G2 SwitchWorks has a lot to prove.

The new alternative GDS has to prove to the airlines that it can pipe them into travel agency offices at a lower cost, with more flexible technology, than the traditional GDSs.

It has to prove a bit more to agents, most of whom seem to be more comfortable (financially and otherwise) with their GDS arrangements than most airlines. Agents have to be sold on the idea that a new GDS can deliver a reliable tool with a short learning curve that easily integrates into existing systems and procedures. And it has to do so while generating productivity gains that will offset any cost or revenue hits.

Thats a tall order. There is some chance that G2 will succeed, but there is also some chance that it will fail.

Our resident cynic predicts that, judging by the fate of most dot-coms and technology start-ups, it will achieve some success but fall short of its initial goals, revise its business plan, and end up as somebodys merger partner or subsidiary. Hes been wrong before, too.

In short, its a little early to predict how this experiment is going to play out, and thats why we believe ASTA and the Business Travel Coalition have jumped the gun by running off to complain to the Justice and Transportation departments that G2 is offering its first airline participants what is vaguely described as the opportunity to acquire a minority stake in G2.

As we see it, theres nothing to complain about, yet.

No airline has yet invested in G2 SwitchWorks. G2 has not disclosed how its opportunity is going to be structured, when it will be offered or how large a stake will be available to airline investors. G2 has confirmed, however, that its talking about minority shares, with no representation on the board and no control.

On the basis of this flimsy bit of fact, the BTC wrote a letter to the attorney general claiming that G2 appears to be funded and controlled by major U.S. airlines.

ASTAs follow-up punch darkly warned that G2s offer of minority shares to the airlines is an indication that the airlines are once again poised to involve themselves in the ownership and, possibly, control or significant influence of a firm with GDS-like characteristics.

The key words here are appears, indication, poised and possibly. Theres a lot of huffing and puffing and hedging here but no evidence that anything untoward has actually occurred.

ASTA and the BTC both claim that the DOT must make good on the pledge it made in 2003, when it got out of the business of regulating GDSs: We retain the authority to bring enforcement cases against firms that violate the statutory prohibition against unfair methods of competition, and we will take appropriate action if we have evidence of unlawful conduct.

Were going to take the DOT at its word and express the hope that it wont stick its nose back into this business unless it actually sees some unfair competition or some evidence of unlawful conduct.

So far, there is none.

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