EasyJet's Web site is robust and scalable enough to meet the ambitious target of selling nearly all its tickets online, the company's Web site manager insisted this week.
The low-cost airline last week announced plans to sell almost 100% of its tickets online by the end of next year. At the moment about 75% of easyJet's 5.5 million passengers book online, with the remainder of bookings handled by a call centre.
British Airways estimates that it sells 45% of its tickets via the Internet.
Simon Pritchard, Web technology manager for easyJet, said it designed the Web site to handle double the predicted sales volume.
He added that the site will not be brought down due to "one point of failure" in the system, because of the use of master-slave arrangements and load balancing in a server farm.
"It accepts that an individual component such as a Web server will go wrong but will not affect the overall system," he said. "The punters will not see that anything has gone wrong. We can replace a component within six hours without anyone noticing."
EasyJet also has a surplus of hardware to support the site so it can deal with sudden surges in demand. When it advertises special promotions in the national press online demand for tickets can treble, said Pritchard.
But despite the ambitious push for Web sales, easyJet's Web support team and IT department remain relatively slimline. Only a couple of staff are dedicated to maintaining the Web site in an IT department of 10. However, Pritchard stressed that the IT department is still expanding.
EasyJet opted for a Microsoft solution. The front-end servers are Microsoft's Internet Information Server. The back-end boxes are Microsoft NT running on a SQL server database and file server.
This was first published in October 2000