If Orbitz Worldwide and Expedia Inc. thought the absence of American Airlines flights on their websites would lead to travelers merely booking other carriers, then they were wrong.
And, competing online travel agencies -- such as Priceline and Travelocity, although they weren't specifically named -- didn't necessarily make up the difference.
Those conclusions were contained in a UBS Investment Research note on Online Travel Agencies, authored by analyst Kevin Crissey.
"We believe Expedia and Orbitz have seen their air transactions fall importantly since American left Orbitz (Dec. 21) and was removed from Expedia (Jan.2)," the note says. "Our channel checks and data suggest many customers have chosen to book on AA.com rather than on competing carriers or through other online agencies."
UBS Investment Research estimates that airline transactions through OTAs fell 10% to 15% starting around Christmas.
"That falloff is consistent with our estimate for American's share of the US market formerly listed on Orbitz Worldwide/Expedia," the note says.
UBS Investment research says that slim margins on air bookings likely blunt the financial impact on Orbitz and Expedia.
However, hotel reservations, which have larger margins, may also be impacted, UBS says.
Of course, American Airline also is probably feeling a pinch, the note says.
American has stated that its advanced book load factor is flat, and this may have been accomplished through low fares, UBS Investment Research says.
However, the firm believes that the airline has been able to recapture about 80% to 90% of lost revenue.
American has embarked on an advertising campaign, including online and radio ads, touting AA.com in light of the absence of its flights on Expedia and Orbitz.
There may be more information about the impact on the OTAs when Orbitz Worldwide, Expedia Inc. and Priceline report their fourth quarter financial results in February. Travelocity is privately held and doesn't publicly report earnings.