On 1 June 2008, the industry moved to 100% electronic ticketing and the paper ticket became a thing of the past. Apart from substantial cost savings for the industry of up to US$3bilion per year, ET is also more convenient for passengers who no longer have to worry about losing tickets and can make changes to itineraries more easily.
United Airlines was the first airline to issue electronic tickets, back in 1994. A decade later however, only 20% of all airline tickets were electronic. The industry was missing out on an opportunity to save costs and make travel for passengers easier. In June 2004, IATA set an industry target of 100% ET in four years. At the time, many believed this was an unrealistic goal. Evolving standards, uncertainty about the return on investment and skepticism about the customer acceptance of paper in parts of the world were some of the reasons why e-ticketing hadn’t taken off.
It took only four years to reach 100% ET. Together, IATA and airlines, travel agents, airports, system providers, and GDSs have moved an entire industry from the paper age into the full electronic era. Armed with a mandate from the IATA Board, StB was able to mobilise the industry. Through local engagement, the ET team was able to understand and meet the varying needs of airlines – from those who needed little help to those who hadn’t issued a single electronic ticket. And by engaging and understanding the needs of partners – from GDS’s to ground handlers – StB facilitated the adoption of ET across the industry.