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Huge Growth in Online Airline Bookings in Brazil

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A global benchmark survey of leading airport hubs has found that online booking among passengers using the Brazilian gateway, Sao Paulo Guarulhos, has risen almost 50% over the last twelve months.

Compared to last year’s SITA Passenger Self Service Survey when 42.3% of passengers surveyed used online booking, this year 61.5% of survey respondents declared they had booked their flight online which means the Brazilian airport is fast catching up on the global average of 63.7% across the six airports surveyed.

The 4th annual SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service (PSS) Survey is an in-depth look at the attitudes and habits of a representative sample of the 232 million passengers who use these six leading international airports: Sao Paulo Guarulhos, Brazil; Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta; Mumbai International; Charles de Gaulle, Paris; Moscow Domodedovo; and  O.R. Tambo Airport, Johannesburg. The data is extracted from interviews with 2,193 passengers conducted at the departure gates earlier this year.

The survey also found that passengers are spending more through airline web sites on ancillary services such as hotels and car hire and their numbers are expected to double. In Sao Paulo Guarulhos, 30% of passengers use airline websites frequently or intermittently to book hotel rooms or car rental which is well above the 20% average.

While e-commerce transformation is already well underway in Brazil, the adoption of self-service channels is running behind industry trends. In fact, this year’s survey shows a drop in actual usage of self-service check-in options at the time of the survey to just 11.1% compared with 25.1% the previous year. This can be partly explained by reduced passenger traffic due to external factors such as the global economic context and the Swine (H1N1) Flu virus which encouraged people to skip kiosks and go straight to an agent due to smaller queues as 32.2% of respondents reported.

The SITA survey found that the main reason globally why some passengers did not use the self-service check-in option was because they also had bags to check-in and over 93% of the surveyed passengers in Sao Paulo reported having checked-in bags which needs to be factored into the deployment of self-service check-in options.

Olivier Layly, SITA Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “Online booking will grow further in Sao Paulo as awareness of its availability increases. This is good for the future of self-service check-in as experience tells us that on-line bookers are almost three times more likely to use it. We are confident that self-service check-in is on the rise in Brazil and has by now returned to normal growth. Passengers flying through Sao Paulo Airport confirm such optimism as 90% are favourable towards using kiosks to check-in in the future and 73.7% have a positive attitude towards using web check-in options.

“It is very clear from the survey that Brazilian passengers are generally keen to take advantage of technology to improve their travel experience. A good example is that the survey found that 77% of Brazilian passengers would prefer to have an electronic boarding pass compared to a global average of 49% across the six airports surveyed.”

Dwell time at the airport is the step of the journey that passengers interviewed in Sao Paulo Airport would like to change the most with 39.2% asking for improved internet access capabilities and entertainment on demand from their mobile phone.

Passengers flying on more than 100 different airlines and representing over 80 different nationalities were interviewed during April/June 2009 in this independent survey.

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