Delta Air Lines signed a partnership with Farelogix to introduce a direct-connect strategy for travel agencies and corporations.
Under the agreement, signed April 12, online travel agencies and travel management companies would be able to hook up to the Delta-Farelogix platform to access the airline's full-content, including schedules, fares and optional services.
And, Delta plans on using the direct-connect for merchandising purposes such as offering upgrades to individual travelers.
Although American Airlines similarly intends to merchandise through its own direct-connect, using Farelogix as a subcontractor, Delta is hinting that it is taking a softer approach, offering its direct-connect supposedly as an option to third parties which see value in it.
Delta intends to continue making its fares and optional services available to third parties through the GDSs, but direct-connect partners would get more robust content.
Delta issued no official press release about the Farelogix partnership, but communicated the news via email to journalists.
Plans for the direct-connect are said to be in their initial stages with implementation slated for the fourth quarter of 2011.
The economics of Delta's direct-connect platform weren't available, but obviously the airline sees it as becoming a low-cost channel which cuts out the global distribution system middlemen.
The airline's salespeople have not yet gone out to customers with Delta's direct-connect proposition.
In addition to offering direct-connects to third parties, Delta plans on implementing the Farelogix platform on a private label basis on its WorldAgent Direct site for travel agents. Agents using the site would be able to settle their transactions through ARC.
Positioning the direct-connect as an alternative to GDS distribution, Delta stated in an email: "... Farelogix and Delta will implement a platform to allow customers additional access to Delta content. It will provide another source for the travel agency community to access Delta's fares and other products and services, in addition to the legacy Global Distrbution Systems with whom Delta currently participates."
Delta characterizes the partnership with Farelogix as "the latest step in the evolution of Delta's distribution strategy."
The airline still seeks to push consumers directly to Delta.com and is gearing the Farelogix platform toward online travel agencies and other third parties.
Delta believes travel agencies will see benefits in direct-connect because they will be able to access optional services and merchandising offers in a manner that the GDSs don't.
American Airlines has been battling the GDSs and some online travel agencies, including Orbitz, as it pushes them to establish direct-connects with the airline.
Delta says its direct-connect is not mandatory for third parties, but advantageous.
Meanwhile, American Airlines declined to comment directly about the Delta program, but assuredly having another major carrier launch a direct-connect initiative must be a welcome development.
"While we can’t comment on Delta’s efforts, we believe that direct connect technologies will allow American to distribute a broader range of products through travel agencies, and in the process become more competitive and thus provide a better service to our travelers,” said Ryan Mikolasik, a spokesman for American Airlines.
Sabre, too, chimed in when asked to comment.
“It’s not for us to characterize Delta’s plans, that’s a question better suited for the airline," says Sabre spokeswoman Nancy St. Pierre. "We believe Delta remains committed to the Sabre GDS and recognizes the value it brings them. Sabre will continue to innovate and invest in the most efficient, effective way to shop for travel. The marketplace will decide which products serve them best.”