American Airlines says it invited the major global distribution systems to tie into its new direct-connect technology and negotiated with them for more than a year.
But, the GDSs -- Amadeus, Travelport GDS and Sabre Travel Network -- "have declined so far," says Cory Garner, American's director of merchandising strategy.
American licensed Farelogix technology to serve as the airline's direct-connect technology, and that may not sit well with all of the concerned parties.
Farelogix and Sabre, in particular, engaged in a bitter dispute in 2009 when Sabre terminated Farelogix's developer's agreement.
American, meanwhile, has been using its direct-connect to distribute fares and its first optional services, the Your Choice Boarding and Flexibility Package.
So, why won't the GDSs simply connect to American's direct-connect to access these ancillary services for their travel agency subscribers?
The GDSs say they support XML standards and use XML today, so is technology the roadblock?
American acknowledges that its direct-connect comes with a new distribution model, although details are few.
"We are seeking a new distribution model that supports relevant fare and optional service offers based upon American's knowledge of customers' needs and desires, and an economic model that better reflects the value that GDSs will add to American under the new model," Garner says.
In other words, American would take on the merchandising role from within its own systems rather than ceding merchandising to the GDSs, and the airline's bargaining stance is that the new economic model would have to reflect that shift.
"Our technology need not be a GDS bypass, but it can be if required," Garner says. "We have invited the GDSs to integrate with our direct connect but all have declined so far. Our direct connect will continue to appear to be a GDS bypass as long as the GDSs choose it to be so."
Most airlines admit they need GDS distribution, so the push-pull will continue.
Here's how American vows it will play out:
"The Direct Connect will ultimately serve as the single point of access for all American fares and optional services by the outside world, whether that be travel agencies, GDSs, or any other technology company," Garner says.