And, the developments just keep coming. The latest in the airline booking battle is that global distribution service Sabre has given American Airlines a bit of a
shove nudge. According to a statement from the Business Travel Coalition, “Sabre took steps to protect the interests of an independent travel distribution system from American Airlines’ (AA) attempt to impose a new model that heaps huge new costs on the travel industry and diminishes comparison shopping for consumers.”
Specifically, Sabre has downgraded offerings from American Airlines and elimited booking fee discounts. Also, according to the Business Travel Coalition statement, Sabre has “delivered notice of termination of its agreement with AA.”
With this move, which the BTC says “began with AA’s unprovoked assault on Orbitz late last year,” the situation is not a skirmish “but rather an all out war for the future of both airline and all travel distribution in the U.S. and around the world.”
This is the latest move in a battle over brand and customer ownership, which you read first on Gadling a month ago.”The stakes in this conflict are clear: either an improved airline industry and distribution marketplace centered around the consumer, or one that subordinates consumer interests to the self-serving motivations of individual airlines endeavoring to shift costs and impose their wills on consumers and the other participants in the travel industry,” said BTC Chairman Kevin Mitchell.
He added, “Single-supplier direct connect proposals, like the one advanced by American Airlines, can significantly increase costs for all distribution participants and cause massive fragmentation of airfares and ancillary fees depriving consumers of the ability to compare the total cost of air travel options across all airlines.”
According to a BTC survey of corporate travel managers, 98 percent do not support the American Airlines Direct Connect strategy.
“Since the U.S. global distribution system industry segment was deregulated in late 2003, the strategic interests among GDSs, travel agencies, travel management companies, corporate travel managers and consumers have evolved into near-perfect alignment,” Mitchell explained. “Because the airline industry is one where competitors often follow one another, it is of paramount importance that corporate travel managers, individual supply chain participants, including the associations that represent them, stand up and very clearly communicate to the airlines what their distribution system requirements are.”