Aerocontractors Ready With IATA E-Ticketing, Interactive GDS Participation

March 16, 2008

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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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