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End of the runway for paper plane tickets

Global airlines body the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said it has placed its last order for paper tickets, clearing the way for air travel to be based entirely on electronic ticketing from 1 June, 2008.

Giovanni Bisignani, director general of Iata, said: "In just 278 more days, the paper ticket will become a collector's item."

The changeover from paper would not only cut airlines' costs by $9 for every traveller but would also mean the industry - criticised by environmentalists for its part in global warming - would save 50,000 mature trees per year, he said.

Bisignani did not say whether the $9 in cost savings would or should be passed on to passengers.

Based in Geneva, Iata represents more than 240 airlines that operate 94 per cent of scheduled international flights.

Non-Iata airlines, mainly low-cost carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair, already have a paper-free ticket system where travellers are registered in computers and present only an identity document at check-in.

Iata launched its drive for so called 'e-ticketing' just over three years ago and now 84 per cent of travellers on Iata carriers fly without paper tickets.

The airlines body says China, one of the fastest-growing markets for air travel and host to next year's Olympic Games, is heading to be the first country in the world to operate an entirely paper-free ticketing system by the end of this year.



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