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January 24, 1989

BRITISH AIRWAYS LEADS WAY AS AIRLINES FIGHT TERROR WITH COMPUTERISED TICKETS

By CBR Staff Writer

Computers will help airlines in the fight against terrorism, according to a recent article published in the Mail on Sunday. As reported at the beginning of last year (CI No 874), British Airways, Swissair, and Air France, have all been experimenting with a range of computerised ticket systems at sales offices and airports. To date, passengers have been perceived as the main beneficiaries: the systems present customers with a ticket with a magnetic stripe on the back containing all their relevant flight details. This, in turn, helps speed up booking, check-in procedures, and the flow of passenger traffic. However, computerised systems also provide airline security staff with access to the same passenger data – flight and seat number, route, destination, and luggage items – at any stage in a flight’s life cycle. Although unable to go into detail, a British Airways spokesman confirmed that its system, known as the Advanced Boarding Ticket, ABT, had a number of security implications. In contrast to Swissair and Air France, who both use a system developed by Electronique Marcel Dassault SA, British Airways developed its ABT software in-house. Hardware for the project was supplied by a range of companies, known to include NCR. To date, British Airways has used the system at Concorde and some First Class and Club World check-in desks, together with its Regent Street booking office. It hopes to begin a phased, full-scale implementation of the system at the start of the summer.

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