Our Bureau

Chennai, Nov. 1

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has set up an innovation lab for travel and hospitality solutions at Karapakkam on Old Mahabalipuram Road, Chennai.

Mr Paul Coby, Chief Information Officer, British Airways, who inaugurated the lab, told reporters that in the downturn after 9/11, British Airways was able to reduce cost and simplify operations by implementing many technology solutions. British Airways spends £240 million annually on information technology, he said.

He said that the only way the legacy carriers could compete with the new low- cost carriers was by effectively using technology.

Talking of the e-ticketing initiative, Mr Coby said that 94 per cent of trade bookings on British Airways are e-tickets. In India, currently passengers can book their flights online; the online check-in facility is available only in Bangalore. He said that Indian passengers would soon be able to pay for their tickets online.

British Air call centre

British Airways operates 43 flights out of 5 gateway airports in India. The airline's call centre in India, which was established in 2003, will soon be handling calls from Dubai, he said. According to TCS officials, the company has invested anything between "half a million to one million dollars" to set up the lab.

Mr Ravi Viswanathan Vice-President and Head Chennai, TCS, said that the lab has developed technology, which would enable transfer of ticket information on to a bar code to a hand held device. The lab was also working on kiosks, which would be placed in airports, where passengers on the loyalty programmes can swipe their loyalty cards for the boarding pass. The authentication checks are through biometric tests, he said.

The lab is also designing solutions in e-services, revenue accounting, fare filing and distribution as well as targeted customer marketing.

The lab is building a range of `reusable assets and components' that help airlines retain their differentiators as well as achieve higher productivity and cost savings from technology investments.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 2, 2006)
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