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Virgin Australia sees bookings boom on back of Sabre

Virgin Australia has reported a five-fold increase in Global Distribution System bookings since bringing in the Sabre booking system, the company reported today.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Following a bumpy transition over to the Sabre booking system in mid-January, Virgin Australia has reported a five-fold increase in bookings through the Global Distribution System (GDS).

The GDS is the system travel agents use to book flights, accommodation, and car hire for travellers, and Virgin Australia's CEO John Borghetti noted in the company's half-year results report today that there is typically a 10 percent premium on bookings through those systems.

The switch from the troubled Navitaire system over to the Sabre system occurred on the weekend of January 12-13. Although customers complained about lengthy delays over that weekend, the system has been running without major issue since.

Virgin Australia had to train over 4,000 staff members to use the new system.

Borghetti said today that the Sabre system will allow Virgin Australia to push into the business market it has been aggressively targeting since moving away from being just a budget airline.

"The Sabre system will accelerate our growth in the corporate, government, and high yield markets," he said.

Virgin Australia put the cost for transitioning to the Sabre reservation system at AU$36 million.

The airline also reported that its wireless in-flight entertainment system will be rolled out to 80 domestic aircrafts by the end of 2013.

Virgin Australia reported a net profit of AU$23 million for the half ending December 31 2012, down from AU$51.8 million in the same half of 2011. The company has blamed a difficult economic environment and the introduction of the carbon tax in Australia, which set the company back AU$24.4 million.

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