AA Exec: Travelport Deal ‘Works for Both of Us’

by Michèle McDonald
AA Exec: Travelport Deal ‘Works for Both of Us’

The settlement agreement that brought an end to American Airlines’ antitrust lawsuit against Travelport is “plain evidence that an airline and a GDS can come together and work to deliver something that is good,” according to Cory Garner, American’s managing director of sales operations and distribution.

Garner told Travel Market Report that the agreement, which calls for the companies to integrate Travelport’s Universal API and American’s AADC direct-connect interface, required compromise from both sides but, in the end, “works for both of us.”

Initially, travel agents will have access to American’s Main Cabin Extra, its premium economy product, and to other desirable seats toward the front of the cabin. And “if all goes well,” there will be more to come, Garner said.

Coincides with NDC
The agreement comes at an interesting time for airline distribution, as IATA’s New Distribution Capability begins to take shape and undergoes testing this year.

The arrangement between American and Travelport is “perfectly consistent” with NDC, Garner said.

At this point, it’s not clear exactly what agents will see on their screens when the integration is complete. The Travelport Universal Desktop offers the capability of visual displays of airline products.

AA’s shopping engine
But Garner said the display is not as important as the fact that American is bringing its own shopping engine – one that was developed by Google’s ITA Software unit – to the party.

“The shopping logic is the key here,” he said.

Long before IATA began talking about “personalization,” American envisioned a system that would marry ancillary products to proprietary customer data to create customized offers.

No timeline for integration
Garner said he does not have a timeline for when the integration will be complete. “I hope it doesn’t drag on,” he said. “The content is compelling, and I think a lot of people will want access to it.”

Travelport is no stranger to these types of integration, having achieved a similar link with Southwest Airlines.

It also developed the Agencia desktop for Canadian agents, which provides access to Air Canada’s merchandising efforts in a deal that Travelport chief Gordon Wilson describes as “the way of the future.”

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