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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ticket System Gets Off the Ground

The passenger enters the Siberian travel agency, places a fur hat on the counter, and the smiling receptionist looks up from a computer terminal.

"Next week I'm going to be in Moscow and I need to book a flight to St. Petersburg and then to Frankfurt, with a return to Novosibirsk," the traveler says. "Can you please order me vegetarian meals on the flights?"

The official types a series of commands into the computer, confirms the flights, and prints out the tickets.

That image of post-Aeroflot bliss was described Tuesday by aviation and computer officials who have designed Sirena 3, a new computer reservation system for Russia's massive aviation network.

"It gives you the same system you would have if you are booking in the States or Western Europe," said Jim Price, IBM's Aeroflot project manager.

Sirena 3 will enable easier tracking of cargo, faster check-in at airports and booking from any travel outlet up to a year in advance.

Russian and IBM officials, working with reservation software used by American Airlines' SABRE system, have already designed the Sirena 3 system and installed an initial bank of IBM computers in Moscow.

Yet it will be at least a year before travelers will be able to see the results. The problem is the usual one.

"The one thing that is not finally tied up is the funding," Price said in an interview.

The initial phase of implementing the new reservation system will cost $100 million, Price said. Russian officials say they are still negotiating with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the U.S. Export-Import Bank for funding.