ATPCO, the airline-owned corporation that is the world's largest collector and distributor of fare data, has acquired airline merchandising content platform Routehappy.

The companies did not disclose the purchase price.

New York-based Routehappy is an industry leader in supporting rich flight-shopping content displays, including the placement of product photographs, on airline distribution channels. Founded in 2011, the company counts Expedia, Google, Sabre and United among its 65 customers.

The addition of Routehappy fills a void for ATPCO, CEO Rolf Purzer said in an interview.

"We have a gap in our content and that gap is rich media content, and Routehappy will provide that content," he said.

The acquisition won't change ATPCO's business model overnight. Routehappy will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary, while ATPCO will maintain its focus of distributing fares, fare rules and other airline products, primarily to the GDSs. But, Purzer and Routehappy CEO Bob Albert said that in time, ATPCO will begin integrating Routehappy's display content.

"Practically, it's not all going to be integrated within one magic pipe," Albert said.

Travel technology analyst Henry Harteveldt said the acquisition could help ATPCO evolve into a merchandising hub as airlines focus more on selling themselves as a differentiated product rather than merely as a purveyor of airfare.

"This will eventually allow ATPCO to play a merchandising role as airlines go into an NDC world of rich product displays," he said, referring to IATA's New Distribution Capability, the XML-based messaging standard designed to enable airlines to more easily sell a wide suite of ancillary products and bundled fares across their gamut of distribution channels.

Harteveldt said that while changes to what ATPCO can provide to GDSs won't be immediate, they might not be that far off.

"I don't expect that on Feb. 2, travel agents will start seeing this content, but it is very possible within half a year or so that some aspects of the combined options start showing up in the GDSs," he said.

Albert said that one thing that will change immediately as a result of the ATPCO/Routehappy deal is that Routehappy will gain a new level of credibility and trust within the airline distribution world.

"Overnight, the industry becomes aware that Routehappy has become the industry standard for airline rich content," he said.
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Correction: ATPCO's CEO is Rolf Purzer. His name was misspelled in a previous version of this report.

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