Using the telephone in the airline industry is usually confined to HQ or local airport conversations.  Surprisingly ‘Messaging’ is one the key communication mechanisms of the airline industry.  Driven in part by the fact that Type B  offers a common standard for global communications and also in part due to the historical legacy of the airline IT development.

Most airlines use a combination of modern e-mail systems and a legacy messaging system called Type B.

Type B is actually a standard, created by the industry under the direction of IATA some 30 years ago.  It’s a simple messaging format, that allowed airlines (and in particular airline hosts) to communicate between each other.  It is both used for person to person messaging but it’s primary use is for machine to machine data, transactions and confirmations.

Airlines use Type B to transmit seat reservations, bookings, timetables, schedules, arrival and departure information.  The industry spends over $200 million per year sending and receiving information via this format.

Sometimes viewed as a costly neccessity, the industry has been unable to collectively invest time and energy to replace this legacy messaging system.  There are some additional functional developments with the introduction of an upgrade to Type B called Type X, but essentially the industry still maintains the system they developed over 30 years ago.