Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: July 13, 2005

SABRE'S MOVE AWAY FROM MAINFRAMES for some GDS functionality was one of the factors in the company's decision to restructure its Product and System Delivery (PSD) group and to lay off 120 to 150 employees by the end of the year, a spokesman said. TPF programmers, product testers and others will be among the casualties as Sabre reorganizes PSD into more nimble teams and invests more in open systems, a spokesman said. While much of Sabre's GDS still runs on mainframes, the pricing and shopping system for North American subscribers runs on open systems, and PSD helped develop it. A Sabre spokesman said it is attempting to be a low-cost provider to benefit suppliers, but he added that doesn't mean it would be the GDS with the lowest pricing.

THE FOUR GDSs believe their technology and value proposition has been misunderstood in the market, and they assigned the Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) to speak out for them en masse. Sabre, Amadeus and Galileo were founding members of ITSA in 1998, and Worldspan joined this year. Art Sackler, ITSAs executive director, said the GDSs felt hamstrung in their contest with the new entrants, which Sackler dubbed Limited Travel Distributors, because the four traditional GDSs spoke at conferences as individual companies rather than collectively. It was clear the discussion was one-sided, Sackler contended. The GDSs were missing from the debate. Reacting to the news of a new role for ITSA, which previously fought Orbitz on antitrust grounds, G2 SwitchWorks issued a statement that said: "Considering the majority of ITSA members are the four main GDSs, perhaps the Dept. of Justice should be looking into whether or not ITSA is a cover association for collusion among the legacy GDSs against the new entrants."  

TWO MIAMI COMPANIES, FARELOGIX AND PASS CONSULTING, are contributing to the debate about the new distribution environment with a new combined offering that enables agencies and corporations to book and manage inventory from multiple sources in a single application. It comes with a super PNR and native green-screen commands. The offering joins a Farelogix product called FLX Distribution Manager with a front-end and graphical user interface from PASS called Virtual Travel Organizer. Together they would enable agency and corporate users to access and book the four GDSs and to supplement their use with access to Web content, private fares and direct connections to suppliers. Farelogix and PASS also said there would be no technological reason why they wouldn't be able to access inventory from the alternative GDSs, as well.

REGARDING BOOKING FEES, meanwhile, Farelogix/PASS said suppliers would pay $1 to $1.50 per trip for air bookings using their system. Also, G2 SwitchWorks disclosed that its off-the-shelf booking fee is $3 per trip, and it is cheaper for one-way tickets and for airlines that have equity stakes in the company. Its airline ownership, G2 confirmed last week, is capped at 16%.

NUTRAVEL TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS, a Port Chester, N.Y., company that offers an online corporate booking tool, introduced Leg Fares. The new feature enables corporate users to view the fare for each leg of a multileg trip, according to President and CEO Carmine Carpanzano. Savings from lower fares would lower agency fees, he added. NuTravel clients include TQ3 Canada, Tzell Travel Group and Advance Travel.

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