Air Fares Fly Up into the Cloud
For over 50 years, an airline-owned business managed all fare data for the entire airline industry. ATPCO is now flying its operations to the cloud, opening the doors for future innovation.
When purchasing a plane ticket, there are multiple questions that the buyer must answer. Starting with where and when you are flying? Then it is the question of which airline would you like to fly with? How much do you want to spend on this flight? Do you plan on checking in any luggage? Are you willing to make stops along the way to the destination? Do you want to access wi-fi on the flight? There is a plethora of hoops to jump through before your flight is actually booked.
Whether answering these questions takes you directly to the airline themselves, to another third-party agency, or to a site like Expedia, ATPCO is the one behind the scenes giving you all the flight information. This airline-owned company has been collecting and distributing fare prices and fare information for the airline and travel industry for over half a century. At the beginning of its time, the process was manual, literally with a manual.
ATPCO’s CIO stated that they used to publish massive books that were several inches thick. Within those books was all the information about fares and tariffs. Travel agents had to go into those books to write out the ticket information for each journey.
As times have very much so progressed past the days of huge books, ATPCO has since sought on automating their process. The company wants to create an environment that can leverage the network economics of being one company that manages all of this data. ATPCO currently handles more than 200 million fares for 460 airline companies. Besides dealing with airlines themselves, ATPCO is also in business with travel agencies, search engines, distribution systems and governments all over the world. Even though ATPCO has been trying for automation for the past 30 years, complexities are still sprouting up. Because airlines continue to try and differentiate themselves and the data to accurately price fares is ever-growing, there are more to consider when automating. Currently, ATPCO has around 1600 varying data elements that airlines utilize, through APIs, to alter fares and prices before that information is released throughout the industry. In 2018, the airline-owned business purchased Routehappy to supplement fare information with richer content about flights, like the layout of the plane, food and entertainment options. Overall, with airfare moving to the cloud, the automation will open up a runway of efficiency and innovation.