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As Deadline for E-Ticketing Nears

May 26, 2008, 5:45 AM | Article By: By: Baboucarr Senghore

GCAA Reassures General Public

Barely a week before the deadline set by International Air Transport Association (IATA) for all certified air travel agencies to introduce Electronic Ticketing (E-Ticketing), Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has assured the general public that there is no cause for alarm.

Electronic Ticketing, a system recommended by IATA, is believed to be one of the most significant opportunities to reduce cost and improve passenger convenience. It reduces ticket processing charges, eliminates the need for paper and allows greater flexibility to passengers and travel agencies to make changes to itineraries.

According to recent reports, air travel from The Gambia would soon be at the mercy of current regulation as the IATA deadline for countries to introduce electronic ticketing was set to mature on May 31st.

In this interview with The Point, Mr. Fansu Bojang, Director General of Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, said that air travel to and from The Gambia would and could not be interrupted as was reported since most airlines and travel agencies have already complied with the IATA decision.

"There are quite a few who are still not compliant but this is in the interest of their own convenience, cost reduction and affordable service to their own customers", he clarified.

According to the GCAA boss, with effect from June 1st 2008, all IATA-certified travel agencies working with airlines supporting electronic ticketing functions in all countries that are on the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) would no longer be able to issue automated tickets. "In countries with BSP," he went on, "most airlines have chosen to allow travel agents to issue e-ticketing using the Amadeus system to use the Amadeus e-ticket direct product".

According to Mr. Bojang, the Amadeus Electronic Ticketing Direct represents the only one way for airlines and travel agencies to issue Electronic Tickets in those countries.

"However, due to high demand of this product, Amadeus has been unable to be implemented at most of the countries some of which are in the region [including] Angola, Burundi, The Gambia, Guinea, Rwanda and Sierra-Leone. It is hoped that within the next few months, this product will be fully implemented in The Gambia," he affirmed.

GCAA boss added that until this product is implemented for travel agencies who can use the Amadeus system in The Gambia, airlines would either continue providing concerned travel agencies with their own manual paper ticket stock until they have been implemented or could issue the e-tickets on their behalf.

"As of now, Brussels Airlines is the only airline that is issuing e-Tickets in The Gambia. Air Senegal International, Bellview Airline and Slok Airline Gambia Limited are all working very hard on the final stages of the implementation process", Mr. Bojang revealed.

Mr. Abdoulie E. Jammeh, Deputy Director General, Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, underlined GCAA's dissociation from the opinion that air travel from the Gambia would become extremely difficult. "There are processes, deadlines are set. But there are logistical implications for all those things. It has to take its full course for implementation to be complete," Mr Jammeh elucidated.