Virgin Australia to switch on Sabre system

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Virgin Australia to switch on Sabre system

Transition scheduled for this weekend.

Virgin Australia will flick the switch on a hosted ticketing and reservation system this weekend, up to six weeks ahead of schedule.

The airline — which combines the operations of Virgin Blue and V Australia — is at the pointy end of the 'Unify Program', which brings the former domestic and international arms of Virgin onto a single Sabre system.

Virgin Blue operated on Navitaire's New Skies ticketless reservation platform, while V Australia used Amadeus' Altea.

iTnews reported last year that the airline would consolidate onto a Sabre system "by March 2013".

However, in a statement posted to its website this week, the airline said it would make the IT shift this weekend.

The airline said its "booking system and online check-in will be offline on the 12th and 13th of January" while the system transition takes place.

It noted that passengers for flights departing Saturday would be able to check in online up to 36 hours before departure using the old systems.

Passengers on Sunday flights were advised to check in at the airport as "web and mobile check-in services will not be available".

"We have put on extra staff in our airports and call centres to assist customers and we are working hard to ensure minimal disruption during this period," the airline noted.

It also warned of the potential for teething problems in the period following switchover.

"Once our new system is implemented, the check-in process may be slower than usual," it said.

Separately, the airline said it would switch off its Velocity frequent flyer portal from 10.30pm AEDT tonight, with the service to be unavailable until Sabre is active.

From January 14, Virgin Australia will use the designator code 'VA' for its flight numbering, dispensing with the "DJ" prefix used previously for domestic services.

Virgin Blue's Navitaire system, which has been in use since mid-2009, has been the subject of several high-profile outages.

The largest outage, in September 2010, saw at least 116 flights cancelled, resulting in an estimated pre-tax profit impact of between $15 and $20 million. Damages were eventually reached confidentially out of court.

There were less severe outages in February and November of last year, though the system crashes caused delays for passengers.

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