PARIS, FRANCE - TOMORROW marks the end of an era in travel, as it will be the last chance to buy traditional paper airline tickets for almost all the world's airlines.
On Sunday, the 240 carriers belonging to the world association Iata are switching to all electronic ticketing, much of it through Internet booking.
International Air Transport Association members account for 94 per cent of world airline traffic and by the end of February, 94 per cent of them had already abandoned the rectangle of stiff paper in favour of digital technology.
In Africa, 87 per cent of Iata airlines had made the switch.
And with the very last paper tickets being sold tomorrow, Iata estimates that the move to e-tickets will save airlines US$3 billion (S$4 billion) a year, a much needed economy in the face of a huge rise in fuel costs.
'From June 1, no travel agent will be able to issue a paper ticket,' an Iata spokesman said.
Paper tickets issued before the deadline will still be valid for the travel dates indicated on them.
The issue and handling of a paper ticket cost an airline US$10, with its electronic replacement costing an average of just US$1.
Iata also calculates that the end of the paper ticket will save 50,000 trees per year.
The association's vision of a paperless world was first announced four years ago and an initial deadline was set for the end of last year.
That cut-off point was later extended, as some airlines needed more time to comply. --AFP