Airlines must maximise IT advantages to avoid their Waterloo, says IATA chief

The airline industry may meet its Waterloo unless it takes full advantage of IT to it to help it weather the storm created by spiralling oil prices.

The airline industry may meet its Waterloo unless it takes full advantage of IT to it to help it weather the storm created by spiralling oil prices.

Giovanni Bisignani, the outspoken head of airline industry organisation IATA, gave the warning at this week's annual SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Belgium

"At the end of May we were celebrating as we had introduced e-ticketing across 100% of airlines, to deliver annual savings to the industry of £1.5bn.

"But within days we saw those savings wiped out with the oil price approaching £67 a barrel, after we were previously panicking over the price reaching £40 a barrel," he said.

Bisignani said IATA had seen 24 airlines go bust in the past six months, and he expected many more to follow suit if they did not cut their cloth accordingly.

He said IT was a major area for them to focus on. "We now have a perfect storm and IT has an important role in tackling it.

"As an industry we spend £5bn a year on IT, and we now have to do more with less."

To cut costs, Bisignani said airlines now had to expand self-service check-in, introduce self-tagging on bag drops and consider self-help kiosks to allow passengers to process lost or damaged bag claims.

In addition, he said, they had to take another look at the efficiency of their back-office functions and make sure their ERP systems were optimised for the challenges ahead.

They also had to introduce server virtualisation in their datacentres to help reduce power and cooling costs.

IT efficiency would be the difference between an airline folding or continuing to fly, he said.




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