El Al Internet sales a blow to agents

El Al is on the verge of developing its Internet ticketing market and achieving a market share of 20 percent of all airline tickets, El Al CEO yesterday Haim Romano told TheMarker COM.VENTION in Tel Aviv. Romano examined the issue in a panel discussion on the topic of the adaption of leading companies to the challenges of the Internet. According to Romano, the Internet in the aviation and tourism industry in Israel „is trailing the rest of the world, the U.S. in particular.”

Yossi Fattal, CEO of the Israel Tourist & Travel Agents Association, said in response that in his estimation there’s no basis for this number. „While, in truth, use of the Internet in the decision making process regarding buying tickets is above 20 percent, actual purchases of tickets over the Internet in the coming years won’t exceed 5-10 percent.” He says that according to surveys his association has conducted for several years, a significant percentage of people express the intent and desire to buy tickets over the Internet, „yet we don’t see any development of this field in practice.” Romano added that also „check-ins” could be processed through the Internet. The company plans to launch a service within two months, which would allow ordering a company through the Internet to collect the baggage of the client at home, he said. Romano rejected the possibility that direct reservations of airline tickets over the Internet would harm travel agents and significantly reduce processing fees they would collect from El Al. According to him, the prices of airline tickets marketed through the Internet are no different than the prices of the tickets sold by travel agents. He noted the price is such that it intrinsically includes the travel agent commission.