Some fiery comments recently from the new CEO of Aer Lingus, in a bid to mirror the old stance favoured by rival carrier Ryanair.
Speaking at the CAPA Conference in Dublin, Ireland, Stephen Kavanagh claimed the airline had reduced its unit costs by some 52%, in large part removing some of its content from the GDSs.
Kavanagh, who officially had only been in the job for three weeks after a promotion from chief strategy and planning officer at the beginning of March this year, said the restructuring of its distribution programme had seen it make some fares available only via its website, allowing it to reduce the overall amount of fees that are paid to the GDSs.
Nothing particularly unusual in this, except Kavanagh questioned used the platform to almost out-do his counterpart at Ryanair, Michael O'Leary.
"GDSs add value if all things are being equal - and we see that because they do. But just don't expect us to pay for it!"
In other words, Aer Lingus wants the model it uses by which a party pays for such services to be altered so that the end user (customer) pays for the fees.
Kavanagh later confirmed his position, arguing that the fee should be paid by the travel agency, which in turn could pass it on to the traveller.
"It's about having a service where there is equality in the value [gained]."
Such comments hark back to a period a few years ago, heavily championed by the likes of American Airlines (and using the rhetoric of his fellow countryman, O'Leary), prior to the so-called (r)evolution currently being played out at the GDSs to ensure they remain a key part of the distribution chain.
The introduction of new merchandising technology to help sell airline ancillary products is considered one way that the GDSs are trying to bridge the gap between the demands of consumers to cherry pick how they want to experience a product alongside the desire to "unbundle" fares by carriers.
Perhaps Kavanagh was just having a touch of the "make an impact in the new job" syndrome, not least because most carriers have been establishing for some time a strategy to effectively combine their direct and intermediary business in a way that works well for all parties.
In the same session in Dublin, for example, Air China's vice president and general manager for North America, Zhihang Chi, said the airline wants to lower its distribution costs, but due to online travel agencies becoming aggressive in the domestic marketplace rather than not seeing the value of the GDS.
Air Arabia group CEO, Adel Ali, said the distribution strategy it has (using both direct and GDS) is "a huge cost but it also has fantastic benefits".
Discussing the debate after the session, Travelport's global head of product and marketing, Ian Heywood, said:
"We know that the GDS needs to reposition itself to show value for money to the airlines. But [Michael] O'Leary demonstrated he understands this by coming back to the GDS last year."
Travelport is showing that it can answer the call for more "flexibility" from airlines, Heywood said.
He went on to argue that the reality of the current ecosystem is that airlines need third party distribution for two important reasons: ancillary products are here to stay and direct sales are just part of an overall strategy.
Ryanair, before the recent re-evaluation of its distribution model, may have been one of just a handful of airlines around the world with a high percentage of direct sales.
In fact, on average across the aviation industry, just over a third (35%) of global airline tickets are sold direct - rising to approximately 50% within a carrier's domestic market.
NB: Aer Lingus image via Shutterstock.
NB2: Disclosure - author's travel and accommodation costs were supported by CAPA event sponsor Travelport.