American Airlines, battling Expedia, Orbitz and the GDSs over distribution costs and its direct-connect initiative, signed online travel agency Vegas.com as a direct-connect partner.
The agreement is between American, Vegas.com and the site's technology division, Cyllenius.
Cyllenius powers Vegas.com, Lasvegas.com, Espanol.Vegas.com and Mexico.com. All four sites are part of the privately held Greenspun Family of companies and are using the American Airlines direct-connect link, the companies say.
The companies disclosed that Vegas.com, which claims to be the "largest city destination travel website in the world," actually has been using the direct link for the past five months.
Vegas.com connects to other airlines using Travelport's Worldspan GDS.
The sites are accessing American Airlines' fares as well as "customized travel products and services," the companies say.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The announcement comes two days before American's scheduled earnings call on Jan. 19.
Dan Hippler, vice president of marketing for Vegas.com, says the company's technology unit, Cyllenius, connects to AA Direct Connect through Farelogix, which is the airline's direct-connect supplier.
The driver for the transition to AA Direct Connect wasn't economics, Hippler says, but the desire to be open to new technologies and multiple types of connections, whether they be to airlines, hotels or entertainment suppliers.
Vegas.com, Hippler points out, provides technology not only to its own websites, but to third-party destination websites, as well.
Implementing AA Direct Connect through Farelogix wasn't especially difficult, Hippler says, adding that it's been "very stable and worked very well for us."
He says Vegas.com has a long-term relationship with American Airlines, is currently accessing the airline's fares through the direct-connect, and is working on the capacity to receive ancillary services, as well.
Hippler confirms that Vegas.com accesses other airlines through Worldspan, whose parent company, Travelport, has been battling American Airlines over direct-connect issues.
Vegas.com has a "really good relationship with Worldspan at multiple levels," Hippler says, adding "we can't tell what they are going to do," if anything, in reaction to the announcement.
The AA-Vegas.com announcement comes about 10 days after Delta Air Lines removed its flights from Vegas.com and a couple of other second-tier online travel agencies.
Of the move, Hippler says: "Delta is pursuing a business model which is best for them."
Although Vegas.com is the first OTA in the U.S. to publicly disclose it is connected to American via a direct link, other parties are believed to be using the technology, as well.
Lute Technologies, for example, has stated that AERTiCKET in Germany has been in production with AA Direct Connect since March 2009, and Farelogix declined to provide specifics, but has indicated that some of its customers are using AA Direct Connect.