Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Air India opts for a single code (AI) to optimize passenger delight

Passengers on the Air India network will no longer have to travel on separate tickets for domestic and international flights, following the successful trials of the new single ticket reservation system, popularly understood as a single code service - the AI code.

The shift would hasten Air India’s entry into Star Alliance, the world’s largest integrated air transport network. This would ensure a number of additional facilities which would make the passenger’s journey enjoyable and hassle-free, said Mr Arvind Jadhav, Chairman & Managing Director, while indicating that the single code, AI, would be formally launched sometime around mid-February.

The migration to the new industry standard Passenger Service System (PSS) has many advantages. These include all services being extended by a single service provider; automate baggage reconciliation; enabling kiosk check-in across the network; and also mobile check-ins. It would also help to speed up the integration of the merged Indian Airlines and Air-India.

Saying that the new system is being implemented by SITA, the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology (IT) solutions, an Air India spokesperson said that SITA was selected following a worldwide tendering process. Once the single code becomes fully operational, Air India passengers would no longer have separate codes for domestic and international travel. Passengers from Aizwal to Toronto via any other destination/s would have a single ticket and therefore seamless travel.

This single code functioning is a key condition to join Star Alliance, in which member-airlines share each other's code, allowing passengers to travel with multiple airlines on the same ticket.

Implemented in a record time of 300 days, the new system involved migration from two different systems to a third system even as it was in compliance with Star Alliance requirements. The first major dry run of the new system was undertaken on January 15 and the final migration to the new system is scheduled to take place around mid-February.

The new system is expected to aid Air-India’s turnaround as joining the Star Alliance, which has 26 carriers as members, will make AI part of a network that operates around 19,500 flights every day from as many as 1,071 airports in 171 countries. In fact, Malaysian Airlines, which recently migrated to the network, says that such membership was a key enabler in its turnaround.

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