Travelport and American Airlines are battling for travel agents' hearts, minds and pocketbooks.
Travelport sent a "myth-busting" email to its travel agency customers detailing why the GDS believes it doesn't make economic or business sense for agencies to switch to AA Direct Connect for flights and ancillary services.
Travelport states that American is aggressively offering agencies financial incentives -- and perhaps increased incentives -- to book through the airline's direct connect instead of through Travelport GDS.
But, Travelport says it wouldn't make economic sense because "a successful direct connection will result in the 100% long-term loss of an agency's financial assistance through the GDS for all of its AA bookings."
But this would be inefficient -- and even more so if other carriers offer direct connects -- because an agency would have to change its computer systems, would generate multiple travel records and would require "duplicate steps in day-to-day processes" because "availability, pricing, shopping, PNR creation and ticketing" would be moved out of the GDS and into American's internal systems.
Travelport also alleges that all of these changes would make it much harder for agencies to service their clients because price comparisons from multiple systems would be difficult.
Travelport says it is willing and able to work with American on the kind of merchandising that the airline is pursuing, but charges that "AA apparently intends to limit all GDS agencies' access to full content such as low fares and ancillary services based solely on AA's own criteria."
As proof of its commitment to handle the customization that American seeks, Travelport points to its investments in its Travelport Universal Desktop and Travelport Universal API.
What Travelport doesn't state in the email is that American would like to have Travelport and other GDSs hook up to AA Direct Connect, as well, although the terms for doing so have not been made public.
"The most efficient course to enhance your business, provide broad distribution, and ensure consumer choice and transparency is for us to continue to work closely together and with economics that are beneficial for all participants in the distribution network," Travelport states.
Asked to comment on the Travelport email, Cory Garner, American’s director of merchandising strategy, says: "We appreciate the publicity and look forward to introducing more Travelport subscribers to our direct connect and how it can benefit them."