Case study

Airbus Travel Reservation Solution optimised with KDS

October 19, 2015

Airbus estimates its total annual cost savings are in the eight figures, and will achieve a return on investment within a year of the launch of the KDS online booking tool.


In March 2005, Airbus embarked upon a search for a way to optimise control of its €200 million global travel spend through the use of an online tool. The primary objective was to introduce a service to enhance employees’ travel planning, while bringing cost savings to the company by lowering transaction fees and the average ticket price. When Airbus had analysed its travel booking behaviour it realised it was disjointed and heterogeneous. The company wanted to change travel buying behaviour so it could drive cost savings, increase policy compliance and improve supplier management and steering capabilities.

The Solution

When selecting an online solution, the requirement for Airbus was to have a functionality that could integrate a standard for booking air, charter flights and rail bookings across different countries. Since Airbus offers regular charter services between its primary European offices ( e.g. Toulouse, Bristol, Hamburg) the company wanted the ability to encourage employees to use the charter services whenever possible. Airbus also wanted the ability to offer low cost carriers and rail travel, and to introduce the concept of ‘best buy’ and missed savings.

By employing KDS Corporate, the company was able to address these needs, as users are now able to make travel reservations from their office PCs, as well as check and change travel itineraries from a remote location. Available via the Airbus intranet, Airbus employees can book their scheduled and charter flights, hotels and car rentals 24 hours a day, from anywhere in the world.

On the administration side, the system’s primary benefit is the increased control over travel policy and best buy booking behaviour. The core technology behind the KDS solution provides:

A global solution built for worldwide markets, supporting 11 languages and more than 170 currencies;

  • Multiple travel information sources (GDS, a supplier site, web based information) properly configured for comprehensive travel management.
  • Direct access to clients’ negotiated fares, hotel rates and airline schedules.
  • A smart and powerful fare quote engine.
  • Travel Policy

The KDS solution also allows Airbus to achieve its policy compliance goals. Rules governing suppliers can be set at the click of a mouse. For example, the travel technology team can immediately configure the system to display an airline exclusively on specific routes and/or hide an airline on other routes. The online booking tool provides flexibility in offering both the application of country-specific policies in a single application and the harmonisation of processes across the business. The tool also makes users aware of missed savings and, in the event that users do not choose the preferred option, prompts employees to explain why they are not selecting an in-policy option.

The Implementation

When implementing the KDS booking solution, Airbus set three main objectives, all of which KDS played an integral part in meeting. These included configuring the tool so it reflected Airbus’s travel policy; seamlessly integrating the technology with Airbus’s expense management tool; and providing a full change management program, which included a communication campaign, a series of group and one-on-one training courses and awareness sessions with Airbus employees.

The Benefits

Employee adoption of the KDS booking solution, which Airbus privately branded u.go offers a compelling story. The tool was officially rolled out in October 2005. Currently, 4000 Airbus travellers at the Toulouse-based headquarters are using the KDS solution. The company’s target rate of adoption was 60% across all travel. In February 2006, Airbus well surpassed that target with its ten thousandth booking, bringing its total adoption rate to 70%. On its top 13 city-pairs, Airbus has reached an 80% adoption rate. The tool has also helped Airbus significantly drive bookings to the company’s charter flights.

Airbus has also seen a substantial reduction in average ticket prices. The vast majority of Airbus’s travel is intra-European, and on these routes the company estimates it saves €50 per segment. Multiplied by the total number of reservations Airbus has booked through the KDS online solution thus far, the savings are substantial.

Airbus estimates its total annual cost savings are in the eight figures, and will achieve a return on investment within a year of the launch of the KDS online booking tool.

The efficiency of a ‘one stop’ platform saves time, reduces travel costs and helps manage information. KDS technology makes it easy for Airbus employees to stay within travel policy by steering them to the company’s negotiated supplier rates.

The platform continues to best serve the needs of Airbus’s employees. As a result, Airbus has roll out the platform to an additional 49 000 employees across Europe .

“We’re very proud of the innovation in our core products such as the new Airbus A380 so we think we should strive to be equally innovative in our online booking tool and travel technology. KDS plays an integral part in the objective to be innovative in every part of our business.” – James Westgarth Head of Travel Technology, EADS