There are no apparent signs of an airline exit from OpenTravel now that six major U.S. airlines have formed their own XML standards group, Open AXIS Group.
American Airlines and ATPCO, which have full-membership and allied-membership status , respectively, in Open AXIS Group, indicate they will be retaining their membership in OpenTravel, as well.
Cory Garner, American's director of merchandising strategy, says the airline has no plans to leave OpenTravel.
"OpenTravel and Open AXIS can coexist," Garner says, "with the former playing a broader role in travel distribution standards and the latter focusing on building and maintaining the most robust standard for airline direct-connects."
Meanwhile, Tom Gregorson, ATPCO's senior director of product strategy and development, says the airline-owned fare-data collection and distribution organization likewise will retain its membership in OpenTravel while taking an allied board slot in the just-formed Open AXIS Group.
Gregorson says ATPCO tries to participates in all forums even though it causes some "stress" because of limited resources.
He notes that ATPCO is so committed to OpenTravel that it recently tried unsuccessfully to get a seat on the OpenTravel board.
Asked about a rumor that ATPCO's airline owners might have pressured the organization to work with Open AXIS, Gregorson says, "not at all."
In fact, Gregorson says, ATPCO learned about Open AXIS and sought out the organization to find out more.
Gregorson says ATPCO's interest in Open AXIS is to try to establish standards for data distribution as ATPCO is "open to all these schemes."
If an airline wants to distribute via XML today, ATPCO doesn't currently do it and wants to ensure it can accommodate XML in the future, he adds.
With American and ATPCO expressing continuing support for OpenTravel -- despite helping to found what appears to be a rival organization -- the question becomes whether this support will be heartfelt and deep, or whether it is the politically correct thing to say at this juncture.
Some technology companies, suppliers and intermediaries in other sectors assuredly will view the formation of another standards body as potential fragmentation, setting up a donnybrook for legitimacy between the two bodies.
Meanwhile, Air Canada, which has not been a member of OpenTravel since 2008, provided some insights on why it believes forming Open AXIS Group was necessary.
"We have a great deal of respect for OTA, but we feel that its focus is very broad and is not specifically dedicated to the airlines," says Graham Wareham, Air Canada's senior director of product distribution. "Given the urgency to have standards set for airline connectivity and distribution, and the rapidly evolving airline initiatives around merchandising strategies, we felt that a standards group specifically dedicated to airline connectivity was required."