This wasn't "a shot heard 'round the world," but Amadeus accomplished something far-reaching in becoming the first GDS to enable travel agencies to issue IATA standard electronic miscellaneous documents through a settlement organization, in this case BSP.
OK, first let's dispense with the acronyms: IATA is the International Air Transport Association, the airline organization which created the EMD standard. And, BSP stands for Billing and Settlement Plan, which is IATA's global technology arm enabling travel agents to settle their airline transactions. BSP is similar in many respects to ARC, the Airline Reporting Corp., based in the U.S.
GDSs, of course, are global distribution systems, including Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport and Abacus.
So, according to IATA, travel agents in Finland, with a big assist from Amadeus, can now issue EMDs to settle bag fees with Finnair through BSP.
IATA characterizes the development as "an important step in deploying airlines' ancillary services within travel agency communities. This represents a major milestone towards the e-services board target of 100% usage of EMDs in IATA distribution systems by the end of 2013."
So, why is this important?
Airlines are providing ancillary services in their own internal channels and it is an exception to the rule when they make them available through GDSs. To date, when carriers have done so, the GDSs have had to come up with nonstandard workarounds to enable travel agencies to get compensated from airlines for these sales.
But, with the establishment of the EMD standard and Amadeus now making them available to travel agencies, the barriers are slowing coming down to enabling widespread distribution of airlines ancillary services.
This, of course, assumes that airlines want to use the travel agency distribution channel for their bag fees, premium seats and whatever new products are in the pipeline.
They now have a standard way of implementing these services through GDSs.
Amadeus' enabling of travel agency EMDs with Finnair and through BSP had been projected to come online during the first quarter of 2011.
It is a big deal when you consider that none of the estimated $22.6 billion in airline ancillary services provided in 2010 was settled with travel agencies via GDSs and through BSP or ARC.
Sabre and Travelport, too, are working on EMD implementation, which should be coming soon.