Some traditions die hard, but not this one. If the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has its way, airlines will issue only electronic tickets by the end of 2007, sending paper tickets into oblivion.
The migration to electronic ticketing, which could save millions of dollars, has been underway for more than 10 years. Budget airlines or the no frills airlines use electronic ticketing and they provide no free meals, passing the cost benefit to the passenger.
IATA, which supplies paper tickets to most airlines outside the United States, wants to discontinue that service at the end of this year. Airlines that want to maintain paper ticketing beyond 2007 can do so on their own but is likely to increase the cost.
The IATA estimates the potential savings associated with electronic ticketing at $3 billion a year globally. On average, an airline spends $10 to process a paper ticket compared with $1 to process an electronic ticket. Electronic tickets also encourage self check-in, which saves airlines money.