Class act: Sabre removes more Air Canada fares

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Sabre ratcheted up its pressure on Air Canada, removing the schedules and availability displays for the airlines higher-end Executive and Latitude Plus fares.

The removal of these C, J (Executive) and Y (Latitude Plus) fares, which took effect Thursday afternoon, was designed to pressure Air Canada to restore its no-frills Tango fares to the major GDSs and Air Canadas travel agency Web site.

Sabres actions were for points of sale in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, except for Canada and European Union countries, where the GDSs are still regulated.

On the evening of May 2, Sabre began its actions against Air Canada, biasing the airlines flight displays and ensuring that other airlines inventory appears higher on travel agents screens than Air Canadas when the prices are equal.

Air Canada stated Friday morning that it is unaware of any other punitive actions taken against the airlines by other GDSs. Air Canada has content agreements with Sabre, Amadeus and Galileo. Worldspan declined to comment on the matter, and Air Canada apparently has no content agreement with Worldspan.

In a letter to travel agencies May 4, Amadeus stated that it is extremely disappointed with Air Canadas decision to withdraw Tango fares from travel agents and to make them available solely on AirCanada.com.

Amadeus indicated that it had just recently reached an agreement with Air Canada to add to its GDS Tango and Tango Plus fares for flights sold in North, Central and South America. Previously, Amadeus had a content agreement for Latititude, Latitude Plus and Executive Class fares.

We strongly encourage you to contact Air Canada directly to discuss the availability of their Tango fares through the Amadeus system to enable the proper and efficient serving of your mutual customers, the Amadeus letter stated.

Cendant Travel Distribution Services, too, condemned Air Canadas decision to remove Tango fares and said it is discussing a resolution of the matter with Air Canada.

ASTA on Friday blasted Air Canada's actions, saying "this practice impairs the efficiency of travel agencies and limits consumer choice of preferred channels for buying air travel."

"Ultimately, it debases the airlines' yields ... and is counterproductive to the achievement of sustainable profitability for the airlines," ASTA stated.

ASTA, which criticized Air Canada for its lack of notice regarding the removal of Tango fares, said "a dark cloud hovers over the Air Canada position."

ASTA said it has been in touch with Air Canada and has been unsuccessful in getting the airline to explain the implication of its position in all markets.

"Unnecessary costs will be incurred by everyone affected and, faced with obscure explanations of why Tango Plus, supposedly a more expensive and feature-rich fare than Tango, is in the U.S., actually cheaper than Tango, consumers may choose to fly on other airlines," ASTA stated.

Air Canada said May 2 that it removed Tango fares from Sabre, Galileo and Amadeus because the GDSs dont have the technology to sell them -- including offering certain discounts and add-ons -- the way Air Canada does on its own Web site.

Sabre claimed that Air Canada wanted Sabre to foot the development costs necessary to change the way its flights are displayed and sold in the Sabre system.

Air Canada declined to comment on Sabres actions, but pointed out that Tango fares for U.S. transborder routes were available only in Florida markets year-round, although they were used on a tactical basis in other U.S. transborder routes.

The airline stated that Tango Plus fares were unaffected by its decision to remove Tango fares from the GDSs.

To contact reporter Dennis Schaal, send e-mail to [email protected].

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