Do you use Orbitz to book flights on American Airlines? Well, your online travel buying habits may have to change. American is getting tough with Orbitz – and other online travel agencies – about how they do business together. For now, you can keep buying tickets on American via Orbitz, but a change could come as early as December 1, 2010.
The rhetoric is already high, as you can see in a recent Bloomberg report. Barney Hartford, the CEO of Orbits, said, “This is a broad attack by American on the travel distribution landscape.” The airline wants the likes of Orbitz to pull flight and fare info directly, rather than through a global distribution system.
So, is this all saber-rattling, or are American’s threats to pull out of Orbitz real. Bloomberg reports:
American can’t afford to pull its content off all the global distribution systems, and its conflict with Orbitz is a “private negotiation that suddenly became public,” said Jay Sorensen, president of aviation consultant Ideaworks and a former marketing director at Midwest Airlines.
Sorensen said he doesn’t “see an agenda here for American to remake the travel industry.” He indicated that this is part of a prudent negotiating strategy but noted that Orbitz may call the carrier’s bluff.
There’s a lot at stake – hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact. American has paid nine-figure sums to companies like Sabre and Galileo to gain access to online travel agencies and wouldn’t mind bypassing them and saving a few bucks, it seems.
So, will negotiations turn into a game of “chicken” as the end of the month approaches? Let’s wait and see how this develops.