Etihad Airways’ ‘Big Switch’ to its new Sabre Airline Solutions ‘SabreSonic’ Customer Sales and Service (CSS) system has been successfully completed with minimal operational disruption across the airline’s global flight network during the cutover period.
The Big Switch started at 11pm (UAE time) on Friday 22 February and the main cutover was completed for start of business (UAE time) on Sunday 24 February, with the SabreSonic CSS fully implemented and all sales channels, web and check-in systems back online by mid-afternoon.
The first passenger checked-in using the new system at 7pm on Saturday 23 February for flight EY 221 Abu Dhabi to Karachi. At the same time, the first sale made through SabreSonic CSS at the Abu Dhabi Contact Centre was a Pearl Business Class ticket to Manila.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The cutover to the new SabreSonic Customer Sales and Service system has been an outstanding operation involving thousands of Etihad Airways’ staff and months of hard work.
“To have achieved a cutover of this magnitude with such minimal disruption to our operations and customers is testament to the excellent teamwork between Etihad Airways and Sabre Airline Solutions.
“We now have a passenger services system that is world class, and the ten year deal with Sabre means that we can continue to enhance and improve it year on year, which will ensure we’re always ahead of the game.”
Sam Gilliland, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sabre Holdings, said: “Over the past few days, teams from Etihad Airways and Sabre have worked diligently on the successful migration onto our SabreSonic Customer Sales and Service system. The success of the migration is directly related to the outstanding project management by Etihad Airways and Sabre.
“We are confident that SabreSonic will deliver outstanding value to Etihad Airways through increased revenues, the ability to personalise the travel experience to their customers and improved operational efficiency. We welcome Etihad Airways to our community.”
The mammoth cutover operation involved hundreds of members of Etihad Airways’ staff who initially implemented, tested and configured the new software. They then worked on transferring all existing 530,000 bookings into the new system and restructuring the airline’s website.
The SabreSonic CSS cutover team reworked the business processes, rewired all of the links into the airline’s operation and back office systems, and transferred all of the network connections, before doing a final check to ensure the system was ready to go live.
SabreSonic CSS is state-of-the art in every way and transforms Etihad Airways’ reservations, inventory, eCommerce, distribution, and departure control activities, as well as providing customers with significantly enhanced mobile and communications access.
The transformation, involving the training of more than 6,700 Etihad Airways and third party staff, is the most challenging IT and business-critical initiative Etihad Airways has ever undertaken and is at the centre of a US$ 1 billion technology agreement with Sabre Airline Solutions.
The new SabreSonic CSS enables customers to take greater control of their journey and have more choice about how they interact with the airline. Customers can also complete transactions, such as purchasing upgrades at check-in, more easily than ever before.
In addition to Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub, 23 other airports around the world cutover to the SabreSonic CSS platform during the weekend with the implementation in the remaining destinations set to continue until the end of March.
Etihad Airways’ cutover took place a month after its equity partner Virgin Australia made its own Big Switch to SabreSonic CSS. airberlin, another member of the Etihad Airways equity alliance, also uses a wide selection of Sabre products.
Mr Hogan added: “The bonds between Etihad Airways’ alliance airlines continue to strengthen and it is extremely beneficial that Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways both now have the Sabre CSS system and others also use Sabre products. It is a further example of the synergies that tie Etihad Airways and our equity partners together.”