Air Serbia to undergo digital transformation


Air Serbia has said it plans to digitalise its operations in order to create new and modify existing business processes, culture, and customer experiences, the showpiece of which will be the rollout of its very own booking system. Speaking at the recent Uzakrota Online Travel Technology and Marketing Summit, Air Serbia’s General Manager for Commercial and Strategy, Jiri Marek, said, “We have started to develop our own booking system because all the airline systems are legacy-based so if you want to address the needs of the new modern generations, either you wait for those legacy systems to be ready or you use the opportunity and develop something from scratch and that is what we are currently doing”.

Commenting in more detail on the new reservation system, Mr Marek noted, “One of the first things we did when the pandemic started, and we were forced to ground the fleet, was to fasttrack all the things we were planning as our long-term goals in terms of digital transformation and distribution strategies. Within a few months we launched our first mobile app. Shortly, in December, we will launch a new version of it. Based on that, we also began our new project, using design synching, in order to develop the booking engine. The principle is very easy. You put yourself in the shoes of the customer and you do everything from the user experience point of view. You touch the main pain points, which are usually flight search, document verification and payment and you try to make them as simple as possible because simplification and innovation in this field is fundamental for the user experience which potentially leads to long-term loyalty”.

The airline did not specify when the new system would go live. In 2016, Air Serbia migrated from the Amadeus booking platform to the Sabre passenger reservation system to better align with its stakeholder Etihad Airways and equity partners Air Berlin and Alitalia. The move sent a shockwave through the Serbian travel industry, which largely had only worked on the Amadeus system at the time. Since then, the Etihad equity alliance has, for the most part, collapsed and earlier this year the Emirati carrier announced it would transition to the Amadeus passenger service system, while renewing a contract for a number of Sabre’s IT products.

During the first six months of 2021, 53% of Air Serbia’s total ticket sales were carried out directly by the airline, through its website, mobile application, contact centre and retail shops, up from 32% during the same period in 2019. Online sales channels contributed the most, taking up a 44% share of total sales, doubling compared to the same period in 2019, when it accounted for 21% of sales. Air Serbia’s Head of E-commerce, Srdjan Prokić, recently noted, “In order to offer our passengers the best possible travel experience at all times, we strived to constantly develop our platforms and adapt to the changes in customer habits resulting from the pandemic. We have introduced changes to our website, updated our mobile application regularly and worked on improving the online reservation system, thus creating a comprehensive and functional solution for passengers. We continue to work on new projects, and we are glad to make it easier to search and book flights and enable personalised offers for our users”.



Comments

  1. Anonymous09:03

    Interesting. I've never heard of an airline develop its own booking and reservation system. Not even the likes of Lufthansa. Anyone know any other airline that has done this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous14:50

      They could sell it to other airlines afterwards.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous09:04

    Smart

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous09:05

    They have developed their digital capabilities quite a bit. Just a couple of years ago they didn't even have online check-in.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous09:07

      +1

      Delete
    2. Anonymous09:08

      True. They were also one of the first airlines in the world to trial the IATA digital pass.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous09:08

      Although online checkin is pointless at the moment because you have to go to the counter to show your Covid related documents.

      Delete
    4. Nemjee09:38

      You don't, a family member flew to LCA a few days ago and documents were shown just ahead of the passport control. At least that's how it is with JU.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous09:47

      there is also a small booth before the check-in range of JU, there is n officer who just aske me m i vaccinated and which vaccine (my destination was in Germany so it mattered), but she did not check my documents I just had to show it to check in officer, and its the only person asking me to show my Corona related documents. However since Germany has entry requirements which are quite straightforward and most people are already familiar I think its lax on our side while on the German side you have a corona check prior to passport control who checkall doccuments and the passport control only checks your vaccination proof.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous13:32

      @ Nemjee09:38

      You can't check in online for many routes. When you try to, there is a warning that you have to proceed for check in and document check. In the line for check in there is a person at a desk checking all the documents and then if he/she approves you have everything you can continue to the checkin desk. But you still have to physically check in rather than online.

      Delete
    7. Nemjee17:42

      I suppose it depends where you are flying. For example if you are flying on TK to the US you can't check in online. For Greece and Cyprus you can without a problem and they check at the passport control, that is just before it. This inconsistency is why many are simply deciding not to travel. Too many unpredictable situations and regulation that changes all the time.

      Delete
  4. Anonymous09:06

    I've also never heard of an airline create its own reservation system. Good luck anyway.

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  5. Anonymous09:07

    This will save them a lot of money.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:33

      Highly likely. Reservation platforms are very expensive and you usually have to pay the company based on per sold ticket or per boarded passenger.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous09:09

    Nice work Air Serbia!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:33

      Unexpected and innovative. I agree.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous09:09

    And here I was hoping Covid would make them accelerate other more important issues lie fleet renewal.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:18

      Well they will make savings with this so maybe they save up for some newer planes ;)

      Delete
  8. Anonymous09:43

    They shall better commit themselves to fleet transformation. Their booking is already soo good so I was able to purchase a ticket on airserbia website even during a Zoom meeting, it was seamless. I know they plan to save money by doing in house booking but much bigger airlines arent doing so, and it certainly poses some risks. The only thing that I would like to see on the digital side that is missing is a boarding pass for Apple Wallet app.

    Technically, I would also like them to transform their downtown office in 17 Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra into a remote check in with baggage drop. This is what Etihad has been implementing in Abu Dhabi for some time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:10

      If I'm right, that was the case some 50 years ago there... Nowadays, I guess it's too small a facility for that. When a train line is built to Tesla AP, that might be a chance for a city terminal, like the one at Wien Mitte station in Vienna.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous11:19

      I agree about the remote check in. I don't think it would be so difficult for them to do.

      Delete
  9. Anonymous11:17

    I find this really odd for an airline. An inhouse reservation system??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:20

      Well they are doing it.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous13:42

      There are several other airlines that have their own but it is rare.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous11:45

    Hope it works out for them

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  11. Anonymous11:53

    Good progress

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous11:54

    hope everything goes smoothly

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous11:54

    This is a huge project! good luck to airserbia team!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous11:58

    And how about to start answering on emails. It is digital and could be a good ground for further transformation

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:42

      They need more manpower in their call centers and claims operations.

      Delete
  15. Anonymous11:58

    After the change, will the online check-in be available from every destination?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous12:21

    They just need to see website/mobile app of RYR,WZZ or EZY and make similar.You cant buy a ticket via ASL mobile app without transferring you to their website .I dont call that a mobile app.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:25

      Well he says they are releasing a new version this month so hopefully they deal with it.

      Delete
  17. I am shocked OU didn't come to this idea first. They are worldwide wellknown of being innovative, responding quickly to market demands and thinking out of the box LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:56

      Well they did redesign their site.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous13:40

      They bought some software from BCG. We will see if it yields any results. So far, not much.

      Delete
  18. Anonymous13:27

    If this booking system they are making is successful, they could easily export it and sell it to other airlines as well.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous13:34

    It sure is out of the box but I'm a bit surprised that others have not done this. Which makes me question the rationale of Air Serbia doing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:35

      Well American Airlines was the one that developed Sabre in the 1960s :)

      Delete
    2. Anonymous13:38

      AA later sold its rights to Sabre. But in 2014 Delta brought its reservation and booking system in-house. So it's not unheard off.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous13:40

      It's not unheard of but it is not common either.

      Delete
  20. Anonymous13:35

    What will they call the reservation system :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:37

      Knowing them, it will probably be something to do with Tesla lol.

      Delete
  21. Anonymous13:36

    Air Serbia should be more concerned about updating its ageing ATR fleet first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:41

      Here they are saving money. With ATRs they would be spending it ;)

      Delete
    2. Anonymous13:43

      Out of curiosity how much could the deal with Sabre have cost? I assume it was a five year deal which probably expires now.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous13:47

      No one can tell you that. Price is negotiated between vendor and airline.

      Delete
  22. Anonymous13:46

    The most ironic thing is that Air Serbia is the owner of Amadeus Serbia operations yet they don't use the system. They were forced to take Sabre because Etihad was invested into that platform several years ago and created a mess with tour operators who had to give big money to buy sabre system and train their workers who have been using Amadeus the entire time. Etihad did the same with Alitalia. Forced them to use Sabre. The second Etihad left Alitlia, the Italians went back to Amadeus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13:52

      This only makes this whole development of their own reservation system even more absurd. So now they will force us agents to use Air Serbia's system on top of Sabre which we had to spend money on and on top of Amadeus. Crazy.

      Delete
    2. Prepelica14:00

      There is something called interoperability between systems. This future technology called APIs, progressed quite a bit in the last 20 years.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous16:43

      Anonymous 13:52

      What do you mean they'll make you use their system?
      You can make a reservation in one system which is visible and available in the other one. We work in Sabre, but have bunch of Galileo and Amadeus bookings from Travel Agencies.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous00:58

      Sabre is truly a great system, but it has a lot of additional features that are purchasable as additional options. Air Serbia has almost none of them since they are quite expensive, but Etihad has nearly all of them available to use, I use them every day. Amadues has great features that already come as a base, thats why EY will be going back to it in 2023. Regarding the travel agencies, all of those bookings are visible in Sabre even though they are created in other GDS, so travel agents were not impacted at all. INI5IRZ;)

      Delete
  23. Anonymous13:58

    While their time table is falling apart, they are building their own booking system.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous15:27

    Their online platform is terrible and unfrienfly to use, has numerous misyakes and now comes the crown " their own reservation system". How do they anticipate to connect with other airlines and online booking systems?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nemjee17:45

      Generally many of the things this Marek guy speaks of are very bad at JU. Hopefully they have something new coming up in the future the same way they are replacing their relatively useless app. We used to have a corporate contract with them, it was so bad and inconvenient that in the end we just terminated it.

      Delete
  25. Anonymous15:29

    Air Serbia is in a deep mass concerning service and digitalization. I wonder if this will pay off at all.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anonymous20:13

    Srbija ima sjajne mlade IT strucnjake i to se treba iskoristiti naravno ovo je jedna od sansi da se zadrze neki od njih u Srbiji. Samo bih dodao jos bi mi draze bilo kad bi dodali neka nova trzista sa velikim brojem putnika kao sto je veliki znalac predlagao Aerologic(nadam se da jos komentarise moj prijatelj) . Naravno treba ocekivati neka iznenadjenja u narednom vremenu.
    INN-NS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous08:28

      Great way to keep them in Serbia?! LOOOOL
      IT industry is exploding here. Last year alone gaming industry reached a revenue of €120 million. IT guys don't need JU to stay here, they are doing very well for themselves. JU has a problem because of bad work climate no one wants to work there anymore. Check LinkedIn, their old employees, most stayed 2 to 3 years and then switched to a better job.

      Delete
  27. Anonymous00:40

    Reinventing the wheel.
    It's an airline company, not a software developing company. And a very specialized software.
    This is going to fail spectacularly.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous04:31

    with this mindset they will become dominating and most interesting airline in the region

    ReplyDelete
  29. Matt Shatt Tampa FL05:18

    Digital transformation is a misnomer. Booking systems have been digital since the sixties. What DT really means is replacing legacy IT with DevOps, Agile and cloud and building most things in house using methods like fail fast that appeal to executives. It works great for developing new smartphone apps but things can get messy if they go for the jugular of core IT like this brand new reservation system with complex interdependencies. Many airlines would have done it if it was that easy. It's not impossible but they will need a lot of experience and some luck along the way.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Anonymous12:57

    Complete madness! Own reservation system for such a small regional airline? JAT (Air Serbia) live their dreams from past and waisting time and money. Digital transformation is must but building own solution is playing.

    ReplyDelete

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