The BlueSky-Thomas Cook saga is potentially entering its final days as administrators juggle with five bids for the Intellectual Property Rights of the beleaguered company's iTour software system.
Tnooz understands that although the bidding process is officially still open, administrator MCR is already evaluating the five bids on the table and is expected to make a decision "far quicker than normal", a source says.
The five companies are believed to be technology shops Comtec, Traveltek, Partners Software and another unnamed tech firm, alongside Thomas Cook, as revealed earlier this week.
The significance of this story cannot be underestimated.
Thomas Cook, one of the biggest tour operators in the world, could lose control of the IPR for the software running a number of its reservation systems, and also the IPR for software currently being developed for the remainder of its systems.
This is arguably why Thomas Cook entered the playing field earlier this week and why it also assembled a business SWAT team of former-BlueSkyers to work on the systems until the administration period has concluded - a process it hopes, most would suspect, which ends in its favour.
After three weeks of jockeying for position it seems odds-on to many observers and those close to the situation that Thomas Cook will probably win the bidding process and the work will continue on as before.
However, there is plenty of confusion and anger regarding the circumstances in which a Sunday Times Techtrack-listed company like BlueSky found itself within a year going into administration.
All involved in the saga are understandably remaining tight-lipped.
However, answers to the following points might shed some more light on the saga - but also provide lessons for other tech companies and travel firms involved in similar agreements, large or small.
- Why did BlueSky Technologies take on such an enormous project when it only had around 20 employees at the time of signing the contract in 2006?
- What was the role of the large third party IT company in the GLOBE project, known as the "prime contract holder" [name withheld for legal reasons], and should it have done more to ensure the project ran smoothly?
- What is the motivation for other companies to buy the IPR of BlueSky?
- Why was BlueSky allowed to fall into administration if the bidders have since decided they want to buy the IPR for the software?
- Could more have been done before to safeguard the jobs, salaries and/or redundancy packages of BlueSky staff?
- When was the SWAT team now contracted to Thomas Cook to safeguard the continued running of the software during the administration process assembled?
- How much has been spent on the GLOBE project so far? [Tnooz has obtained an eye-watering ballpark figure but cannot confirm]
- Is Thomas Cook willing/able to can the overall project if it fails to win the IPR?
- What happens to the reservation system upgrade if Thomas Cook axes GLOBE? [Only one part of four has so far been fully completed - UK mainstream not even started]
- Will this saga trigger the end of projects of this scale in travel?