So far, so good for Virgin's new IT system
VIRGIN AUSTRALIA'S switch to a new booking and check-in system resulted in longer queues for some flights at the weekend but the airline said that overall the change had run relatively smoothly.
The airline is still advising passengers to turn up for flights earlier than usual this week as staff use Sabre's global reservations system for the first time in real-time.
A Virgin spokeswoman, Emma Copeman, said passengers had experienced longer queues for some flights at airports such as in Los Angeles due to the switchover, but at other airports "we have had no queues". "In Sydney, Brisbane and Perth we have been seeing quicker check in ... because we have extra staff on. People are generally getting to the airport earlier," she said.
On Saturday, some passengers waited longer than usual at Melbourne Airport's international terminal. The airline said about 89 per cent of flights were on time on Saturday, while by the time of going to press the figure for on-time performance stood above 90 per cent for Sunday.
The transition to a new reservations and check-in system was seen as a big test for both the airline and Sabre. About half of Virgin's 8000-strong workforce have undergone training for the new system.
It had amassed a small army of computer experts and support staff at the weekend to cope with the change from the Navitaire system, typically used by budget airlines.
Virgin will book a one-off cost from implementing Sabre, which will be disclosed when it releases its half-year results next month. It has not revealed the continuing cost of the system, saying only that "there was no material difference" to using Navitaire.
Although the transition to the system had run smoothly by the time of going to press at the weekend, some industry insiders expect it to encounter some teething problems in the longer term.
Virgin has said that the new system will allow it to better link its services to alliance partners such as Etihad and Singapore Airlines, as well as making its flights more visible to travel agents. The change will also result in Virgin switching its flight code from DJ to VA.
Qantas also uses Sabre while its budget offshoot, Jetstar, runs on a Navitaire system.