AirRail: a single booking and a single ticket for combined air and rail travel (26 September 2011)
Syntigo enables SNCB Europe to book train tickets directly
through the systems (GDS) of airlines and travel agencies. The
system will allow Brussels Airlines and Jet Airways to offer Thalys
tickets for direct connections between Paris and Brussels Airport.
The train offers an alternative to short-haul flights within
Syntigo has developed the AirRail system to enable train and plane bookings to be combined. This application is directly integrated into the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) – such as Amadeus, Galileo, etc. – that airlines and travel agencies use to make their bookings. Travel agents throughout the world can now book traditional IC train tickets and Thalys tickets for journeys between Belgium, the Netherlands and France. This system may be adapted for other countries and other rail companies in the future.
The high-speed rail network is constantly developing and
connects major European cities better than ever. Moreover, airlines
are now more frequently suggesting that clients travelling within
Europe make their journeys by high-speed train as an alternative to
short-haul flights. The only obstacle to extending this idea is the
process of booking tickets. A problem that is now tackled by
AirRail makes the booking process easier, so that travellers only need one e-ticket for both the train and plane booking. The price comes down as well, as airport taxes are only applied once. This way, airlines that do not offer direct flights from Brussels can still offer their flights on the Belgian market.
Together with the company AccesRail, which specialises in providing ‘rail products’ to travel agents, Syntigo enables train and plane journeys to be booked via the main bookings page, i.e. the first interface a travel agent is shown when opening the Global Distribution Systems (GDS). This system offers the unique function of being able to book a specific seat on the train, instead of an ‘open ticket’.
“The train is often a more economic, flexible and environmentally friendly alternative to short-haul flights,” explains Christine Valentyn, Business Unit Manager at Syntigo. “Now a journey combining air and rail travel can be booked easily, without the travel agent or the traveller having to do extra searches or take additional steps. To make this process easier, we are developing better synergy between trains and planes.”
Every airline that has an 'interline agreement' with AccesRail
can use this system. Some of the airlines that are already actively
using it include Brussels Airlines, Jet Airways, KLM and China
From 30th October 2011, Thalys will link Paris to Brussels Zaventem Airport via Brussels-Midi in 1 hour and 47 minutes. Brussels Airlines and Jet Airways will offer combined air-rail tickets for travel from Paris to 25 of their international destinations (including Brussels Airlines’ network of African destinations and Jet Airways’ destinations in India and North America) via Brussels Airport.
KLM announced in August 2011 that their passengers would now be able to book seats on one of the 10 Thalys services between Brussels-Midi and Amsterdam-Schiphol. Thanks to AirRail, train and plane journeys are booked together via a single e-ticket. The airline already offers a wide range of combined rail and air travel.
Thanks both to the range of high-speed trains between Brussels and Amsterdam and to the ease of booking with AirRail, travellers from Brussels can also book flights with China Airlines departing from Schiphol. As a result, China Airlines does not need to operate flights between Brussels and Amsterdam.