Published on Friday, March 9, 2012

GDSs in row with IATA over magazine article

Global distribution systems have hit back at criticism from airline body IATA after they were accused of being outdated and not useful to airlines.

A row has broken out after an article appeared in IATA’s magazine, Airlines International, saying GDSs are stopping airlines from fully exploiting the potential of selling ancillary services.

The European Technology & Travel Services Association and its US counterpart have written an open letter expressing their anger and concerns.

In it, they say GDSs have been working at the same pace to ensure their technology can support the changes the airline industry wishes to see.

"As you will know, the first airlines are now filing ancillary services and fees through the GDS channel, with many more due to follow," said the letter.

It said the article was wrong to suggest that GDSs were a "bottleneck preventing the airline industry from bringing its innovative products to market".

"We find it unacceptable that the GDS distribution channel is being called outdated when it is that same GDS channel that is today the most cost-effective tool for buyers of business travel to manage the complexity of supply, and in fact many airlines utilize the technology and products of the GDSs to run their web sites, which get rave reviews in the article," the letter continued.

It said it recognised that certain distribution service providers were downplaying the value of GDSs for their own commercial gain.

"However, we find it regrettable that IATA endorses such isolated providers and publishes an utterly biased article in its flagship magazine without even giving the GDSs an opportunity to make their case in what is in our view a very important discussion about the future of distribution," said the letter.

"We believe that what is written is completely at odds with reality, and it exhibits a lack of understanding, on the part of IATA, of the role the GDSs play for the vast majority of your airline members.

"We can't but conclude that IATA has an agenda which openly disregards the realities of the marketplace."

The letter is signed by ETTSA secretary general Christoph Klenner and president
Joe Rubin.

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