Information Technology in the Airline Industry

Written by erik arvidson
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Information Technology in the Airline Industry
The U.S. airline industry has struggled to modernise its information technology resources. (commercial airliner image by itsallgood from

While the U.S. airline industry was an early pioneer of information technology, it has struggled in the early 21st century to upgrade its antiquated technology systems to be more customer friendly, according to analyst firm Forrester Research. As of 2010, many of the major airlines were still using computer systems that were introduced in the 1960s.

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In the 1960s, the U.S. airline industry created computerised systems for making airline reservations. This technology was developed to meet the needs of airline employees instead of customers. According to the "New York Times," financial difficulties have prevented the airlines from upgrading to the newest, most modern technologies available.


One of the airline industry's most significant IT innovations was the introduction of electronic tickets, replacing the paper tickets with magnetic strips. This saved airlines about £1.9 billion per year, according to the International Air Transport Association.


When Delta acquired Northwest Airlines in 2008, it took about two years to merge the two airlines' reservation and technology systems, which involved some 1,200 computer applications.


According to SITA, an airline industry analyst firm, the airlines spent just 1.7 per cent of their total revenue on information technology, compared to typical expenditures of between 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent by other industries.

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