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Virgin preps for Sabre switchover

Virgin Australia will be transitioning to its new Sabre integrated IT platform next week.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

Virgin Australia is set to finally light up its Sabre back-end system, which will be used to handle customer bookings and check-ins.

The airline sent out a notice to its Velocity Frequent Flyer loyalty program members, stating that some of its online services will be down from January 9 to January 13 due to the switchover.

The transition will occur on January 12 and January 13.

Virgin announced in November 2011 that it would be overhauling its core IT platforms, favouring a single, integrated IT platform to facilitate bookings with code-share partners including Etihad and Air New Zealand.

"We've been working with Sabre and our various partners over the last 12 months on detailed planning and preparation to ensure we minimise disruption to our customers, our partners, our team, and our operations," a Virgin spokesperson told ZDNet.

The airline had to train over 4,000 staff members in the new system, with some of them stationed at airports, call centres, and other locations to facilitate the transition, according to the spokesperson.

Backed by SabreSonic, the new back-end Sabre customer sales and service system will handle reservation, sales, electronic ticketing, guest recognition, inventory management operations, and check-ins.

Virgin would not confirm whether it has completely severed ties with Navitaire. The airline previously planned to do so once the new system is up and running.

Navitaire, a supplier of IT services to airlines, suffered a major outage in late 2010 that left many airline passengers stranded. Virgin subsequently threatened legal action against Navitaire in a case that was settled out of court in April 2011.

Virgin Australia would not disclose the cost of the upgrade to the new Sabre system.

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