The principal component of the Simplified Interline Settlement (SIS) vision is the removal of paper from the billing and settlement process. A carrier will submit a single electronic billing file that will be converted into an invoice and a settlement file, sent to the billed airline, and cleared through the relevant clearinghouse.
The vision and benefits below are subject to change based on cost and demand.
Integrated Settlement (IS)
The proposed solution will be tightly integrated into a single platform called Integrated Settlement (IS). Today’s separate systems - including ARC COMPASS®, IATA ICH, ATA ACH, NFP engines, and others - will be integrated with new systems to offer a single point of communication for the carrier.
Rather than requesting a value, receiving it, then creating and sending additional files, a carrier can optionally send a single file to IS which will then internally create and deliver all necessary files in a process known as Auto-Billing.
A major benefit is that the settlement file will be automatically created from the billing file - they will always reconcile perfectly. Today the billing and settlement files and invoices are often created in different systems and at different times, causing problems with reconciliation.
More Transmission Options
Today carriers must send coupon listings via IDEC and enter settlement files manually, or submit them in the F12 format. In the future, additional formats will be offered based on the requirements set by the working groups. The three primary methods for uploading and downloading data will be IS-IDEC, IS-XML, and via IS-WEB (similar to ICH Web).
- IS-IDEC: Where possible, the new IDEC format will be compatible with the existing format. However, new records such as rejections and tax detail breakdowns for a prime billing will be added.
- IS-XML: Many IT departments are moving toward an XML-dominated environment. While not always appropriate for the needs of interline settlement, XML is compatible with many third-party applications (such as SAP) and is perpetually extensible. Additionally, XML offers the ability to easily encapsulate large amounts of data, such as digital signatures or supporting document images.
- IS-WEB: Not every carrier will be able to justify systems development for every record type that they may have to submit (e.g. mail interline charges). And some carriers may not have the capability to submit or receive IDEC or XML. As an alternative, carriers will have access to a web interface to manually enter records and upload supporting documents. Similarly, billed carriers will be able to use the web interface in order to view and print invoices and supporting documents.
The web interface will also offer reporting and analytics. Shortly after a carrier submits a file (IS-IDEC or IS-XML), an optional report will show the results of validation. The web interface will also offer an audit trail of rejections, showing each rejection including correspondence, the date entered, and any messages or supporting documents submitted.
View more information on the interface formats.
No need to reconcile
An inherent problem in today’s process is the difficulty that a billed carrier has in reconciling the data provided in the three different streams (billing file, settlement file, and paper invoice) by the billing carrier. With Integrated Settlement, only the billing data will be submitted. The internal IS processes will then create the invoice and settlement file from the billing data, ensuring that the billed carrier will not need to reconcile incoming data.
Paperless Invoices and Supporting Document Storage
With the new and enhanced transmission methods, every Passenger, Cargo, and Miscellaneous billing will be completely paperless, including rejections.
The Working Groups have defined the documents that will offer value in a structured “ e-electronic format”. The supporting documents for “ electronic presentation” will be uploaded as a standard image or PDF to a file repository. The repository will offer a central location for carriers to exchange and store supporting documents.
The central file repository will store documents for as long as they are needed for operational reasons. While the repository is not meant to be a legal archive, carriers will be able to request longer-term storage for a nominal fee.
One of the primary benefits of documents being stored long enough for operational purposes is that the rejecting carrier will not need to re-upload any received documents (as it would re-attach them today); since the new rejection memo will reference the old, the supporting documents are also referenced.
Different regulatory bodies have varying requirements for what invoices - both paper and electronic - must contain. For example, electronic invoices in the European Union must include a digital signature to ensure the contents have not been modified. In other areas, certain text (such as VAT notification) is required. While Integrated Settlement will be designed to comply with any applicable regulations, it will ultimately be the airlines' responsibility to ensure local compliance.
Reduced Rejection Timeframes
Without changing the amount of time for a carrier to evaluate a billing and prepare a rejection, the working groups have determined that the total necessary time can be reduced by several months. Today, a carrier may wait up to one month between receiving the electronic data files and the paper invoice and supporting documents. With SIS, the billed carrier will receive the supporting documents at the exact same time as the rest of the billing and settlement data.