One of Europe's oldest low cost carriers has added to a growing distribution debate by claiming its fellow airlines have "no option" but to overhaul their traditional ticketing model.
Transavia, which has been in business almost 50 years and is now owned by Air France-KLM, says distribution in the LCC sector is in the throes of "fundamental change" as airlines previously hell-bent on sticking with a direct ticketing platform to customers on their websites realise there is now value to working through intermediaries.
Speaking after a session at a Travelport customer event in Monaco this week, Transavia's chief commercial officer Roy Scheerder says the airline decided around two years ago that it needed to raise its profile with consumers via intermediaries, primarily to boost inbound traffic to its bases in the Netherlands and France.
"If you want to expand, direct sales has its limits - so you have to ask: what do you have to do? We realised we had to work with GDSs."
Transavia eventually signed with Travelport for distribution and was also one of the GDS's early partners for its merchandising platform, launched in April 2013.
Interestingly, whilst some low cost carriers have been previously rather hostile to the idea of third party distribution via GDSs, Scheerder says that its own decision to work on third party distribution has also come about because of the economics are now favourable.
"Nobody ever disputed the capability of the platform or technology," he says, adding that the financials were just not appealing because of the agent fees.
A "renaissance" in the airline distribution model, also within the GDS part of the equation, has seen everyone benefit, Scheerder says.
The debate appears to be gaining momentum, triggered primarily by European LCC giant Ryanair recently reversing years of its direct-only strategy by opening talks with all three of the major GDSs.
"It is clear that low cost carriers, with their strong projected growth, will have no other option but to embrace GDSs for distributing their content."
NB: Disclosure – Flights and accommodation for the author’s attendance at the event was supported by Travelport.