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Thu 24 May 2007 02:57 PM

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Saudia to launch e-boarding

Saudi Arabian Airlines is to make electronic boarding passes available online.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is expanding its recently-launched electronic ticketing service within the Kingdom, company officials said this week.

The service allows passengers traveling through airports in Saudi Arabia to check in online.

Khaled Al-Mulhim, the airline's director general, said Saudia plans to start issuing e-boarding passes over the internet in mid-August.

The airline currently only offers the service through select travel agents within Saudi Arabia.

Saudia's Ahmed Al Ghambi said that the carrier was also looking to double the number of agents through which e-boarding passes can be purchased.

From around 50 travel agents presently, Al Ghambi said the airline hoped to increase this to 100 by the end of this year. The service was first introduced in March at 25 travel agents.

"This scheme gets rid of all the hassles passengers have when they go through airports," Al Ghambi added.

The electronic boarding pass scheme is supporting the e-ticketing service Saudia is currently rolling out, he said.

Saudia's move to e-ticketing is part of a mandate by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to have all of its 250 member airlines issuing tickets electronically by the end of the year.

Earlier this month Al Ghambi revealed that to meet IATA's December 31 deadline it could be forced to cancel lucrative interline agreements - deals between individual airlines to handle passengers that require multiple airlines to reach their destination.

Under IATA's e-ticketing directive, airlines must create interfaces between their different reservation systems before they can issue electronic tickets through interline agreements.

Al Ghambi said at the time that Saudia would only convert around 70 of its 200 paper interline agreements to electronic form by the deadline.

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