Ryanair systems upgrade will halt bookings

Low cost airline Ryanair is closing its reservations website and customer call centre for three days later this month while it replaces its flight booking system.

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Low cost airline Ryanair is closing its reservations website and customer call centre for three days later this month while it replaces its flight booking system.

The airline's website notes: “From 22:00hrs on the 22 February until 23:00hrs on the 25 February 2008 the Ryanair internet and call centre booking system will be down because of the changeover to a new flight booking system.” During the affected days web and phone customers will not be able to make, check or change bookings, and will not be able to check in online.

Ryanair declined to comment on what systems changes it would make, but the overhaul looks to be intended to improve the company’s booking process and meet its regulatory obligations. According to reports, it is moving from the Open Skies system to New Skies, both from specialist airline software supplier Navitaire.

The new system promises to remove the need for e-tickets, and allows greater business intelligence reporting on ticket sales and changes. Ryanair should also be able to more quickly launch promotions and process web payments efficiently and cheaply.

But the carrier is also making the changes to comply with an order from the Office of Fair Trading to display full prices including tax and reservation charges, instead of advertised prices excluding these costs. Last year the OFT ordered 13 airlines, including Ryanair, to spell out their prices upfront online, instead of adding in mandatory costs such as taxes and booking fees when customers go to pay for their tickets.

Eleven of the airlines changed their websites by July last year, according to the OFT, but Ryanair and Aer Lingus said technical issues prevented them from changing their booking process, and their deadlines were extended to the end of this year. Ryanair is the only airline that has not yet complied, and it has been forced to put a statement on its website until it changes its systems, detailing the extra costs passengers can expect to pay.

On the web a number of bloggers have expressed surprise at the length of time the reservations system will be offline. Alex Bainbridge, managing director at ecommerce consultancy Travel UCD wrote that three days was “rather a long time” for Ryanair’s website to be closed.

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