Orbitz: Consumers Should Be Free to Choose How They Purchase Travel

At a briefing before the start
of the first hearing of the U.S. Department of Transportation`s National
Commission to Ensure Consumer Information and Choice in the Airline Industry,
Gary Doernhoefer, Orbitz
Vice President and General Counsel issued the
following statement:

Today, thanks to technology innovations, consumers have more choices than
ever in how and where they buy travel.  In this competitive environment, both
online and offline travel agents are vying for consumers` business by offering
new and improved products and services.
The Internet has dramatically changed the way that hundreds of products
from books to mortgages to insurance and music are sold and is also delivering
enormous benefits to travelers. Online travelers now have more sites from
which to choose, offering more options, more convenience, and an abundance of
information about fares, rates and schedules at the click of a mouse.
Consumers have responded positively to these new web sites, making travel one
of the most successful segments of e-commerce.
In the brick-and-mortar world, many travel agents—like Sunflower
Travel, recently cited as a success story by the Wall Street Journal—are
adapting and thriving by delivering value to consumers in the form of
innovative niche services and high-touch care.  According to The Journal, the
Sunflower Travel experience shows that new technologies can open doors “for
entrepreneurs with the courage to walk through them.”
Travel suppliers agree that the entry of new players into the marketplace
has been beneficial.  “Orbitz has changed the dynamics of airline ticket sales
and is greatly increasing competition ... as a new entrant, Orbitz is the all
important third competitor,” wrote Michael Conway, President and CEO of
National Airlines, to the Honorable Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of
Transportation.  Orbitz “is providing air travelers—for the first time ever
—a comprehensive, unbiased listing of all their flight options.”