AA's New Tech Partner In Brazil Once Issued An EMD, Too

Brazil-based travel tech provider Wooba has agreed to use American Airlines' "direct connect link" to access "products, services and personalization capabilities," according to an AA statement. Wooba, which serves consolidators, tour operators and travel agencies, in May issued the first electronic miscellaneous document in Latin America, according to the carrier.

Issuing the first EMD is no guarantee of a groundswell. While IATA has reported some progress with EMDs around the world, American and Farelogix and, separately, Air New Zealand and Sabre last August each announced the processing of their first EMDs in the United States. Since then, the total number of EMDs issued through ARC has doubled to four, according to ARC president and CEO Mike Premo.

AA and Farelogix declined to comment on the lack of EMD adoption in the United States. A Sabre official suggested that while the process was successfully executed, the ancillary option Air New Zealand is offering__a prepaid bag check__is not a popular one. An Air New Zealand media official did not respond to a request for comment.

"They were meant to be showcase moments," Premo said last week of the August 2011 announcements. "They were legitimate EMDs that were sold, processed and paid for. But when you think about how many customers are going to require a supplemental bag fee on Air New Zealand, it's probably a relatively small number. IATA tells us the take-up [of EMDs] is increasing far more rapidly in Europe. And it's taking off for internal airline use, which is really how airlines implemented e-tickets."

The AA direct program's "new functionality," including EMDs, "allows simple access to travel innovations that enhance opportunities for travel providers and travelers," according to an AA statement quoting Wooba director Jackson Fernando. AA also announced that Brazil-based travel technology company ArgoIT would use its direct connect.

When AA announced the direct-connect program nearly three years ago, it unveiled a list of technology partners that were poised to facilitate the program's connections with travel management companies and others. Execs with most of those tech firms subsequently said they stood ready to develop and/or provide direct-connect services whenever a customer requested them. AA has since said progress in the corporate market has been slow.

As AA describes them, "EMDs facilitate paperless fulfillment of airlines' optional services, such as American's Preferred Seats, using more consumer-friendly and efficient technology than commonly used today."