosk System as its solution for inventory, distribution and revenue management. Blu-express.com is the only low-cost airline based at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

The AirXML Service has become a major factor in travel distribution since its introduction in September 2006, directly connecting travel agency, corporate and special-interest websites with the realtime fares display and booking of airlines using the AirKiosk System.

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Sources: Sutra, Inc. and Blue Panorama Airlines S.p.A.

Expedia, AirKiosk System Link

February 23, 2009

Cheap fares from Rome, with Blu-express on Expedia.it

Flights of Blu-Express.com, the low-cost brand of Blue Panorama Airlines, are now available for sale through Expedia using an AirXML Service link between the popular travel booking site and the AirKiosk Internet Reservations System.

Blue Panorama Airlines organized the connection project, marking another milestone in its innovation of low-cost distribution strategies.

“We are very pleased with the launch of our AirKiosk AirXML link to Expedia,” said George Michalopoulos, Commercial Director of Blu-Express.com. “The AirXML API, which has become a cornerstone of our distribution strategy, once again has proven highly reliable and easy for customers to link to.”

Expedia developers took advantage of the full suite of AirXML API transactions – from realtime fares availability to direct electronic ticketing – to build the link, a process completed within 30 days.

The Expedia link to Blu-Express.com flights is direct, involving no third-party databases or systems.

“The savings for airlines here is remarkable,” said Novak Niketic, President of AirKiosk System and AirXML Service provider Sutra, Inc. “When an airline’s link to a travel site does not go through GDS processing, at least nine dollars per roundtrip ticket is eliminated,” he said.

Even more important, Niketic noted, is that airlines do not need to dedicate scarce resources to keeping intermediate systems such as OAG and ATPCO synchronized with daily fare changes driven by revenue management in the AirKiosk System.

Blue Panorama, Italy’s second largest long-haul carrier, launched the Blu-Express.com brand in November 2005 with the AirKiosk System as its solution for inventory, distribution and revenue management. Blu-express.com is the only low-cost airline based at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

The AirXML Service has become a major factor in travel distribution since its introduction in September 2006, directly connecting travel agency, corporate and special-interest websites with the realtime fares display and booking of airlines using the AirKiosk System.

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Sources: Sutra, Inc. and Blue Panorama Airlines S.p.A.

Got (Electronic) Tickets?

December 1, 2008

AirKiosk system chief developer Novak Niketic
addresses the E-Ticketing vs. Ticketless debate.

The Airline Industry is one of those in which experts and outsiders can be clearly recognized by the amount of jargon used in a discussion. Within the Industry, no matter if one is on the side of transformation into a more open model, or one is still jealously trying to keep the IBM TPF core programming environment unchanged, we are all guilty of speaking too much in a “foreign” language.

Through phraseology and acronyms, we ensure a distance between us and the uninitiated, whether for genuinely more efficient communication among ourselves or smug enjoyment, I am not sure. It is fun, sometimes, to notice the grimaces of pain on the faces of our new students, when we are describing the creation of a basic reservation using terms such as PNR, triple-A, queues, or when talking about passenger protection and re-accommodation.

And as if this were not enough, we will quickly invent new terminology to put a gloss on why a new concept is good, or an old system still better than the new. At the end of day, everything is about marketing.

One of the latest trends in the Industry is to distinguish Reservations systems based on the way they handle ticketing . A system can be Ticketless or E-Ticketing, and by this single definition, you should understand almost everything about it.

What is the difference between E-Ticketing and Ticketless?

E-Ticketing
E-Ticketing solutions produce ticket coupons in an electronic format. This allows the status of each coupon to be updated across different E-Ticket databases (ETDB), and for the control of E-Tickets to be passed from one airline to another.

E-Ticket coupons are modified by the system in a real-time fashion, as the passenger’s status changes through the airport handling process. As soon as the flight is closed after departure, each coupon of the passengers on board will obtain flown status, and the Interline partner will send a settlement authorization code.

E-Ticket sales and used E-Ticket coupons can be reported in a format recognized by IATA BSP and IDEC, for billing and settlement.

The prerequisites for E-Ticketing Agency sales through the GDS:

  • IATA 2-character (alphanumeric) code,
  • IATA 3-digit accounting code,
  • OAG filing,
  • ATPCO filing,
  • BSP subscription,
  • Physical link between GDS and Reservations system:
    • Direct line between the two systems, whichcan be VPN,
    • Support of the Industry H-t-H protocol, and
    • EDIFACT parser.
  • GDS Participation Agreement
    • Type A / H-t-H,
    • Interactive Sell

Prerequisites for Interlining:

  • Implemented E-Ticketing,
  • GBR Agreement,
  • Link between Interline partners ETDB,
  • IDEC subscription.

Other prerequisites:

  • Real-time access to the ETDB from the DCS environment.

E-Ticketing transactions are described in the IATA Resolution 722f and 733h. The main transactions are:

    Messages for Interlining:MSG 107 – Passing and regaining control of E-Ticket coupons,
    MSG 142 – Changing E-Ticket coupon status,
    MSG 751 – Airport control, and
    MSG 131 – Display E-Ticket 

    Messages for Agency Sales:

    MSG 130 – E-Ticket Issuance,
    MSG 133 – E-Ticket Void,
    MSG 134 – E-Ticket Exchange,
    MSG 135 – E-Ticket Refund,
    MSG 131 – Display E-Ticket

The main justification for development of the IATA E-Ticket standards was to get rid of Ticket paper stock, so in this respect, this solution can also be called ticketless, … but it is not Ticketless!J.

Ticketless

The main characteristic of a Ticketless solution is that it does not allow the exchange of the Ticket records among systems using IATA E-Ticket standards. In this respect the solution doesn’t require IATA registration, nor does it require connectivity to the GDSs in order to support Interline Agreements with the airlines hosted by the GDS companies.

As most carriers today will not allow Interlining, unless a partner airline is E-Ticket certified, The Ticketless solution will not support mainstream Interlining.

Nevertheless, a Ticketless solution can still produce electronic ticket records, and may have capabilities to electronically change the status of ticket coupons. And airlines could exchange ticket information, for example using XML. But this “e-ticketing” is not E-Ticketing!

Hybrid solutions

There are several solutions which are labeled as Ticketless with E-Ticketing capabilities, however, if one examines the description of the E-Ticketing aspects, it should become clear that these ” solutions for E-Ticketing problem” are not same as having an implementation of E-Ticketing.

The hybrid solutions are solutions where the E-Ticketing links are not inherent to the solution itself, but they use other companies’ E-Ticket database and Industry links to the GDSs and BSP.

This sounds quite expensive.

How to figure out, which solution is best for my airline?

The answer to this question should be sought within the framework of an airline’s business model and the market place an airline operates within.

    • Leisure marketplace, primary sales in your home markets. Examples, Ryannair, Easy Jet, Jet2.
    • Huge penetration of Credit Cards, ie. UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, US,
    • Reliable Internet infrastructure and decent history of consumer Internet sales, US, most European countries, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and a few other Asian countries,
    • No dependence on IATA Travel Agents, this one is tough
    • No Interlining, except through allotments (block seats).
    • Internet in early phases of development, or consumers’ Internet buying habits are still poor,
    • Cash is the most common form of payment (low credit/debit card use),
    • Primary booking channel for consumers is through Travel Agents,
    • Interlining is requiredto boost load factors.
    • Most markets, outside the top developed countries,
    • Decent penetration of Internet,
    • Strong Marketing to promote online P2P connectivity with the largest Travel Agencies and corporate accounts,
    • Interlining, but no GDS agencies sales,
    • Niche or protected markets, such as flag carriers, commuters, private clubs, etc.
  • Category A: Ticketless, good enough

    There are clear situations (business models) in which the Ticketless solution is sufficient:

    Category B: E-Ticketing and Industry networking are a Must

    For these markets, there is no choice but to acquire a solution with the highest level of Industry connectivity, preferably one that includes E-Ticketing.

    Category C: Markets in transition to E-commerce

    Airlines in these markets could survive without the highest level connectivity to the Industry systems, but any alternative model would require people with the skills to understand how to develop alternative forms of payment collection and settlement.

So, is Ticketless good or bad?

That depends on who you ask, and when you ask.

A couple of years ago, we participated in a bid for a project to install our Reservations system for a prospective customer, an airline in the Caribbean. After extensive due diligence of all proposed solutions, an independent consultant hired by this prospect, recommended our solution, the AirKiosk system.

As the last step in their selection process, the airline requested an opinion from IATA, an “Industry body, “ about our solution. An IATA employee sent us a message asking if our solution is Ticketless.  My response was that we maintain electronic records of our tickets, which is necessary for revenue accounting, therefore our solution can be described as E-Ticketing. I also added that, as we do not print the Tickets on official IATA tickets paper stock, our solution is Ticketless too. The airline’s consultant produced another document outlining the reconciliation process of our system, using E-Ticketing records, and sent this document to IATA and the airline.

Unfortunately for us, we were already labeled as Ticketless, which at that time was a “dirty word,” so the airline went with a solution recommended by IATA, which by the way, was not any of the 7-8 solutions officially participating in the bidding process. (Talk about the neutrality of an Industry body…but this is for a different story all together.)

Nothing further from our end helped, not detailed, acronym-rich diagrams detailing our E-ticketing capability nor our reference to one of the most successful new carriers in the UK, Jet2, which we helped build from scratch to its size of 6 million, were enough to change the mind of the frightened airline.

A year has passed since this project and we have successfully implemented Edifact E-Ticketing links with Worldspan and Amadeus. So in all of my naivety, I thought that we finally earned the official E-Ticketing label and that was a “good thing.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise to me that I was wrong again. There is still too much money invested in systems which cannot support IATA E-Ticketing. The main Industry players, the GDS companies, completed their developments of Ticketless solutions and the major supplier of the solution for the largest LCC carriers still has not implemented IATA E-Ticketing capabilities. So now, Ticketless is the “good thing.”

And of course, what is good for GDSs, is good for IATA, so IATA will also need to change their treatment of Ticketless systems.

Understanding the definition pitfalls.

I have seen descriptions of Ticketless solutions as “PNR-oriented”. This is hardly the description of a system, and is especially strange when promoted as some kind of advantage for LCC companies.

All complete Reservations systems must have both PNRs and ticketing. PNRs are used to store Reservations records, whereas a single PNR can hold Reservations records for multiple passengers. The tickets, on the other hand, are always passenger–unique. Without Ticketing, it is difficult to imagine Revenue Accounting.

So, if ticketing is a must, why not immediately select a system with E-Ticketing. This functionality will allow an airline to enter Industry networking, when the time is ripe, without the nightmare of the belated development projects.

A different question is which parts of E-Ticketing an airline will turn on, should it decide to go ahead with Interlining, but hold off the GDS Travel Agency sales.

Most LCC companies will tell you that they do not have a desire to go in the GDS direction. However, linking with one or more partner airlines, may be a different question.

So in this respect, the solution with Industry defined E-Ticket connectivity should be a big advantage for every business model.

The challenge is just to find a solution that it is not overpriced, and is from a company which will provide you with the skills to assist in the completion of each link project, without charging you for the consultancy and implementation effort.

If one knows what to look for, there is a good chance in finding the right answer.

Does the “Name” matter?

Definitely, yes.

However, this should be part of the overall evaluation criteria, perhaps as the final step.

Some larger system vendors chose to enter the Reservations marketplace as a defensive step, and are really not familiar with the application itself, nor will they support the systems they market. An example is the highly publicized case of WestJet, and their losses a couple of years ago.

I also do not understand the latest trend and rational of some GDSs to carve out a new product labeled as a Ticketless solution for LCC companies.

As far as I can see, the main characteristic of the Ticketless solutions is a lack of support of Industry standards for connectivity to GDSs.

So it seems to me quite contradictory that we have the GDS companies promoting Ticketless solutions as somehow being advantageous for LCCs?

The only reason, I would think, a company which already offers Reservations solutions for the large airlines, would decide to start a “stripped down” version of its system, is to come up with a justification to offer an alternative below the costs they charge their largest customers.

If this is not the case, then why don’t they give the same connectivity options to all of their customers, and let each decide whether to use them or not?

I would also be very careful going to the other extreme. Beware of the “nephew” who offers to build a Reservations system in a few weekends, and of companies with a solution which can be “quickly adapted” to provide the highest level Industry connectivity.

If a solution sounds impossible, it usually is.

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Download PDF version: E-Ticketing and Ticketless

For more information about the AirKiosk solution for airline reservations and distribution management, please contact us.

Aerocontractors Ready With IATA E-Ticketing, Interactive GDS Participation

March 16, 2008

Home page of the
Aerocontractors of Nigeria
website powered by AirKiosk systems.

AirKiosk system implementation of Amadeus Active Sell Completes Airline’s IET Capability

An AirKiosk system link to Amadeus Active Sell (AAS) has been completed for Aerocontractors, Nigeria’s premier regional airline. AAS is the highest level of Amadeus GDS participation, allowing Amadeus Travel Agents to query availability and book flights managed in the AirKiosk reservations system in realtime. The Amadeus connection follows completion in 2007 of a link between Aerocontractors’ AirKiosk system and the Worldspan IET Interchange solution. Together, the developments allow Aerocontractors to continue interline sales with its major partners and sell to travel agencies using the IATA BSP, in line with the IATA mandate for 100% electronic ticketing by June 1, 2008.

“This is a major milestone, both for Aerocontractors’ interline partnerships and expansion of GDS sales,” said Mark Snoxell, Aerocontractors Business Development Director. “The AirKiosk system team’s expertise and work with our other partners was a key to getting this accomplished ahead of deadline.”

The AirKiosk system has provided electronic ticketing since 2002. When the IATA BSP service is used by airlines for ticket issue and settlement, exchanging this electronic information requires realtime connections with each of the airline and GDS systems involved, based on Type A Host-to-Host protocols and EDIFACT message structures.

Aerocontractors’ Worldspan IET Interchange project was started in June 2007 with the help of KLM, a major Aerocontractor interline partner. In order to activate the Worldspan link with KLM, Aerocontractors also needed to increase its participation level in Amadeus, which provides inventory and reservations management for KLM.

“We are now looking forward to activating interline agreements based on IATA e-ticketing with our partners Air France and British Airways,” Snoxell said.

About Aerocontractors

Aerocontractors is Nigeria’s leading airline, flying regionally and connecting international passengers through interline agreements with KLM, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic. Founded in 1959 to serve the oil and gas industries, Aerocontractors began scheduled operations for the public in 2002, implementing the AirKiosk system. Aerocontractors was the first airline in West Africa to offer booking through the Internet. Aerocontractors is one of only two airlines recommended by the U.S. and British governments for air travel in Nigeria based on its high safety standards and reliability. Aerocontractors is owned by Nigerian investors and CHC Helicopter Corporation of Canada.

Online booking of Aerocontractors flights is available on their website www.flyaero.com.

About the AirKiosk System

The AirKiosk system is an integrated travel inventory, reservations, passenger and revenue management solution which allows for both direct sales and distribution through indirect channels, such as GDS companies using industry connectivity standards and the online travel trade, using XML links. Developed and owned by Sutra, Inc. based in Massachusetts, the AirKiosk system has been in use by airlines around the world since 1999.

About IATA E-Ticketing

In 2004 IATA imposed a deadline of December, 31 2007 for 100% use of IATA-standard electronic tickets within the IATA BSP, a payment settlement service used by 60,000 travel agencies outside of the United States.

However, the IATA e-ticket standards were not complete at the time, and only the largest airlines allied with the four large GDS companies, Amadeus, Sabre, Galileo and Worldspan, were able to confirm implementation of some kind of IATA e-ticketing support by that deadline. The cost of the projects to reach compliance were estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, compliance mandated participating in GDS companies at the highest levels requiring additional projects, subject to long, advance GDS scheduling times, for many airlines. Under pressure from member airlines IATA extended the deadline to May 31, 2008.

About GDS Distribution Options

Flights available to travel agencies using the GDS intermediary systems are based on links between the airlines’ inventory management systems and the GDS reservations networks.

There are different types of links, with varying functionality, defined by participation agreements between each airline and GDS company. The major concerns for airlines using the GDS networks are the high costs involved and the timely receipt of payments from agencies selling their tickets. Key options for airlines considering GDS use are:

- Link Level. IATA AIRIMP messages over Type B transmission, which is not a real-time link, but relies on the exchange of inter-system messages for accurate flight availability. Or, EDIFACT messages over Type A transmission, which is a realtime link ensuring accurate availability displays.

- Ticket Issue/Settlement. Ticket issue through the GDS system, in which payment is taken by the agency and must be later collected by the airline, through a service such as IATA BSP. Or, “Guaranteed Sell,” in which tickets are issued by the airline’s own system upon direct payment to the airline by credit or debit card.

For more information about the AirKiosk solution for airline reservations and distribution management, please contact us.

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Sources:

MAT Macedonian Modernizes with AirKiosk System

November 5, 2007

Home page of the new
MAT Macedonian Airlines
website powered by AirKiosk systems.

NATIONAL CARRIER LAUNCHES INTERNET RESERVATIONS

MAT Macedonian Airlines joins the world of travel e-commerce today with the introduction of direct online reservations. The AirKiosk Web Booking solution for MAT Macedonian Airlines features the popular AirKiosk Low Fare Finder, an instant calendar-based view of realtime fares availability. MAT Macedonian Airlines customers can now book and pay for their selected flights, change their bookings, and view and print their travel details through the airline’s website.

Like most national carriers, MAT Macedonian Airlines established and grew its business using legacy systems and GDS travel agency distribution. But with increasing demand from customers who want to book and manage their own travel, the airline needed a modern solution for direct sales and self-service.

“Europe is getting smaller, and airlines in regions traditionally denied access to modern reservations solutions are finding it more difficult to compete for travelers who prefer shopping and buying tickets online. MAT Macedonian Airlines’ management recognized there are dramatic savings in direct selling, savings they can pass on to their customers,” said Novak Niketic, president of AirKiosk System provider Sutra, Inc. “Going the route of GDS-based travel sites such as Opodo, Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia, was too expensive, cumbersome and did not offer the same service levels MAT Macedonian Airlines can provide directly to their valued frequent passengers.”

MAT Macedonian Airlines’ AirKiosk system-powered website is the first implementation of a new AirKiosk ASP service option which allows airlines to introduce Internet sales quickly and with minimum effort while still hosting on a legacy system platform. Flights from Skopje and Ohrid to Istanbul and Vienna are currently offered on the airline’s website.

“This is a great first step for a carrier unable to migrate in one step to a modern system,” Niketic said.

The AirKiosk system has provided airlines with an ahead-of-the-art reservations, distribution, revenue and passenger management solution at low cost since 1999.

MAT Macedonian Airlines is the national flag carrier of the Republic of Macedonia, operating 25,000 flights for more than 3.5 million passengers since its establishment.

Sources:

AirXML Service Expands

August 12, 2007

A sample of AirXML service links: 

  • Advanced Travel Partner
  • Anite
  • Mytravel.com
  • CSI Media
  • Cendent
  • Clickwith
  • Direct Travel
  • Fleetway Travel
  • Flightline
  • Jetset
  • Just The Flight
  • OnHoliday Group
  • Sunterra
  • Thomas Cook
  • Telme
  • Travelink
  • Wayfarers
  • New Travel Distribution Thrives on Direct Access to Schedules and Fares, Now in Bulk and Realtime

    The AirXML Service for the realtime distribution of flights through modern sales channels — including corporate, agency and special-interest group websites — now allows the bulk download of schedule and fares.

    The new AirXML API transaction allows travel package and fare consolidator websites to instantly build a local cache, on a daily basis, of an airline’s complete schedule and fares, replacing the “screen scraping” method to capture airline availability information. This (often prohibited) technique can take days for a simple snapshot of a single airline’s schedule and fares, only to result in the display of outdated information to travel shoppers.

    The AirXML Service is a B2B link originally developed to support the following business objectives: 

  • seamless integration of data from a variety of airlines in a single front-end interface for a distinct user group, including corporate travel desks and travel agencies.
  • development of applications targeting specific travelers or offering unique functions, such as integration with maps, offering a new generation of graphical user interfaces.
  • additional revenue opportunity for websites serving specific visitor interests, such as sites promoting unique regions or tourism categories (nature lovers, skiers, students, et cetera).

  • Packaged holiday deals offered on the jet2holidays.com site, powered by AirXML API and service.

    But a growing number of companies specialized in dynamic packaging of holidays and tours also require accurate airfare information. Dynamic packaging requires instant access to a large range of fares and flight information over an extensive period of time, which is poorly served by the rough screen scraping technique. The combination of the AirXML Service bulk schedule and fares download, with AirXML API realtime fares display and booking transactions, significantly enhances packaged travel sales and customer service.

    Air travel booking for the holiday package site jet2holidays.com, which has reported record sales this summer ( Jet2.com announces record bookings) is provided through the AirXML Service.

    In addition, public “Fare Consolidator” sites, which hope to serve visitors with useful airfare comparisons over a large range of airlines and dates, know that gathering this information through screen scraping is increasingly ineffective. The new AirXML API bulk download transaction provides an accurate daily snapshot of airline-supplied fares.

    The AirXML Service has become a major factor in travel distribution since its launch in September 2006, connecting dozens of travel agency, corporate and special-interest websites with realtime fares display and booking of airlines using the AirKiosk Internet Reservations System. Individual AirKiosk system airlines may sponsor private links, offering special fares or promotions to their customers registered through the AirXML Service.

    The AirXML Service is available to bona fide websites interested in promoting the flights offered by AirKiosk system airlines. For more information and to obtain the required access information and codes, please contact any AirKiosk system airline or contact Sutra, Inc. directly.

    Sources: Sutra, Inc.

    Avoid “Big Name” Vendor Nightmares

    May 11, 2007

    UPDATED

    “We have written off $9 million spent on a new reservations system that may never see the light of day.” 

    - Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey
    “Without Reservations”
    Air Transport World, April 2007

    IF LOW COST AIRLINES LOSE MILLIONS ON A RESERVATIONS SYSTEM, IS IT NEWS?

    Last January Canada’s premier low cost carrier, WestJet, warned shareholders it may write down $30 million invested in a new reservations system purchased from a major airline IT vendor. Because after years of development, the system still cannot be used by Westjet.

    In April, Air Transport World magazine reported “the troubles were not over” for the new system. The CEO of another early customer, Virgin Blue, told a press conference “we have written off $9 million spent on a new reservations system that may never see the light of day.”

    While the system’s problems have slowly become industry news, we could not find this acknowledged on the websites of either the big name IT vendor or its India-based software development partner. Promotion of the new system citing Westjet as the “launch customer” continues.

    Are airline losses of millions of dollars because of an IT vendor news? Novak Niketic says this is not only big news, it is a critical lesson for all airlines.

    Why was WestJet planning a change in reservations systems in the first place?

    WestJet was looking for a new system in 2003 because it wanted functions its current software, Open Skies, didn’t provide: a website which can display multiple fares, process online changes and sell optional services, and the support of interlining. WestJet, like several other airlines we spoke to that year, was also concerned that Navitaire had turned its development focus from the Open Skies platform to building a Microsoft-based system.

    With that concern, WestJet decided to become a customer for “a new product that hasn’t been used by an airline before,” as a WestJet spokesman told the Dow Jones news service. Our guess is WestJet made this decision in part because a big name in the industry is backing the Indian developer.

    But the system hasn’t been delivered as agreed?

    Apparently not. That’s why WestJet suspended the contract and issued its warning of a potential $30 million loss to shareholders.

    This isn’t just big news, we think all airlines can learn some critical lessons from it.

    What will WestJet do?

    WestJet has extended its agreement to use the Open Skies system with the promise Open Skies will be upgraded to allow for interlining, multiple fare displays and online changes. WestJet told the Dow Jones news service it has no specific date for these upgrades, but they would be “functional well before [the big name vendor's system] would have been up and running.”

    That begs a question. Your AirKiosk system has provided all of these functions since the time WestJet was looking for a replacement. Why didn’t WestJet choose the AirKiosk system?

    When we spoke to the WestJet team they were intent on owning and maintaining their reservations software at the source-code level. That was a mistake many legacy airlines made, and have spent years reversing. We told the WestJet team this and it was probably not what they wanted to hear in 2003.

    But we also don’t think that completely answers the question. Why would an airline turn away from a proven, low-cost solution in order to invest years and millions in something that didn’t exist?

    We see every day that airline management continues to be vulnerable to the old school IT mentality that “more expensive must be better.” This plays to the “strengths” of traditional suppliers, they are very expensive.

    Even when they don’t deliver…?

    We see many big name vendors announce “new systems.” Although we think they are taking tremendous risks with their reputations, we guess they have to.

    Traditional suppliers have been hard hit by the rise of low cost carriers and, worse, the desire of traditional carriers to adopt LCC innovations. These suppliers struggle to keep up with the functionality needed for the modern airline model, and they can’t match the cost structure of solutions like the AirKiosk system, which was built for this model.

    We see these suppliers buying as much time as they can to try to realign all airlines with a high-cost, complex way of doing business.

    What they have on their side are such large marketing and legal budgets that they can dominate every forum and industry organization. Only time will tell if any vendor can afford the remarkable arrogance of selling solutions which do not work at the expense of airline shareholders.

    What do airlines do to avoid being raked over the coals?

  • Reexamine your IT decision-making process and decision makers.
  • Examine every solution offered, even when offered by a big name vendor, as though it doesn’t exist.
  • Do not believe “more expensive must be better.” The last 20 years of technology history assure you it isn’t.
  • Keep in mind the sponsorship behind industry conferences.
  • Be very careful when evaluating any solution from a vendor also in the legacy GDS business.Turning your airline IT over to a GDS is like trusting Dracula to run the blood bank.
    Sources: 

  • Blue Islands Ups The Ante

    December 15, 2006

    “Fighting long-standing, state-owned airlines is not an experience reserved only for low-fare carriers.” 

    Regional Airline World
    November 2006

    AirKiosk System Helps Independent Provide
    Better Service at Lower Cost

    Blue Islands is beating the odds against a tax-payer funded competitor, Aurigny Air Services, as featured in Regional Airline World magazine.

    Blue Islands’ parent Healthspan Limited began its innovative campaign with a migration to the AirKiosk solution in April 2006. This ensured Blue Islands’ inventory, reservations and revenue management system could support the launch of new destinations, larger aircraft (Jetstream 32), and passenger self-service features such as online booking change, which Blue Islands provides free of fees.

    A key element of Blue Islands’ strategy is its “Business Advantage” program, enabled by the AirKiosk system’s functions for private web booking pages and microsites. “Business Advantage” allows loyal Blue Islands’ corporate customers to book negotiated fares directly through its website. In addition, Blue Islands has opened free lounges for its passengers.

    “Despite all these benefits,” writes Regional Airline World, Blue Islands’ fares are still lower than Aurigny’s.

    The AirKiosk system has provided airlines with an ahead-of-the-art inventory, reservations and revenue management solution at low cost since 1999.

    Blue Islands, formerly Rockhopper, has served the Channel Islands in competition with Guernsey-owned Aurigny Air Services since 1999.

    Sources:
    Regional Airline World
    Sutra, Inc.