The Business Travel Coalition and the American Society of Travel Agents strongly support the just-announced agreement between the Amadeus and Sabre global distribution systems to provide customer-responsive, backup content access to one another
should a major airline totally withdraw from one GDS.BTC and ASTA encourage
other GDSs to consider protecting their customers’ interests in a comparable
This forward-thinking agreement gives travel agents, on behalf of their
customers, the ability to complete bookings on an airline that might not
participate in one of the GDSs but continues to participate in the other. Each
GDS would promptly assume a backup role when requested to do so by the other
system. The intent of this agreement is to ensure that agents and the
travelers they serve have continued broad and uninterrupted access to airline
inventory to help avoid service disruptions.
Rich Products Corporation Travel Administrator and BTC Member Jean Covelli
stated, “A corporation losing the complete inventory of a major airline would
face a significant and costly short-term business continuity crisis. In such a
scenario, a corporation would be forced into a highly inefficient process
requiring employees shop for and purchase air travel services through a
variety of alternative distribution channels to their travel agency-of-record.
A corporation could potentially need to switch to a new travel agency—a
costly and disruptive process. Overall administrative, process and purchasing
costs would likely increase dramatically.”
ASTA president and CEO Kathryn W. Sudeikis, CTC observed, “Travel agencies
must be able to fully service their corporate and leisure customers and would
incur additional costs and business uncertainty issues if, for example,
American Airlines were to withdraw all content. We appreciate that American
wants to lower its costs, but American is not the only party whose interests
are involved here. The reality is that consumer costs would rise and confusion
would increase if a major airline were to withdraw from a GDS. There are no
known alternatives that provide equivalent services. We wholeheartedly support
the efforts of Sabre and Amadeus to create a deterrent to any airline effort
to bludgeon other commercial interests into submitting to their position.”
According to ASTA and the Coalition, the GDS content backup agreement
represents an effective solution to a potential nightmare scenario that could
adversely impact corporations fielding thousands of business travelers as well
as leisure travelers trying to make vacation plans. The potential for a
wholesale withdrawal of a major airline from one of these GDSs is a problem
that has worried the corporate travel manager and travel agency communities
for some time.
“The Amadeus-Sabre agreement is responsible policy as it protects the
integrity of the distribution system and the interests of the end-customer.
This policy is fully consistent with other time-tested formal and informal
customer protection and enhancement compacts in the travel industry ranging
from accommodating passengers of canceled flights or of bankrupt airlines to
code sharing among carriers,” said BTC chairman Kevin Mitchell.
With airlines entering into global alliances with the express purpose of
coordinating marketing strategies and asserting joint market power against
other interests, it is entirely fitting that the GDSs should seek this form of
mutual assistance on behalf of their customers.
ASTA and BTC encourage other GDSs and distribution system participants to
likewise seek ways to take uncertainty and attendant-associated costs out of
the process for travel agencies and corporate buyers of commercial air
transportation services. We commend these GDS companies for launching a new
program that puts the interests of consumers first.