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Airlines go mobile to sell tickets

Last updated on: June 29, 2011 12:29 IST

Airlines go mobile to sell tickets

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Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai


A recent survey indicates that mobile phones are set to become a significant sales channel for airlines. According to transport communications and IT solution provider SITA's airline IT trends survey released last week, almost nine out of 10 airlines are selling or planning to sell tickets through the mobile phone network by 2014.

The survey says airlines plan to extend mobile distribution services to include ticket modification/upgrades and sales of onboard services.

Airlines are also looking to add new sales channels. Kiosks and social network sites are the most recent additions to a growing channel mix. The study revealed that 69 per cent of airlines also sell or plan to sell tickets via social media networks by 2014.

While mobile-phone ticketing option is not popular in India (less than one per cent of all tickets are booked using phones) the trend is fast catching up.

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Photographs: Reuters
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In May, low-cost carrier IndiGo upgraded its mobile phone booking solution enabling passengers to check in and get weather updates.

Last week Jet Airways tied up with ngpay, a mobile commerce service provider, enabling passengers to book or cancel tickets, get refunds for e-tickets and manage card payments.

''We are confident that the convenience and simplicity of this service will be appreciated by our guests,'' said Jet Airways chief commercial officer Sudheer Raghavan.

GoAir also plans to start its own mobile phone booking site. Besides, from offering convenience to passengers, mobile booking can allow airlines to control ticket distribution costs that can be as high as 10 per cent of all total expenses.

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Photographs: Reuters
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In India, most air tickets are sold either through online portals or travel agents. For Air India just about 10 per cent of all tickets is sold on its website.

Usually, 40-60 per cent of tickets of low-cost carriers in India are sold by online portals, said an airline executive.

"Either the airline can develop its own web application for mobile phones or tie up with a service provider,'' he added. Airlines do not incur transcation cost (except bank commission) when a ticket is booked on its own web platform. But mobile commerce service providers act as agents who get a fee for each booking.

An IndiGo executive said the airline had not publicised its mobile phone booking facility, but expects the better response.

A passenger can book a ticket on the move without having to dial a call centre. Less than 300 of the 30,000 plus IndiGo's daily bookings are made on mobile phones, he added. An IndiGo spokesperson refused to comment.


Photographs: Reuters
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