Global corporate travel giant Hogg Robinson has turned the distribution debate screw just a little tighter by revealing talks are taking place with American Airlines to use the famed Direct-Connect.
Details are sketchy and language carefully chosen in a joint statement released this afternoon by the pair, but both have agreed in principle to explore a long-term agreement so HRG can "would receive guaranteed direct long-term access to American's fares, schedules, and customized travel products and services".
Talks appear to be at an early stage, with HRG saying it plans to access American's inventory and other content through the Direct-Connect platform and using its own technology.
This, HRG says, will be "either directly or via a global distribution system (GDS) application programming interface (API)".
HRG currently connects to American Airlines through multiple GDSs, depending on the location of the agent, an official says.
The move shouldn't comes as a huge surprise given the noises HRG CEO David Radcliffe has made in recent months when asked about the ongoing GDS-AA debate.
But the company's move is in stark contrast to that of fellow business travel agency giant CWT, which has not exactly given the idea of Direct-Connect universal support.
Speaking in June this year, Radcliffe told ABTN:
"I certainly think that if you look down the path, and if you take out the personalities, and you just look at the principal of what the airlines are trying to do...
"They’re not trying to do anything different to any other manufacturer or service industry, or anyone that supplies a product. What they’re trying to do is distribute that product in the way that they want to distribute it."
Radcliffe has expressed "sympathy" for the GDSs involved in the ongoing row ("probably still the most efficient distribution method that there is"), but says the relationship is "broken" between.
HRG is no small-fish in the debate, having operations in 120 countries around the world.
NB: It will be interesting to hear what the Business Travel Coalition, arguably one of the most vocal of the anti-Direct-Connecters, has to say when the news sinks in.